As the New Year begins, we felt it was a good time to send out our first newsletter and provide an update on our upcoming releases to our mailing list members.
Some people have asked what the difference is between our Rhys and Alesia bottlings. For those familiar with the French concept of Domaine and Negociant wines, the quickest answer is that Rhys wines are Domaine (owned vineyards) and Alesia wines are Negociant (purchased grapes).
Rhys wines are produced exclusively from our estate managed vineyards located in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A great deal of planning and care has gone into each Rhys vineyard. Truly interesting wines only come from interesting soils. With this in mind, our sites have been selected for their perfect cool climates, steep rocky slopes and interesting geological character and diversity.
This special combination of mineral-infused, rocky soils and cool climate allows wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains to be some of the most interesting and age worthy in the new world. We manage these vineyards with organic and biodynamic methods. This dedication to our vineyards results in some of highest viticulture costs in California, but we feel the results justify the effort.
Our Alesia wines are produced from grapes purchased from vineyards that are located in the Sonoma Coast and Santa Lucia Highlands appellations. These vineyard selections offer an exploration of some of California’s newest and most exciting winegrowing regions. Starting southwest of Petaluma in the Chileno Valley, our Sonoma Coast sources are scattered to the northwest in an area called the Petaluma Gap. This cool, fog-rich region produces wine with beautiful, high-toned aromatics and seductive fruit. We also have been intrigued by the utterly unique expression of Syrah from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Our vineyard source, Fairview Ranch, is located near Gonzales and is close to the well-known Gary’s Vineyard. While we do not own these vineyards, we seek out owners that share our viticultural ideals. At Rhys, we firmly believe that real quality is created in the vineyard rather than through manipulative winemaking techniques. Like Rhys, Alesia wine is ‘made’ as the grapes grow throughout the season.
Please be patient with us during the next few years while our Rhys production is quite small. Currently, there are five Rhys vineyards totaling about 40 acres, but only three (Alpine, Family Farm, and Home) are in limited production in the 2004 and 2005 vintages. Unfortunately, our current mailing list is larger than we can accommodate with these bottlings. Happily, this situation will improve in the next few years. Alpine and Family Farm should reach full production in 2006. Meanwhile, Horseshoe Ranch and Skyline are on track to deliver their first grapes in the 2007 vintage. The good news is that we will have plenty of Alesia wines to offer our mailing list members in the interim.
While our production is starting out small, we have big plans for the future. Construction of a cave and state of the art winery has begun at our Skyline Vineyard and should be completed in 2007 or 2008. This winery will allow us to produce up to 10,000 cases in numerous one ton lots and age our wines in the temperature-controlled humidified cave. This small lot production allows us to separately evaluate and fine tune each of our one-half acre vineyard blocks. Some people may think we are nuts to have so many small lots, but we think this is critical in our quest to capture each vineyard’s unique character.
Thanks again for your interest in Rhys Vineyards!