We were introduced to Guenoc at a party in Chicago a few years ago. For the money, I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s a better wine from California. This is particularly true of the vineyardâ€™s Petite Sirah.
Guenocâ€™s commitment to Petite Sirah reflects the vineyardâ€™s resources, yet it also demonstrates the wineryâ€™s willingness to do things a little different. Guenoc could have converted its Petite Sirah and Sauvignon Blanc vineyards to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay years ago, but the winery believed strongly in the future of these varietals and in their ability to set new standards for quality and character when grown in Guenoc Valley and Lake County.
Guenoc is one of Californias leading producers of Petite Sirah in both volume and quality. Guenocs primary source of Petite Sirah is the Serpentine Meadow Vineyard at the winery estate in Guenoc Valley. Planted in 1980, these low-yielding Petite Sirah vines grow in sandy loam soils, which have a notable magnesium influence due to the blueish serpentine soils from the surrounding hills. Though seemingly insignificant, this trace magnesium has a profound affect on the Guenoc Petite Sirah, as it limits vine vigor and crop levels, which in turn tones down the aggressive flavors in the wine. As a varietal, Petite Sirah has a reputation for being overly tannic and aggressive, but at Guenoc, the combination of the distinctive Serpentine Meadow soils and winemaker skills result in a Petite Sirah that is soft and round with bright, berry fruitinessa tribute to what the varietal can achieve. Guenoc makes three Petite Sirahs: an estate series, a reserve from the Serpentine Meadow Vineyard and a Port.
Guenoc is no Johnny-come-lately to the wine biz. The winery dates back to 1854 when wine grapes were first planted in the Guenoc Valley. Victorian actress Lillie Langtry, a colorful theater star in Europe and America, owned the property from 1888 to 1906 and made wine which she claimed would be the greatest claret in the country. Her face graces many of the estateâ€™s bottles today.