THE HARVEST: The 2010 growing season in the Roussillon was punctuated by a second year of drought. From November 2009 through April 2010 total rainfall was measured at 224 liters per square meter. The cold wind (locally called the Tramontana or Tramuntana in Catalan) arrived on May 31st disrupting flowering and set. This was followed by a hail storm on June 18 further reducing the crop. The summer was very hot without rain, and fruit developed sugars early. The decision was made to begin bringing in fruit August 31st (two-three weeks earlier than “normal”) in an effort to maintain as much freshness and acid as possible.

Grapes for this wine were picked in mid-September with an average specific gravity of 1.105 or a potential alcohol of 14.3%. Grapes were first culled in the vineyard and then again at the crusher while manually reviewing and placing the bunches one by one into the hopper. Berries were separated from their stems and gently placed onto a conveyer where the eyes and hands of three to four additional people cull again, insuring pristine fruit into the crusher. Grapes are lightly crushed and then sent to a waiting concrete fermenter.

THE WINE: The bottled wine is both lush and fresh due to low yields and early picking respectively. The aromas are effusive and robust exhibiting wild black raspberry and garrigues. The flavors are a bit more tame, with an array of red/black fruit flavors and an earthly, brambly finish supported by silky tannins.

This wine includes approximately 3% old vine carignan that is part of the vineyard mix, a tradition of the early vigneron (blending in the field rather than in the winery). Grenache loves to bed down with carignan which adds a firm backbone of tannin and acid.

  • Harvest: September 13-15
  • Specific Gravity: 1.105
  • Varietal Mix: 97% grenache noir, 3% carignan
  • Yield: 15 hl/ha (approximately 1 ton/acre)
  • Alcohol: 14.6% by volume
  • TA: 5.7 g/L
  • pH: 3.67

A fifth generation from Russian River Valley in Sonoma County Eugenia was born in Santa Rosa and raised in the Bay Area.

After an uneventful sojourn at university (OK maybe not, it was the late sixties after all) and a brief flirtation with law, banking, and Hollywood she landed home again in Sonoma County.  She had uncovered her passion for wine (and food) after one superb dining experience in the city of fallen angels when the historical/cultural/science/art and agriculture synergy clicked.Her first industry job was in the tasting room at Sutter Home Winery in Napa Valley explaining the delights and delicacies of white zinfandel. This quickly lead to a retreat to the vineyard, her real love.

Apprenticeships with Joseph Swan and Warren Dutton fulfilled her budding interest in viticulture and broadened her knowledge of grape growing with an emphasis on pinot noir and chardonnay.  This was followed by “stages” in Burgundy with Pousse d’Or (red wine) and Etienne Sauzet (white wine).

Back home it was time to learn the rest of the business and she enriched her  journey as GM of Hop Kiln Winery (RRV, Sonoma County), President and CEO of Bouchaine Vineyards (Carneros, Napa Valley) and President of Vine Cliff Winery (Oakville, Napa Valley).

In 1994 she realized a dream of establishing her own label in Russian River Valley, Keegan Cellars, specializing in pinot noir and chardonnay.

Only romance could tear her away from her beloved California, vineyards and winemaking.

A move to Oregon (the romance part!) resulted in a weird bend in the road and in 2003 she founded Tsarina Wines, a fine wine distribution house headquartered in Portland.  It was here that Eugenia fell in love with grenache.

She sold this company in  2009 and quickly returned to her roots in the vineyard and the winery, but with a new muse.

Our First Vintage

Year AOC Maury
2010 The growing season in the Roussillon was punctuated by a second year of drought. The cold wind (tramontane, locally called the tramuntana in Catalan) arrived on May 31st disrupting flowering and set. This was followed by a hail storm on June 18 further reducing the crop. The summer was very hot without rain, and fruit developed sugars early.Wines from this vintage tend to be full and rich, even powerful. Picking decisions were absolutely critical as the season arrived fast and furious. Delayed picking resulted in jammy overripe wines. Precise picking resulted in full bodied wines with the proper balance of acid acid and tannin.

Old Vine Grenache Project

Combing the world in search of old vine grenache vineyards that yield extraordinary fruit and distinguished wines.

Born and Raised in Concrete

I was first introduced to Jean-Roger Calvet on a balmy, breezy June afternoon walking over the freshly mowed grass field outside La Verrière, Provence, the venue for the First International Grenache Symposium.

The symposium itself was a bit of serendipity.While in Europe on my first exploratory trip David brought to my attention this new exciting gathering of grenache aficionados.  It was simply a coincidence that I was in the neighborhood, but I find it no coincidence that the wine world was beginning to focus on grenache. I am obviously not the only one with this beauty on her mind.

What an unexpected climax to almost three months of research on this very grape.Jean-Roger impressed me as a quiet, modest, and polite man. Young and handsome he seemed almost shy. I thought that it might be because he did not speak English. I was wrong on a number of counts (his English is excellent) and indeed he is modest and polite, but not shy.

I returned to France for harvest 2010 and busted my rear for a couple of weeks in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and then a couple more in the Roussillon. I was so taken with the area that I was ready to “settle down” in Maury and throw my lot in with the ruddy, sun worn people of Catalonia. This was the first Old World statement of grenache that I wanted to make. Jean-Roger and his wife Marie became my first “partners” in the OVGP.

They are hardworking, fun, and warm. Jean-Roger handles the winemaking, Marie the vineyards.  They both oversee the business, sales, and marketing of their small winery Thunevin-Calvet.  They have been invaluable in helping me launch this project, navigate the bureaucracy (that is a French word after all!) and the culture.

Simply put:  I could not have done this without them.

Family of Wine(s)

No Man is an Island…Thankfully

And thankful is the right word… the many people and businesses that have supported my work on the Old Vine Grenache Project.

Crush Creative Packaging

Carrie HigginsCrush Creative Packaging was established in 2005 by long time Wine Label Printing Veteran Carrie Higgins. Crush provides fine quality wine label printing (Digital, Flexo and Offset), screw caps closures (custom and stock), screen printed bottles, project management services, and packaging consultation.

There’s drama in a package. The size, the shape, the feel creates mystery and interest. The package makes a promise of great things to come. We create that promise.” — Carrie Higgins


Head for Design

NowDesign Creative Services is a Salem based design studio that focuses on print design, packaging development, and identity design for the Oregon wine industry.

“Our Manifesto: I believe that effective branding is the product of paying close attention to detail, and planning carefully. I believe in the power of graphic design — I believe that it can change minds and change lives. I believe that clear and crisp communication is the business of graphic designers. I believe that inside every communication problem is a powerful solution unique to the circumstances. I believe design is not art for art’s sake — design must serve a purpose. I believe in wearing a lot of gray, a perfect cup of coffee, and obsessing over mindless details. I will not work until I’ve cleaned my office, and even then, I need the perfect pen.” — Chris Noud


Tadpole Graphics

Luisa SimoneLuisa Simone, the owner and designer at Tadpole Graphics, provides a wide range of services to businesses in the food and wine space; including Website development, Internet marketing (a.k.a. SEO), logo design and printed marketing materials. Intelligent design—along with the know-how to leverage today’s powerful digital technologies—can transform even small design projects into powerful marketing tools.

“I have a company motto, that should be the mantra of every startup company. Start small. Think big. Look great.” — Luisa Simone