Today's Artists Learn from Past Masters

Northern California ~ the New French Wine Country

Discussions with Bill Williamson

Every winemaker is to some degree influenced by the international grape varieties and historic wines that have become globally acceptable, That influence largely centers around the French varieties, known for their region or appellation of origin, namely Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone. All have their place on the table with different foods and different courses within the meal.

Bordeaux Style Wines

Bordeaux is world renowned for its bold, age-worthy wines that are almost exclusively blends.

The Garonne River flows through the center of Bordeaux splitting the chateaux wineries as “Left Bank” and “Right Bank”, referring to the side of the river on which the particular chateau is located. Grape varietals of the right bank include Merlot with portions of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and some Petit Verdot while Cabernet Sauvignon is most dominant on the left bank.

Because these locations have different climate and soil characteristics, similar grape varieties can create different flavor profiles. Blending these grape varieties has been used in Bordeaux for hundreds of years to maximize the expression of a wine. It can enhance aromas, color, texture, body and finish, making a more well-rounded, complex and interesting wine.

Seeing Northern California for the first time from our Australian viewpoint we realized that similar subtle differences existed here with Napa Valley being more left bank dominant (Cabernet Sauvignon) and Sonoma being more right bank dominant so we developed vineyards in both appellations to grow the same grape varieties as our French cousins in the perfect locations to produce our California Bordeaux-style wines.

Our blends are designed in the vineyard where each of the five red varieties is grown and made into wine individually. Each component of our Bordeaux wines is selected to fulfill an ideal, rather than created from a random assemblage of grapes. The goal is to highlight each grape's strength while allowing each to complement the blend.

By producing a wine based on an ideal, on an definitive wine making philosophy, the wine can be allowed to show consistency, to show its balanced flavor set, to manage a particular food group and to endure as a wine-lover's chosen favorite.

Burgundy Style Wines

Burgundy produces complex wines with delicious flavors and a definite sensuality. Categorized into three levels of quality Grand Cru, Premiers Crus, and Village, a Burgundy red is always Pinot Noir while a Burgundy white is always Chardonnay.

Burgundian wines are impressive because of the subtle and complex flavors produced from a single grape variety. We have developed beautiful Burgundy style Chardonnay from a cooler location in our Dry Creek Valley vineyards and exceptional Pinot Noir from our vineyards in Russian River Valley both of which locations parallel the Burgundian terroir.

Rhône Style Wines

Rhône Valley is known for its variety of earthy red wines. Rhône red wine is produced mainly from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre while wines in which all three are blended are known as Châteauneuf-du-Pape or GSM blends.

Considered to be medium-bodied, with bright, vibrant flavors of spice Rhône wines also tend to have earthy flavors of dark fruit, herbs and coffee.

Here in Northern California we have found specific vineyards that mirror the terroir of the Rhône and produce a wide, diverse array of exciting early drinking wines meant to be enjoyed upon release.

Sparkling, Rosé & Esoteric Wines

All around the world, wine makers have their own secret formula and variations for making distinctive still and sparkling wine varieties not considered mainstream. Making small quantities of quality wines is time consuming and expensive. Our esoteric collection of wines are made without cost considerations. They are made to display their unique varietal characteristics while delivering pleasure to the taster. As such, they are prized by people with a knowledge and appreciation of our craft.

Reserve Wines

There are wines that have stood the test of time against the fickleness of popular trend and have emerged recognizable across generations as the greatest of their kind. In researching the composition of some of the world's greatest wines we were inspired to make our own collection of wines in the traditional style from the very best of our Napa and Sonoma vineyards.