It’s that time of year again. Yes, the glorious season of harvest.
But, that’s not the time of year I am referring. Right now, for whatever reason, is fire season. From the Mexico/California border all the way up through Washington, the largest wine (and produce) producing states have been set ablaze.
Record high temperatures, little rainfall, high winds, and careless individuals have created some of the largest fires in the history of California, and now this includes parts of Oregon and Washington.
For vintners and winemakers, many who haven’t begun their harvest, are worried their entire vintage will be ruined. This is on top of Covid, which is doing it’s best to destroy the industry, as tasting rooms have been closed or working with partial visitor capacity since March, along with restaurants and wine bars being relatively shuddered. It is a tough time for wine.
But, even as wineries fear the future, there are the stories of those that faced destruction and still found a way to come back.
The fires that ravaged Napa and Sonoma in October 2017 burnt Napa’s Signorello Estate to the ground. (I had sent a group the day before the overnight Atlas Fire to the property to experience their lavish luncheon tasting. The day before!)
When walking through the rubble days after the fire, Owner Ray Signorello, Jr. promised to rebuild. The vineyards, crush pad, cellar, and most important aging 2016 and most of the 2017 vintages, survived. Forty years after the father-and-son team of Ray Signorello, Sr. and Ray Signorello, Jr. began, buying their 100 acre hillside estate, just south of the Stags Leap District on the Silverado Trail, they weren’t going to let a little fire keep them down.
The task was to rebuild a building, and this time do it smart, with fireproof and earthquake safe materials. In 2018 the winery opened a make-shift tasting room to welcome guests back, again offering full tastings with pairings, and a new ATV tour of the hillside vineyard estate. Right now, in the days of Covid has been put on hold, but will resume once the state allows. In the meantime you can toast their unwavering determination and spirit with one of their stellar wines. From an impressive team, including Consulting Winemaker, Cecelia Welch, Winemaker Priyanka French, and Vintner Steve Matthiasson, Signorello wines are elegant, expressive, and elevated.
The Signorello Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($100) is textured and concentrated, highlighting firm tannins with a note of rustic acidity, indicating a wine that should age well for many years. Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice amount of Cabernet Franc (about 12.5%) and a touch of Merlot, the black cherry, blackberry, and cassis filled wine has a beautiful floral note of violets and lilac. The palate is lush and generous, with a lingering finish that, though delicious now, with continue to evolve.
As this year’s fires literally are adding oil to the flames to an already difficult year, please support your favorite brands by buying direct, if you can. And to all our wine country friends, stay safe. #cheers