Rhone varietals thrive on the site of bonded winery #118, one of the earliest in Napa Valley.

2016 Sirah Palisades Vineyard Old Vine Label

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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 2016 Petite Sirah was fully destemmed then fermented in a single open top tank. The fermentation was fairly quick at only about 11 days and was done using only pump-overs. Just before going dry, this was pressed to French oak barrels, both 60 and 120 gallon. We only like used oak for the Petite, there is enough fruit tannin there without adding on barrel tannin, and we want to allow the beautiful old vine fruit to fully express itself by itself. Matured for 20 months in these barrels, before bottling without fining or filtration.

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.

To put it simply – this was one of our great modern vintages in the Napa Valley. It almost had a Bordeaux feeling to it – moderate rainfall for all but three months before the real rains arrived in October. By then, everything was in the barn. No significant heat spikes, which made for a very long even growing season. The only complaint I had with all our vineyard sites was, I wish I had harvested more grapes. Cluster size and weights were down, and we were 20% off of average when we finished picking. It was one of those years you wish you just had more grapes. Spectacular quality, both reds and whites. The wines have deep colors, structure, concentration, and depth of flavor.