Frequently Asked Questions

Syrah is a red grape from the Rhône region in France. Its origin has been proven by DNA typing. It is a cross between a red grape, Dureza, and a white grape, Mondeuse Blanche.

Cool Climate Syrah might best be defined as one grown in a region less likely to see high temperatures during the day, and with cooler temperatures at night. Think of areas that enjoy marine influence as opposed to warmer up-valley regions.  Although Syrah may be grown in most climates, the flavors we look for are found in cooler climates.

There are vast differences. The biggest expressions are perhaps found in The Barossa Valley of Australia. These bold wines are very dark and concentrated to the point of being jammy. Think dark fruits with leather and smoke, and expect big yet soft tannins.

Cool Climate Syrah, on the other hand, tends to be leaner, more delicate, and elegant. Dark colored yes, but perhaps not opaque. Expect it to be fresh and showing red and blue fruit. There will be subtle spice and a more natural acidic finish. We like to think of it as Pinot’s big brother.

Jean and I first learned of Cool Climate Syrah from a winemaker acquaintance, Ehren Jordan. He was kind enough to guide us in our quest to plant Syrah in the Sonoma Carneros. We learned Syrah from cooler regions exhibit flavors like those from the wind-whipped Northern Rhône. We jumped in with both feet and ordered clones from France.


Our timing wasn’t the best, as we planted Las Madres over 20 years ago. Back then the larger expressions of this varietal were more in vogue. Fortunately, today people are finding Syrah grown in cooler climates are noteworthy.

First, and perhaps the most difficult, is to start with great fruit. In my early years of winemaking, this was the greatest challenge. Next, understand that good winemaking is contingent upon cleanliness…to the point of sheer monotony. Lastly, respect the science but know that great winemakers push the boundaries. You might need help. Click on Private Clients tab.

Let’s be honest. If you’re not in the mood for wine, no wine will stand out. I once asked an owner of Acacia Winery what wine stood out for him the most? He replied it was the Estate Chardonnay that he and his lady were enjoying the evening he asked for her hand.

Your tastes will change over time but trust your own experience with that glass. Never worry about the “descriptors” people love to lavish upon it. We’re confident you know what you like and that becomes the ‘great glass of wine”.
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