Peake Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
This wine completes for me a viticultural trifecta, making the spectacular Peake Vineyard the first and only vineyard (other than my own) from which I have produced single vineyard wines from three different varieties; in this case Chardonnay (Dream Field), Pinot Noir (Opposites Attract) and now Grenache (Born Ready). It is especially significant in this case that this has been done with Grenache, because, going forward, the first requirement for me to bottle any single vineyard Grenache is that it must have enough concentration, earth and power to stand up to the Opportunity Knocks Grenache that I produce from the Spanish Springs Vineyard up in San Luis Obispo County. I am very proud to announce that this wine does indeed have that power.
Part of the equation at Peake is its prime location, on the eastern end of Santa Rosa Road in the warmer end of the Sta. Rita Hills. The other parts of the equation are Peake’s very open minded owner, John Wagner, and the guy that John hired to farm the vineyard, Michael Anderson. While John is open minded, he does have a few extreme prejudices; quality, quality and quality. John does not just talk the talk; he lives it, which is why he hired the best farmer on the planet. There are three letters that officially follow Michael Anderson’s name. Those would be PhD, as in Doctor of Philosophy; in this case, viticulture. Whenever I go over to Peake to look at the vines, I don’t have to ask for certain things to be done, or for the timing on anything to change. By the time I get there, everything is always perfectly executed. Everything makes sense. When I meet with Mike Anderson, it’s always a perfect exchange, a good half of which has me doing the listening and the learning, which I deeply appreciate because it just makes me a better wine- maker. In a nutshell, I love working with these guys.
This wine was not “Born Ready” in the sense of so many Grenaches that are light weight and ready for immediate consumption. So often, Grenache makes the kind of red wine that is good chilled down and enjoyed in a similar way that you enjoy white wine. That’s not the kind of Grenache we are dealing with here. This wine was born in the sense that it is ready to evolve into something that far exceeds the status quo, something powerful and earthy, with a tremen- dous core of fruit and spice. Currently it’s a little brooding, but if you pour it into a big wine glass and let it get some air, the entertainment will begin. I was going to try and describe it all but it’s just too complicated. Just about any spice that you smell in red wine; it’s in there. Name a fruit that you smell in red wine; it’s in there. Very bold, very complex, and if you give it a few years to rest, the middle will start to sweeten and the wine will really start to spread its wings.