We were finally ready for our last winery visit on this trip.
I had become fond of the wines of Petrichor when I had tasted them at Rhone Rangers tastings. Sadly, we weren’t attending the Rhone Rangers event in LA this past year, but since owner Margaret Foley and I had discussed the possibility of visiting her in Sonoma should we be in the area, this seemed like a great opportunity to do this.
And it certainly was…
“Petrichor” is defined as the scent of rain on dry earth. When Jim and Margaret Foley founded their winery in 2009, they were introduced to and inspired by this evocative term when their good friend artist Stephanie Gardner painted a series based on it.
I love tasting wine anywhere. Some wineries are in industrial parks, some just barrel rooms, some have beautiful tasting rooms. It doesn’t matter to me. But…tasting at the vineyard can really give one a sense of place. Certain vineyards convey this specialness to me more than others, as we were driving up the long winding road into the Mayacamas Mountains into Sonoma County’s newest AVA named Fountaingrove, I got that feeling we were going somewhere unique.
Planted on just two and a half acres, the eight thousand vines of organically farmed Syrah and Grenache are planted in volcanic soil and exposed to the weather from the North, West and South. The high elevation and exposure forces the vines to work hard, which helps to ensure concentration of flavors.
And if the unique terroir wasn’t enough, the Foleys have assembled an all-star team that pays total respect to the quality of the fruit and climate. The founding winemaker was legendary Duncan Arnot Meyers and the reins have recently been turned over to Megan and Ryan Glaab of Ryme Cellars. Lee Martinelli Jr. handles vineyard management and rockstar Steve Matthiasson is consulting viticulturist. [I make no apology for calling Mr. Matthiasson a rockstar.]
Up until recently, Petrichor made only one wine called Les Trois, a blend of two Syrah clones and Grenache that always impressed me with flavors that did not overpower the taster or each other but complemented each other beautifully.
The Foleys recently added two new wines which Karen and I, along with good friend Rick Fraga, had the pleasure of tasting with Margaret. The 2014 Rose is a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Grenache and they also now make a 100% Grenache. All three wines showed a great elegance that I associate with the Petrichor wines along with depth of flavor. Especially exciting to me was the Grenache, which had that perfect bite on the back palate that makes a well-made Grenache always leaving one wanting more.
As we walked through the vineyard with Margaret, it was evident this would never be a big commercial operation. The size of the property limits that, as well as the respect that the Foleys have for this place. Kudos to them for not only making great wine, but doing what they can to limit their impact on the environment. From the organic farming to the lightweight bottles and lack of foil around the bottlenecks, the Petrichor wines are truly all about the wine and the ground it comes from. Margaret told me: “The winery is powered by solar and we are electric car fanatics. I love delivering our wine in an electric car, it furthers our mission to tread lightly on our beautiful planet.”
Our visit to Petrichor was truly one of the highlights of this trip.
Our day of winery visits with Rick Fraga was done, but our evening wasn’t. We agreed to meet later for dinner at one of our favorite area restaurants, Bravas in Healdsburg. An added bonus was that Rick’s friend Sue Straight [aka the Wine Wench, check out her website or visit her at Trentadue winery] was going to be joining us. Sue has been working in the wine industry for almost 30 years and not only has an amazing amount of wine knowledge but a lot of great stories as well. Enjoying the Bravas’ tapas style dining and sharing tales and wine with friends new and old was a great way to end our Sonoma visit. We are looking forward to returning as soon as possible.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com