Rhone varietals thrive on the site of bonded winery #118, one of the earliest in Napa Valley.
In its own valley, there is a vineyard east of Calistoga with a whole lot of history going back to pre-prohibition. Rumors of moonshining during prohibition are in the record books, and the surviving old vines of Petite Sirah are infamous. Palisades Vineyard (formerly Carver Sutro) lies in its very own valley, completely isolated from the rest of Napa Valley. The grapes obviously like it there or they wouldn’t have survived as long as they have. The new owners are fanatical (in all the right ways) about the farming of this historic site.
“I may be crazy for farming this way, but I did not want to just do what everyone else is doing. This unique property doesn’t speak to that.”
—Proprietor, Felicia Woytak
The 2017 petite Sirah immediately shows loads of creosote, dark dark black cherries and black raspberry reduction. The palate shows the slightly lifted acidity and structure typical of the 2017 vintage and an amazingly long finish. If this is opened in the next year or so it shows best after 30 min or so of air though you can’t really give it too much air.
In contrast to the finesse of our Grenache from Palisades Vineyard, this Petite Sirah is all power. Petite Sirah is known for color but this is dark and inky enough that if other petites could blush from being envious, they would. Do NOT drink while wearing white clothes! Enormously concentrated, sumptuous and structured, with an array of brooding dark fruits, freshly turned black earth, licorice, black pepper and rose hip. As massive as this wine is, its tannins are remarkable refined. This wine will outlive all of us.
It will be one of those vintages that will be discussed for decades to come. The wines we made are beautiful, our highest-scoring Chardonnays to-date as well as Cabernets and Proprietary Reds that are reflective of great vintages, with early barrel scores into potential 100-point range. Our reds have excellent extract; layered, downright sexy wines that have the structure to live a long time. I taste the wines and marvel. It was a very wet spring, over 30 inches of rain in January and February alone. Spring bloom and set went smoothly and we rolled into the summer with heat spikes in July, late August, and early September. By early October all the Chardonnays were in and the Cabernets were reaching optimum maturity. We dropped a lot of fruit in 2017, a cluster per shoot in To Kalon, and in part because of this, we had all our fruit in by mid-October. Then came the fire, which had no influence on our wines, but changed all our lives. The wines themselves are rays of sunlight when I reflect on 2017.