Specific sites within
& SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS
& SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS
It’s a well-known fact that before I felt my calling to study Viticulture and Enology in France, I studied Chemical Engineering. What is less known is that I’ve always had a little bit of a bohemian spirit in me who wanted to become a philosopher. Now that I look at all the wines made from dedicated vineyards, specific locations and clones, I can see my journey reflected in my choices of these places. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the mythic structure of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, inspired me to the names of this series of wines.
The different steps in my journey in life and as a winemaker are reflected in the wines you will taste. And just as I chose those specific winegrowing sites, I hope you will relate to them through your own journey.
Choosing a site to make wine that would showcase its inner essence takes time, motivation and a clear understanding of what you want to obtain from it. Back in 2011, I started Cattleya Wines with 1 single barrel of Syrah from the Soberanes Vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands. A privilege I treasure everyday since the talented Vineyard Manager Mark Pisoni (aka my Brother-in-law) tends to this vines with exceptional skills. I adventure from into sites across Sonoma and Napa Valley. Enjoy The Symbolic Series of wines knowing that I put my full heart and soul on each and all of them, to showcase a site, bringing my soul into tangible notions. From our winery to your wine glass, enjoy, cellar and share them while discovering California at its best.
Beyond the Threshold
The 2019 vintage marks the first iteration of Beyond the Threshold. The wine is born from vines on a South-facing slope of the Sonoma Coast sub region of Sonoma County and is comprised of barrel selection of one distinct clone of Chardonnay (Clone 95) from one vineyard site.
This exclusive small lot was harvested at night on September 20th and carefully transferred to the winery as the sun began to rise. The fruit was hand sorted and only the most pristine clusters reserved before being gently pressed in a small bladder press. The free-run juice was meticulously separated by taste, then settled overnight in stainless steel tanks before being transferred to barrels for native and malolactic fermentation in 33% new French oak. This wine was aged in 33% new French oak over a period of 15 months, then bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Call to Adventure
The Russian River Valley is a place of almost impossible beauty, where distinct terroirs reign supreme. It was one of the first places I saw the incredible potential to apply my winemaking skills in California, where I heard my own call to adventure. Crafted from clone 15 Chardonnay grown in Pratt Vineyard, this wine is made from hand-harvest grapes and undergoes full malolactic fermentation before spending over 16 months in French oak barrels.
This tantalizing Russian River Chardonnay beckons you away from the comfortable cuvées you’ve known before. Call to Adventure is an invitation to seek the unknown where the promise of delight is just a sip away if you are brave enough to take the first step. This Russian River Chardonnay is redolent of that hazy line when spring becomes summer: perfumed honeysuckle, ripe mandarin, Meyer lemon, and honeydew melon. With a long finish and round, generous texture, no one can resist the Call to Adventure.
Belly of the Whale
Pinot Noir is a notoriously fickle variety and one must be ready to accept the challenges that come with farming this grape. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Belly of the Whale is crafted from Sun Chase Vineyard fruit, located in the southern reaches of the Sonoma Coast appellation, the cool, high elevation slopes that act as a gateway to the rest of Sonoma County’s wine country. For this wine, I use 777 clone Pinot, which is cold-soaked for ten days before being fermented on the skins for 23 days. Once complete, I age Belly of the Whale for 15 months in one-third new French oak barrels.
Here we cross the threshold where we pass from the world we know into a realm rife with danger. The world grows dark. Inky black raspberry, damp earth, and dried and decaying flowers depict the profile of these grapes born of older Pinot Noir vines. Unfined and unfiltered, this is a wine capable of slumbering in your cellar for 10-15 years. The Belly of the Whale is the Sonoma Coast as you’ve never seen it before. There’s no going back.
The Initiation marks the true beginning of a quest. For my own journey, the Côte-Rôtie, home to some of the world’s most exquisite Syrahs, was where I worked my first harvests and made my first wines. My own initiation. My goal was to create a Syrah of great beauty and finesse. Sourced from the Soberanes Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands, the Syrah for this cuvée is first cold-soaked then undergoes a long, slow fermentation, Initiation is aged in over 70 percent new French oak.
As we emerge from the perils found in the Belly of the Whale, we emerge upon the Road of Trials, the first step in the Initiation. The profile of this wine hearkens back to classic Côte-Rôtie, dark berries, white pepper, cedar, and cured meats. It’s bold and powerful, yet pure, like the hero making ready to be initiated into the next phase of his journey.
At the end of your quest, the Reward awaits. This is a new wine, created from cuttings I carried over from France. After nearly a decade of nurturing these vines, we finally see the fruits of our labor bear our own reward. Small bunches of jewel-like Syrah yield intense wine with exquisite finesse.
The final step in the journey awaits, where the most challenging trials are recognized we reap the bounty of our efforts. The Reward is as opulent as the most prized of treasures bestowed upon any hero. This Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah comes from our Family Ranch Vineyard and tastes of ripe cherry, bunches of fresh wildflowers, and seasoned with a hint of pepper. We recommend aging your Reward for up to 10 years.