Grape Varieties at Fess Parker Winery
Known as Cannonao (or Cannonau) in Italy and Garnacha Tinta (or Garnaxa) in Spain, Grenache Noir (or just Grenache) is the French name by which we, as Californians, most know this old variety. Though its origins have been challenged by Italian researchers, the strongest genetic evidence points to it most likely having originated from the north-eastern province of Aragón in Spain.
From there, it made its way into the southern Rhône becoming France's second most planted variety after Merlot as of 2009 and overall one of the world's most planted wine varieties. Often blended with Syrah and Mourvedre throughout France, Australia and California making “GSM” a commonly used acronym for such blends.
On The Vine
Vigorous, with strong wood and upright growth particularly well suited to fairly warm climates with soils high in limestone or lightly acid, gravelly or stony soils. Buds early and ripens relatively late with low to moderate acidity and a potential for high sugar levels.
Depending on yields and water stress, grenache's characteristics can vary from pale-colored, fruit-driven, sweet and approachable to a much more dense, deeper hued end of the spectrum showing more rustic herbal and spicy qualities and more noticeable tannins, particularly in its youth. It is also regarded for its ability to produce beautiful dry rosé.
Southern Rhône, Tavel (as Rosé), Lirac (as Rosé) and Provence (as Rosé) in France; Spain; Italy (as Cannonau); Australia; Washington state and California, United States.
Grenache in California
Introduced to California in the late 1850s, Grenache has enjoyed a fairly steady popularity among the state's winegrowers due to its versatility and natural resistance to heat, even if it's never quite achieved household-name status among American wine consumers. While much of what was produced throughout the twentieth century could be classified as sweet, cheap and not particularly memorable, its image has been largely repaired by a marked increase in quality led particularly by the efforts of the “Rhône Rangers” throughout the Central Coast. While there have been many excellent examples of its potential as a varietal wine in California, it has mostly earned itself a respectable place within Rhône style red blends (many of which are “GSM”s) much like it has in France and Australia.
Grenache at Fess Parker Winery
While sister winery, Epiphany, produces a varietal Grenache, at Fess Parker Winery it is used in many of our much-loved red blends contributing to the wines’ overall finesse, complexity of fruit and vibrance.