A Moment with Viticulturist, Vintner, and Winemaker David Parrish

David Parrish TR
Do you know the name David Parrish? If not, you should. This third generation viticulturist, vintner, and winemaker of Parrish Family Vineyard in the Paso Robles AVA of California is truly a Renaissance man of the wine industry, having patented groundbreaking trellis designs in his early days as a student at UC-Davis and while holding key viticulturist roles during his early career in the Napa Valley. He has been a wine grape grower since 1995 and a winemaker since 2004. I had the honor of asking Parrish ten questions and in his own words, he describes what inspires him to do it all from vineyard to bottle.

Do you remember which wine during that fateful sunset evening inspired you to pursue winemaking? How did it inspire you?

It was probably a Cabernet Sauvignon that had me daydreaming about sipping and swirling my own wine one day. Viticulture has been in my blood since the time my grandfather started growing grapes in Atascadero, before Prohibition and the Great Depression. Seventy years later, I decided to take my grandfather’s passion a step further opening my own winery. I had no idea the love affair it would become. I began producing our boutique wine in 2004 and opened a tasting room in 2011. Today, we are busy building a new winery and tasting room which will open in early 2018. It just keeps getting better.

What transpired during the time between your work with Napa producers to your new venture in Paso Robles? Did you work with producers in other areas of California, the United States, and/or internationally?

I graduated from U.C. Davis in 1974 and started a vineyard trellising company which I’m still involved with today. I was fortunate to meet a group of Napa growers who wanted to make Napa a world-class wine growing region and one of my professors, Dr. Kliewer, convinced me to accept their invite to work with them. I moved to Napa and started working with Robert Mondavi and Bob Steinhauer of Beringer Vineyards. After a few months, I was working with most of the wineries in the Napa area on their trellises. I currently hold two dozen patents for trellis design and have worked with partners all over the world.

But, my heart always wanted to come home to the Central Coast and grow my own grapes. I planted 40 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon on our Creston, California ranch in 1995 and in 2004 made the first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon; in 2011 the tasting room opened in downtown Paso Robles. In 2013 and 2014 we planted 80 acres in our Templeton Vineyard and 30 acres in our Adelaida Vineyard; which will be the location of the new winery. We will always be a boutique, family-run winery and are thankful so many people have supported us and our wines which has allowed us to grow.

Why did you choose Paso Robles to make wine? Was there a reason besides living there?

Other than my grandfather’s roots, I wanted to return to the Central Coast because of the people. I spent a lot of time in Napa and know the beautiful fruit that can be developed there but, I wanted to work with family-owned wineries just like the one I wanted to build. I think there is something magical that happens when winemakers live on the land they love and are able to truly give it the daily attention and care it demands. I was glad that I was right about that instinct because the more our partner wineries develop, the more we all lean on and support each other. It’s uncommon and it’s characteristically Central Coast.

What is your favorite varietal grape to grow? Is it also your favorite to make? If not, please share why.

We grow great grapes, but my passion has always been Cabernet Sauvignon with its round, full-body and elegant finish. Recently, our Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon was rated 94 points by Wine Enthusiast. I call it a problem child with its wild temper that can be matured into a lovely and complex expression.

What grape is the most challenging to grow in Paso Robles? Why?

See above

What varietal wines do you currently make? Any new prospects on the horizon?

Estate Grenache Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay/Viognier blend, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, two Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah blends, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and an Estate Clone 6 Cabernet Sauvignon

Do you have any formal winemaking education?

I graduated from U.C. Davis in 1974 with a degree majoring in biology with a chemistry/math minor and completed several courses in winemaking. I’ve found the best way to learn anything is to simply study and experience as much as you can.

Is your family also involved in the business?

This has always been a family business to us, dating back from my grandfather. Today, my wife, daughter and son-in-law are all involved in the day-to-day operations of the winery; even the dogs have a job.

What do you love about Paso Robles as a place to live, grow grapes, and make wine?

The best part about Paso Robles is the people. Hands down. I’m a member of the Paso Robles CAB Collective which is an organization that brings wineries together on behalf of the entire region. We work together to help promote each other and to solve any issues in our vineyards, with our grapes, basically anything that comes up. We rely on each other for the betterment of all. It’s an amazing thing.

Is winemaking everything you thought it would be? Why?

It’s so much harder and also so much more rewarding. I knew vines from my trellis work, but being a winemaker is a completely different experience. Caring for and knowing about the fruit is consuming. I’m lucky my family is also involved so we can share the highs and lows together. It takes a lot of work, but the rewards are so great. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

A Trio of January Wines

2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles
2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles

It seems like yesterday that it was 2015 and now it is mid-January already. Where have these few weeks gone? Only two weeks until February (and my birthday, yay)!

NV Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux
NV Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux (source: snooth.com)

Earlier this month, I published a review of four wines from Trump Winery, a review of Domaine Carneros for American Winery Guide, and a review of the NV Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux for Snooth, so I am still actively writing. I hope that you will read these reviews if you have not already! However, the beginning-of-the year craziness and workplace intensity have not allowed me to focus as much on other wine samples I received late last year and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. That being said, here are three that I have tasted and recommend for your enjoyment.

2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles
2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles

2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles (sample, $45 SRP)
The Treana Red is comprised of 75% cabernet sauvignon and 25% syrah aged 15 months in 65% new and 35% once-used French oak. It is young and voluptuous, with an apparent clinginess and deep purple color in the glass that is unrivaled. On the palate, the mouthfeel is sumptuous and the tannins firm, with aromas and flavors of blackberries, blackcurrant, vanilla, and spices. I sipped this wine over the course of three days with and without food and it was still quite powerful on day three. My favorite food pairing with the Treana was a hearty steak. Decant this and drink now or hold this one for 10-20 years. 15% ABV, 7000 cases produced.

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT
2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT (sample, $11 SRP)
This wine finishes the trifecta of Banfi Wines that I received as samples and it might very well be I saved the best for last. The 2013 Centine Rosé (or Rosato, as I suggested it be called), produced in stainless steel,  is simply lovely for a wine that comes in at around $11. It’s a blend of sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, so it’s more of a medium-bodied rose, with nice aromatics and flavors of strawberries and wild raspberries. The finish is longer than I would expect from a wine at this price point and the acid shines. I paired this pretty, salmon-pink wine with tail-off, pink shrimp prepared with butter and a touch of this rosé. For those inquiring minds, yes, I cooked. Enjoy this rosé, er, rosato, with a variety of foods.  ABV 12.5%.

2011 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Roble, Castilla y León
2011 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Roble, Castilla y León

2011 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Roble, Castilla y León (sample, $18 SRP)
This is the third sample of garnacha sent to me by Magnum Wines International, LLC and New Spain Wines. Similarly to the other samples, the grapes for the 7 Navas Roble come from the Alto Alberche Valley in Castilla y León, where the vines are 60-70 years old, resulting in lower yields, but very intense, high-quality berries. Unlike the previous two, the 2012 Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven and 2013 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Garnacha Joven, this wine sees four months of aging in twice-used French oak barrels and was not bottled until March 2014. It still retains the characteristics of old-vine, high-altitude garnacha, such as floral aromatics, bright cherry fruit, and spice. However, it has more noticeable tannin structure and body from the oak aging. This is a great value at under $20. 14.5% ABV, 3200 bottles (266.67 cases) produced.

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT
2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT

At this moment in time, I have one more post planned for January. In the works are more reviews for American Winery Guide and Snooth in the coming months. I hope that I can count on you for your continued support and readership.

Cheers!
Beth

Got #hashtags?: #VirtualVines, #ZinEx, and #BWETaste

This past week and a half, I had the good fortune to participate in three events, two virtual, one live: #VirtualVines with Old York Cellars (January 29), Zinfandel Advocates and Producers’ (ZAP’s) annual #ZinEx, Zinfandel Experience (January 31), and #BWETaste (February 4), a virtual tasting with Hope Family Wines, a sponsor of the Boston Wine Expo, which I attended two years ago. Here is my roundup of the wines and events.

Old York Cellars Southpaw Collection
Old York Cellars Southpaw Collection

#VirtualVines with Old York Cellars
As you may recall, Old York Cellars invited me to participate in a similar virtual tasting a few months ago, which resulted in my first experience with New Jersey wines. When they asked me again to taste their port-style offerings, I couldn’t refuse, even though I don’t typically drink port-style or fortified wines because of my palate sensitivity to alcohol. The samples were provided by Old York Cellars. Below are my thoughts.

2012 Old York Cellars Southpaw White
2012 Old York Cellars Southpaw White

2012 Southpaw White (port-style Riesling)
Bronze Medal: US National Wine Competition
20.6% alcohol, 7.5% residual sugar, $24.00 (500ml bottle) at the winery
Can be cellared up to eight years.

The wine was gold in color due to longer, stainless-steel aging. The wine spent a year to a year and a half in the tank before bottling. Without food, aromas and flavors included baked apple and peach and honey. It had low acidity, a long finish, and noticeable alcohol. With vanilla bean ice cream, the dairy softened the presence of alcohol, while the sweetness of the ice cream enhanced citrus fruit flavors on the palate. The alcohol should integrate with more time in the bottle and as the wine opens up by exposure to air.

2012 Old York Cellars Southpaw Red
2011 Old York Cellars Southpaw Red

2011 Southpaw Red (ruby port-style Maréchal Foch, a hearty, hybrid grape)
20.57% alcohol, 5% residual sugar, $22.00 (500ml bottle) at the winery
Can be cellared up to nine years.

This wine was garnet in color and barrel aged. It was drier than the white, with a burst of candied cherry and plum flavors, a light oak quality, low acidity, and noticeable alcohol. My food pairing choice was blue cheese, a classic, contrasting palate pairing. The cheese enhanced the fruit forwardness of the wine. Again, the dairy softened the presence of higher alcohol. This wine will also soften with more bottle ageing and after being open for a while.

If you have a sensitive palate like me, you might prefer these wines with more bottle age and/or paired with food.

D-Cubed Zinfandels, Napa Valley
D-Cubed Zinfandels, Napa Valley

ZAP’s #ZinEx
I was supposed to attend the Saturday tasting last year, but my big move to Napa got in the way. Lucky for me, ZAP and their public relations company, Elemental Meme, gave me a second chance to attend. I was a little wary, as I prefer small, intimate tastings, not large public tastings, but I said yes. I rented a car and headed to the Golden Gate Club on the most gorgeous day of 2015 to taste some Zinfandel. I am a lightweight, partially because of my aforementioned palate sensibilities, but I tasted around 25ish Zinfandels in four hours, which didn’t even scratch the surface. My key takeaways from the event were:

2013 Bedrock Wine Company Old Vine Zinfandel
2013 Bedrock Wine Company Old Vine Zinfandel

This was the most organized public tasting I’ve ever attended. Entry was allowed in increments, so not everyone was there at once. People flowed in and out, which helped greatly with crowd control.

The event provided ample water, spit cups, dump buckets, bread, and cheese. There’s really no reason that anyone should have left the event impaired, unless they didn’t take advantage of what was provided. Always remember: equal parts wine, water, cheese, spitting, and dumping.

1997 Ridge Jimsomare Ranch Zinfandel, Santa Cruz Mountains
1997 Ridge Jimsomare Ranch Zinfandel, Santa Cruz Mountains

There were barrel samples, current and upcoming releases, and some library offerings. The 1997 Ridge Jimsomare Ranch Zinfandel , Santa Cruz Mountains, was a show stopper. I was amazed at how this wine held up, still with great fruit and acidity.

2012 Mazzocco Warm Springs Ranch Zinfandel Reserve, Dry Creek Valley
2012 Mazzocco Warm Springs Ranch Zinfandel Reserve, Dry Creek Valley

Not all Zinfandels are big, jammy fruit bombs. In fact, none of the ones I tasted from Ridge, D-Cubed, Miro Cellars, Hendry, Bedrock Wine Company, Mazzocco, or Four Vines fell into that Zinfandel stereotype. Zinfandels, when well made, are food-friendly wines with a balance of fruit, spice, acidity, and tannin.

2012 Four Vines Maverick Zinfandel, Amador County
2012 Four Vines Maverick Zinfandel, Amador County

Many Zinfandel producers add a small percentage of another grape variety or varieties, the most common being Petite Sirah, to give the wine a boost. The most different blend I tasted was 2012 Four Vines Maverick Zinfandel, Amador County, with 10% Barbera, a wild berry child with ample acidity and spice.

2013 Miro Cellars Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel, Russian River Valley
2013 Miro Cellars Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel, Russian River Valley

Zinfandels are produced in a variety of climates and AVAs, but the most unique came from Miro Cellars, two single-vineyard, Russian River Valley Zinfandels (upcoming releases). The cooler climate produces fruit with more acid, red berry flavors, and a peppery zing.

2012 Hendry Block 28 Zinfandel, Napa Valley
2012 Hendry Block 28 Zinfandel, Napa Valley

Ahem, Napa makes more than just Cabernet Sauvignon. Just ask D-Cubed and Hendry. Just sayin’.

Hope Family Wines Selections
Hope Family Wines Selections

#BWETaste
This was not my first Boston Wine Expo tasting, but it was my first experience with Hope Family Wines based in Paso Robles, California. I was impressed with the variety and quality of the three samples provided to us by our sponsor: 2013 Liberty School Merlot, Troublemaker Blend 8, and 2012 Treana Red. The social media representative from Hope Family Wines was a riot and there was lots of fun camaraderie during the hour-long tasting. Below are my reviews, originally published on Vivino.

2012 Liberty School Merlot, Central Coast
2012 Liberty School Merlot, Central Coast

2013 Liberty School Merlot, $16.00 from the winery
Throw out all of your biases and past experiences with Merlot. This baby is dark and dense, with blackberry, blackcurrant, and black cherry flavors, accompanied by a kiss of vanilla, a hint of spice and a touch of red berry acidity on the finish. Pair this with steak, burgers, or pork.

Troublemaker Blend 8
Troublemaker Blend 8

Troublemaker Blend 8, $20 from the winery
Here comes Troublemaker Blend 8 (2011, 2012, and 2013), a Rhône-style blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, plus Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Floral, fruity, and spicy, with aromas and flavors of violets, black cherry, raspberry, cocoa, baking spices, and pepper. It finishes with nice acidity. Oh, and it’s sassy, just like me.

2012 Treana Red, Paso Robles
2012 Treana Red, Paso Robles

2012 Treana Red, $45 from the winery
Treana is Hope Family Wines’ flagship brand. Treana Red is comprised of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, and is deep purple in color. It dazzles the palate with a velvety mouthfeel, dark, rich plum and blackberry flavors, and a peppery, spicy finish. It’s bold, yet refined. I’d pair this with hearty meat dishes and strong, pungent cheeses.

A big thank you to Old York Cellars, ZAP, Elemental Meme, Hope Family Wines, and Boston Wine Expo for the opportunity to taste lots of different wines and participate in these events. It’s been a wine-tastic week and a half.

Peace out,
Beth