History of Syrah
Mysterious tales suggest that Roman armies brought Syrah north from Egypt, or that the vine originated in Persia near the city of Shiraz. DNA testing has dispelled these romantic notions, proving Syrah originated in France's Rhône Valley. This noble grape is a cross between the red Dureza varietal and the white Mondeuse. Syrah is also known as Shiraz in Australia and South Africa, however should not be confused with Petite Sirah, which is a different grape variety altogether.
Uniqueness of Syrah
One of Syrah's unique characteristics is that it can thrive in many different growing environments. Cool climate areas, like the Sonoma Coast or Mendocino, produce wines that exhibit dark and savory profiles. Warmer climates produce more fruit-forward Syrah. A California Syrah from Lodi can be quite different from its cool cousin grown in the Russian River Valley. From the Central Coast to Sonoma, Napa to the Sierra Foothills, Syrah has found a home in every grape-producing region in California.
California Syrah Flavor and Aroma Characteristics
Syrah is packed with flavor, color, and a tannin structure built to last. California Syrah grown in cooler climates tend to to have descriptors such as blackberry, smoked meat, bacon, leather, green olive, and black pepper. Warmer regions have more pronounced fruit like raspberry and cherry, and exhibit earthy and spicy notes. California Syrah is known for its versatility with food, its complex flavors, balanced acid, and hearty tannin structure make it an ideal pairing with anything on the BBQ.
JC Cellars California Syrah Vineyards
Caldwell Vineyard - Napa Valley
Caldwell Vineyard sits 500 feet above sea level, giving panoramic views of Napa Valley, the Mayacamas, and Vacas. Grapes were first planted at the Caldwell site in 1982 with cuttings brought into the country using "creative" means. The weather at Caldwell Vineyards has a lot of similarities to its neighboring AVA, Carneros. This vineyard yields wines with a roasted red pepper and sun-baked earth quality, while also carrying flavor profiles of blackberry pie. More photos of Caldwell Vineyard.
Fess Parker's Vineyard - Santa Barbara
The Fess Parker's Vineyard is chosen from four parcels, or “blocks.” The combination of warm daytime temperatures and cool evenings resulting from the unique east-west orientation of the Santa Ynez Valley create ideal conditions for grape maturation. These crowd-pleasing wines contain ample fruit, a lush palate, sweet tannin, a hint of green peppercorns, and exotic spice. More photos of Fess Parker's Vineyard.
Musci Vineyard - Alexander Valley
This hillside vineyard of one acre is situated in the heart of Alexander Valley, an appellation a bit warmer than some of its Sonoma County neighbors. Gentle coastal breezes manage to find their way through crevasses, and alluvial soil rich in minerals from ancient river deposits are the perfect equation to derive fruit-forward wines with underlying complexity. This is a rich and deeply concentrated wine with ripe, exotic dark berry fruit, hints of tarragon, cinnamon, and mineral flavors that are supple on the palate.
Rockpile Vineyard - Rockpile
At 2,000 feet, Rockpile Vineyard sits at the highest elevation in the Sonoma region. This puts it above the fog line, giving the vines more sun exposure and therefore better ripening. Red and black fruits and a mineral backbone are the hallmarks of this wine and appellation. Rockpile Vineyard produces wine with great depth and concentration, exhibiting extracted fruit character, spice box, wet stone, and smoky notes followed by JC Cellars' signature supple mouthfeel. More photos of Rockpile Vineyard.
Stagecoach Vineyard - Atlas Peak
Stagecoach Vineyard is an impressive mountain planting, stretching from the westernmost regions of Atlas Peak all the way to the east, overlooking Oakville. Syrah is planted on the south and west-facing slopes of the rocky, volcanic terrain. The combination of cool nights and warm days allows for superb complexity and optimal hang time to create wine with true varietal expression. Unique flavor characteristics include graphite minerality and roasted earth components intertwined with floral elements and blackberry preserves. More photos of Stagecoach Vineyard. More photos of Stagecoach Vineyard.
Ventana Vineyard - Arroyo Seco
JC Cellars' Ventana Syrah is a true expression of terroir. We make this wine year after year, not because it scores points from wine critics, but because we really love the classic cool climate Syrah characteristics that come from Ventana Vineyards. Feral and complex, the terroir highlights roasted Herbes de Provence, cracked peppercorns, hints of wild game, and forest floor. More photos of Ventana Vineyard.