Loads of fruit, mellow tannins, and complex aromatics make this a go-to red. This wine fills the glass with aromas of dark fruit, pencil shavings, grilled bread and hints of freshly ground white pepper, which are complemented by flavors of black plums, preserves, cranberry and warm Okanagan cherry clafouti that’s been cooked in a cast iron pan.
A blend of Carignane from Hawkeye Ranch in Redwood Valley (39%), Carignane from Casa Roja Vineyard in Contra Costa (21%), Syrah from Ledgewood Vineyard in Suisun Valley (20%), and Zinfandel from Knox Vineyard in Redwood Valley (20%). These vineyards are all dry farmed and sustainable.
Each of these lots was fermented to dryness individually in stainless steel, then drained and pressed and aged in 12% once-used oak and 88% neutral French oak. The wine was racked only once after secondary fermentation was complete in each lot and then the wine was blended and put back to barrel for a total élevage of 10 months.
Redwood Valley, Hawkeye Ranch Carignane: The vines are an 80 years old heritage clonal selection and they are certified CCOF Certified Organic and Fish Friendly. The head-trained and dry-farmed vines have an amazing presence and are very large. This vineyard has warm daytime temps and cool evening giving a large diurnal temperature shift often of 50 degrees. This is one of the key elements that allow the fruit to be balanced and beaming with flavor at lower sugars, this allows me to harvest earlier and retain the lovely natural acidity, vibrant red fruits, and floral notes. The growers are the Johnson family, they are the fifth generation and are true stewards of the land in all that they do.
Contra Costa, Casa Roja Carignane: This is a historic field blended block that I have absolutely fallen head over heals in love with. I work with the entire vineyard and it is the oldest vineyard planted in the area planted in the late 1800s, and while it is over 90% Carignane it also has some Mourvèdre and Malvasia Nero interplanted in the block! This is as classic as it gets in old-world showing up in CA, this site is like walking on a beach as it sits on 100% sandy soils, giving rise to smaller, hardy bush vines. The vines are trained so the fruit is shaded from the wind and sun and the result is the intensity of flavors that opens to black fruits with a soft lushness due to the maturity of the tannins and the intensity of the site.
Suisun Valley, Roger King (Ledgewood Vineyard) Syrah: Roger is an amazing grower and a huge leader in advocating for sustainable practices in Suisun valley, this vineyard is dry-farmed and he is a firm believer in the art of paying attention in the vineyard so if any problems arise they can be treated locally (on a vine by vine base) not just systematically treating an entire vineyard. The flavors are intense and the tannins are lush and complex, the complexity of this Syrah gives a firm foundation to the blend whilst maintaining a softness. I included 33% whole cluster fermentation in this Syrah lot and it was fermented in an open-top fermentor with pigeage by yours truly, this added a complexity that I am really excited about.
Redwood Valley, Knox Vineyard Zinfandel: Knox vineyard sits across the street from Hawkeye Ranch and has been farmed by the Johnson Family for 28 years now. The vines are over 65 years old and they are head-trained and dry-farmed. This vineyard is an old Redwood Valley heritage clonal selection of Zinfandel on St. George rootstock. It is a majestic vineyard surrounded by redwood and oak trees, a classic California heritage site. I included 50% whole cluster fermentation and this Zinfandel was fermented in an open-top fermentor.
Appellation: 59% Mendocino, 21% Contra Costa, 20% Solano
Vineyards: Hawkeye, Casa Roja Vineyard, Ledgewood and Knox
We have a strong commitment to our environment and believe that sound practices are not only essential for the survival of the wine industry but also produce the highest quality wine. To that end, we’ve searched carefully to find vineyard sites that provide excellent fruit quality accompanied by earnestness on behalf of the grower.
We are extremely proud to have formed long-term collaborative relationships with growers at Hawkeye Ranch, Cerise Vineyard, Capp Inn Ranch, Casa Roja Vineyard, Ledgewood Vineyard, Knox Vineyard, and Babcock Vineyard.
Onward Wines are single-vineyard, site-driven wines and Farmstrong Wines are blended, and in both expressions, the vineyard sites are very special to me. I am a true believer in personal connection and there is a story behind each vineyard site and how it came to be part of my portfolio. In these stories, you will learn more about the people behind these vineyards. I liken my connection to these vineyards to that of one’s favorite shirt or coffee mug or chair. Like a well-worn fabric or a slightly chipped mug that may have initially caught my eye for its beauty, but over the years it has won my heart because it just feels right. When it comes to vineyards this happens too, and it is a combination of my connection with the vines themselves and my connection with those that tend them. For me, the grower’s hands are most definitely part of the terroir.
My style is about letting the vines speak. They are the art, I am the canvas, my job is to give them a chance to share their beauty in each and every vintage. My decisions are driven from the vineyard and the vintage, my cellar practices are to uphold the truths I find in the vineyard. To this end, I pick early looking for a balance of flavors at lower ripeness, as I find this is when each vineyard is in its most unique expression of self.
“I see these vineyards as treasures. As a winemaker, it is my goal to preserve these treasures and share them as wines.” – Faith Armstrong Foster
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I happened to have drank the 2015 Onward Hawkeye Ranch Carignane earlier tonight. It was a nice well made wine, and my first Carignane. I’m sure this is just as well made. And that case price is very tempting.
@kellybutler Agreed! Almost ready to pull the trigger to split a case with a friend who is a carignane nut. However, I would like to hear from some rats first, or at least some other outside authorities.
I picked up a case in March and if I didn’t have a case and a half of other stuff coming I’d do it again.
Here are my notes from my 3rd-to-last bottle of this that I just now opened. Fair warning - I’m a beer guy slowly adding wine guy to my repertoire.
Light clean mouthfeel. Not tannic or overly dry. Strawberry (and maybe not-quite-so-sour cranberry)
fruit but not sweet not jammy. No weird dog hair wang aftertaste which I dread and often get from a “hey babe let’s try this” grocery store wine (thanks Casemates for offering the good stuff).
Acidity level medium-low which complements all that noted above.
Not a complex/rich wine by any stretch and one that’s been well received by anybody we’ve shared it with. Starts nice and finishes nice. Very enjoyable.
Just a really clean, classy and well made drinker. Case price is a no-brainer if you need to restock a wine with these characteristics.
@pupator I don’t see this improving much with time. I have enjoyed one bottle and it is a light red, sort of like spicy Pinot. The wine has great food flexibility as you can pair it with more traditional white wine dishes. I’m glad I grabbed a case! In the name of science hold on to a few and see what develops.