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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Some regions in the world are known for single varietal wines, such as pinot noir and chardonnay in Burgundy, nebbiolo in Barolo and tempranillo in Ribera del Duero. In other regions, such as in Bordeaux, Riojo and the Southern Rhone, they are known for their blends.
I am not here to say that one is better than the other. A single varietal wine can truly express the terroir it comes from. On the other hand, a well-crafted blend will balance the different characteristics of each grape to enhance aromas, color, texture, body or finish of a wine.
The Rhône Valley in France is one of the regions known for its blends. In the Southern Rhône, grenache is the dominant variety but traditionally it is blended with syrah, cinsault and mouvedre. Blending is one of the required rules in Côtes du Rhône and other appellations in Southern Rhone.
Therefore, I was all the more surprised when tasting wines at Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône, the Rhône Valley wine fair earlier this year, where I found more and more producers offering 100 percent grenache wines.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
I am talking about Law Estate Wines from Paso Robles, not about legal laws, despite what the title might suggest.
The winery is owned by Don and Susie Law. Both geologists who live in Denver, they first fell in love with wine on a trip to Spain in 1976. From there, a passion for Rhone-inspired blends developed. They spent two years looking for the perfect site to plant a vineyard when they were directed to Paso Robles.
The Laws found a piece of property on the west side of Paso Robles above Peachy Canyon Road in the Adelaida AVA. After analyzing 42 soil pits, they discovered limestone and low vigor soils, coupled with elevations of 1,600 and 1,900 feet and a consistent cool breeze. They purchased this ideal piece of land in 2007.
Between Mike Skinner's obsession with his family's history and a series of coincidental events, Mike and Carey Skinner are the owners of Skinner Vineyards in El Dorado in the Sierra Foothills. Carey joined us in Los Angeles to share the story of her winery. Carey Skinner Mike had a dream about a vineyard but it was just a dream. Then, one day their son Kevin and his wife were driving from Lake Tahoe using an old map and found "Skinner" on the map near the Sierra Foothills town of Placerville. Upon further discovery, Mike found that he is the great-great-great-grandson of James Skinner, a Scottish miner who in 1861 established one of the Sierra Foothills’ first wineries. After discovering gold in Coloma in 1861, James had the largest winery in the country, producing 15 thousand gallons of wine and whiskey per year.