Friday, May 25, 2007

Winery Watch: Peachy Canyon Vineyards

An ongoing series of Friday posts highlighting California family wineries. You might not be familiar with all of these vineyards and winemakers--yet--but they produce wines that speak with the voices of this state's people, places, and history. They are worth seeking out. These posts will be longer than most posts on the blog, but I hope you will find them perfect for leisurely weekend reading and internet browsing. To read previous posts in the series, click here.

In 1988 Nancy and Doug Beckett purchased some zinfandel grapes from Benito Dusi's famous vineyards and made them into the first ever Peachy Canyon Wine. This bottling put them on the zinfandel map, and they've been at the viticultural center of the growing popularity of this varietal ever since. (photo courtesy of Peachy Canyon)

Peachy Canyon is primarily known as a zinfandel winery with 50 acres of the grape under cultivation. But Peachy Canyon also produces petite sirah (5 acres under cultivation at various vineyards), cabernet sauvignon (35 acres under cultivation), and even merlot and some whites varietals like viognier (13 acres under cultivation). This has taken their case production from a small, 500-case level to a massive 46,000 case level. Still, the Beckett family retains the ownership and management of the winery, and oversees the wine making. Today, Nancy and Doug's son Jake supervises the vineyards, and their son Josh leads the winemaking efforts. (photo of Jake, Josh, and Doug courtesy of Peachy Canyon)

Through the careful management of their estate vineyards, and their partnership with other growers in the Paso Robles area like Benito Dusi, the Becketts have found a way to foster and develop the unique flavor profiles of various area microclimates in their wines. From the cool, marine influences and nutrient-rich soil found in the Old Schoolhouse Vineyard, to the extreme temperature fluctuations and clay loam of the Snow Vineyard, Peachy Canyon's vineyards put a special stamp on each of the wines that they produce, which makes each special and distinct as you will see from the notes below.

If you're in Paso Robles wine country, be sure to step into their main tasting room located in a historic 1886 schoolhouse. Surrounded by estate vineyards, old oak trees, and places to picnic with a bottle of Peachy Canyon wine, you'll be in the perfect place to contemplate how important place and family is in this vineyard story.

Here are my tasting notes of Peachy Canyon Wines I've bought recently, or tasted at the Family Winemakers Event in Pasadena in March 2007. Clicking on the highlighted name will take you to an internet wine site where you might be able to find a merchant near you who stocks the wine, or to the Peachy Canyon online store. Prices listed here are the winery's suggested retail or the price I paid for it; as always the prices you find near you might be higher or lower.

2004 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Westside ($12.99, Costco). An outstanding zin, with jammy aromas of blackberry and huckleberry and notes of sweet cedar. The flavors are rich with huckleberry, cedar, and black pepper. A tinge of herbal eucalyptus enters into the finish of this wine. This is sold out at the winery, but you can still find it on the shelves at many retailers. Excellent QPR.

2005 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Westside ($19): The latest release of their excellent value zin, with 15% alc/vol. Peppery blackberry aromas and flavors have a hint of jamminess to them from the ripeness of the fruit. A rich and round wine. Excellent QPR.

2005 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Old School House ($30). This wine is just about to be released to the public, and it was my favorite at the tasting. More restrained and complex in style with aromas and flavors of red fruits and spice held in nice balance. A lovely spicy finish, with notes of cocoa and coffee, finishes the wine. 14% alc/vol. Very Good QPR.

2005 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Especial ($40): This special wine is blended from a variety of the highest quality grapes from the estate vineyards. It is a warm, balanced blend that has black fruits and rich spices in the aromas and palate. 14.5% alc/vol. Good QPR.

2005 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Snow Vineyard ($30): This huge zin comes from the warmest of the Peachy Canyon vineyards, the Snow Vineyard. Here you will be struck by the jammy blackberry aromas and flavors, as well as warm cedar notes that accent all that fruit. 15.5% alc/vol. Good QPR.

I also had a 2006 Peachy Canyon Viognier that was highly aromatic and balanced, with floral, honeydew, and litchi aromas and flavors. I can't find out any information about this wine, so cannot tell you when it will be released or what it will be selling for, but if you see it and love viognier, buy it. It's good stuff, too!


Ken and Theresa Hoggins said...

I recently reviewed the 2005 Westside and found it to be Very Good as well. We also liked the 2004 Jester

David said...

another good 1 in the series, I hope I can find this out here in the Boston area, as I love zin. Have you tried their petite syrah? I enjoy that varietal too especially in grilling season!

Dr. Debs said...

Hi Ken and Teresa! Didn't get to try the Jester, nor the petite sirah, David, but I look forward to doing so when the chance presents itself!

Dr. Debs said...

Ken: Just scored a 2004 Jester at Costco for $12.99. Thanks for the recommendation, and looking forward to trying it!