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HandCraft Petite Sirah 2011
As part of one of California’s oldest winemaking families, Cheryl has been in the wine industry since she was a little girl, doing odd jobs at the winery and in the vineyards with her siblings and cousins. Today, that group of hard working kids represents the current leadership of DFV Wines: the third generation of the family owned and operated vineyards and wineries.
Originally built on the hard work of patriarch Gasparé Indelicato, the company went from farming grapes to making its first vintage of wine in 1935 after Prohibition ended. “We have such a strong family tradition with wine, and that’s important to me,” Cheryl explains. “My grandfather, Gasparé, learned winemaking from his father. And my Dad and his brothers learned it from Gasparé. I knew I would work toward continuing that legacy.”
Although Cheryl grew up working at the winery, her parents insisted that all of “Generation Three” graduate from college and gather outside experience by working elsewhere for at least three years before coming back to the family business. Taking this sage advice, she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business in 1989 from California State University, Stanislaus and a Registered Nursing degree in 1985.
It did not take long for Cheryl to return to the winery. Launching her official career in 1990, she worked in various facets of the business; from sales and marketing to human resources to public relations and is now proprietor for HandCraft wines.
HandCraft wines provide Cheryl with the opportunity to recreate the fruit forward, delicious wines that she remembered on the family table when she was growing up. A dash of Italian varietals are added to the final wine blends and the result is simply delicious. It’s what makes HandCraft wines easy to enjoy, distinctive and memorable.
Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from tiny, family-owned boutiques to massive corporations, and price and production are equally varied—plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Valley area, while Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) and sub-AVA of has its own distinct personality, allowing California to produce wine of every fashion: from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate vineyard acreage. Sonoma County is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône Blends blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with cool climate varieties such as Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, any wine lover will find something to get excited about here.
With its deep color, rich texture, firm tannin, and bold flavors, there is nothing petite about Petite Sirah. The variety was originally known as Durif, but took on its more popular moniker when it was imported to California from France in 1884. Despite its origins, it has since become known as a quintessentially Californian grape. It has been commonly utilized as a blending partner for softer Zinfandel and other varieties, but has also found success as a single varietal wine. It is most commonly grown in Lodi and the Central Valley, and to an extent in Sonoma and Napa counties.
In the Glass
Petite Sirah wines are typically deep, dark, rich, and inky, with concentrated flavors of blueberry, plum, backberry, black pepper, sweet baking spice, leather, and cigar box, and chewy, chocolatey tannins. Notes of vanilla and coconut can be found in examples with significant amounts of new oak.
Petite Sirah’s full body and bold fruit make it an ideal match for barbecue, especially brisket with a slightly sweet sauce, and other rich meat dishes. The variety’s heavy tannins call for fatty protein and strong flavors that won’t get drowned out by the wine.
Don’t get Petite Sirah confused with Syrah—it is not, as the name might seem to imply, a smaller version of Syrah. It is, however, the offspring of Syrah (crossed with an obscure French variety called Peloursin), so the two grapes do share some characteristics despite being completely distinct varieties.