Foley's two Syrah blocks lie on a sheltered, southeastern facing hillside at the base of the estate's western corridor. This site allows the grapes to reach complete maturity even in such a cool environment, and the climate's aridity allows harvest to be delayed well into November. The fruit is hand-picked, brought to the winery, de-stemmed and gently moved to small fermenting bins for maceration. During approximately two-week's maceration, the cap is punched down by hand three times daily. Upon completion of fermentation, the wine is pressed and transferred to 60-gallon French oak barrels of which roughly half are new. Following 14 to 18 months in cask the wine is racked, settled and bottled in mid-January.
Foley Estate's Rancho Santa Rosa Syrah is dark in color, with aromas of blueberry, cassis and black cherry intertwined with vibrant notes of white pepper, sage and vanilla in the bouquet. An immense, highly extracted wine, it is densely textured and full in body and structure. Firm tannins soften in the long finish.
Foley Estate Winery
Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery at Rancho Santa Rosa is the realization of vintner Bill Foley's dream to produce world class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County. A historic parcel located in the Santa Rita Hills region of the Santa Ynez Valley, Rancho Santa Rosa was formerly a thoroughbred horse ranch. In 1998, Bill purchased the 460-acre property and planted to 230 acres of vineyard. Devoted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, the vineyard has been subdivided into 59 micro-blocks with each being farmed, harvested and vinified separately. The handsome stables have been refurbished to house the winery, with tremendous detail going into the planning of a modern facility, while honoring age-old winemaking tradition. Highly regarded by leading wine critics and sommeliers, Foley’s Burgundian-influenced portfolio has become a flagship property in the South Central Coast.
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California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.