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Gary Eberle and the Making of Modern Syrah S Y R A H ’ S P R O U D F A T H E R • 81 Also attending that year was a young winemaker from Australia named Brian Croser. Croser is now one of the eminences on the Australian wine industry; in 1971, he was a young recent hire at the venerable South Australia winery Thomas Hardy and Sons. Upon hiring, Croser was promptly shipped off to Davis for intensive technical training. He was there just three months, after which he went to Europe for more training. He represented a winemaking culture and tradition that was

wine producers organization is known as Les Vignerons de Franschhoek, and they participate in Bastille Day celebrations, which tourism publicists have revived. In fact, there is no evidence that more than one or two of the Huguenot settlers had any of the winemaking skills van der Stel had hoped for. Most had been cottage farmers or unskilled laborers, few with any signifi cant connection to winemaking in their native country—although a third or so of them seem to have had occasional employment as vineyard laborers. This has not prevented a romantic legend

it is also easy to read when you want to track from one set of facts to another. It takes lots of information to understand wine. History, grapes, winemaking, terminology, geography, and critical review all come into play in the wine choices we make. And so do a variety of information sources. This book does all of that and more for California wine. A B r i e f H i s t o r y o f W i n e i n C a l i f o r n i a California wine history is short compared with Europe’s, but it has moved very quickly over time, and it is helpful to know how California got to


character, and what could he do to avoid that fate? When did he need to step in, and when did he need to get out of the way? John Buechsenstein had similar concerns over the course of his long career as a win- emaker and wine educator in California and elsewhere, whether in the old vine fruit in the MacDowell Valley in Mendocino County, or the estate plantings at Fife, Phelps, and other places, and not least in his last ambitious winemaking venture, the Sauvignon Republic Wine Company, where with Paul Dolan and John Ash he parsed out the nuances of Sauvignon Blanc

Parker’s influence is so great that many wineries have styled their wines into what he calls “hedonistic fruit bombs” simply to please his palate. Why does one man’s palate decide the winners and losers in the world of wine? Why are consumers at risk of confronting a sea of undifferentiated wine? In a word, politics. Critics and commentators widely acknowledge the importance of the growing area and winemaking style in creating what ends up in the bottle. But, more than wine consumers realize, politics matters, too. Politics determines not only which grapes grow where


Preface This history is a first attempt to tell the story of grape growing and winemaking in the United States from the beginning and in detail. Now that winegrowing in the United States has succeeded so brilliantly after long years of frustration, and now that it is beginning once again to spread to nearly every state in the union, it seems to me particularly fitting that the many obscure and forgotten people and their work lying behind that success should be brought out into the light. It is also in- structive to see how many names celebrated in other

become increas- ingly integrated. Retail store shelves in the United States and other nations are now fi lled with wine products from all over the world. Large multina- tional fi rms that source grapes and produce wine in a variety of countries have become important players in world wine markets. Joint ventures between wine fi rms in different countries are proliferating. Winemaking consultants, called fl ying winemakers, assist in directing wine producing across the globe, spreading innovative new vinifi cation techniques and advances in technology. Australia

omissions, the act was further weakened by an exception allowing heads of families to make up to 200 gallons annually of “fruit juices” exclusively for consumption in the home. The language of the provision was obscure and contradictory, but as we shall see, its effect was to license home winemaking. Another exception allowed the production of alcohol for “non-beverage” purposes. Mostly, this meant the large-scale production of alcohol for industrial uses—in paints, solvents, and chemicals, and in the manufacturing processes for textiles, rubber goods, film, smokeless

smallest artisanal producers. Second, California makes the most wine of any state in the United States, and it has done so throughout the twentieth century until today. California’s Wine Country also most closely approximates European viticultural regions, with a set of winemaking traditions, including wine- makers who articulate terroir as a mode of thinking and doing influencing their everyday practices. Third, significant tastemakers and taste producers are engaged in celebrating the bounty of the region, including its unique tastes. This includes a dynamic group of

reason that each of them is included here. John Abbott’s Washington winemaking experience began at Canoe Ridge in the mid-1990s; Caleb Foster spent eight years at Woodward Canyon prior to founding Buty; Mike Wade is an experienced grower with a great vineyard site and a natural gift for winemaking; and Charles Smith is, well, Charles Smith. Bottom line: nothing in this book took more of my time and attention than compiling this list of the Top Twenty. Like any list, it can be challenged, argued over, or picked apart. But as I look for the leaders in terms of