Harrington Wines is a small producer hell bent on bringing to light the obscure, forgotten grapes of California as well as producing clean, stable wines made without sulfites.
The winery was started in 2002 to produce California Pinot Noir. Over the years, a great deal of energy has been spent researching, locating and working with some of California's long-forgotten Pinot Noir vineyards. Ultimately, the vineyard sites chosen are challenging viticulturally, either because of age, climate or terrain. Of these three criteria, older vineyards have become most valued as they have adapted to and been changed by their environs and produce subtle wines more deeply imbued with Pinot's characteristic flavors and aromatics.
Over the past decade, this search for older Pinot Noir vineyards has brought a keen awareness of the forgotten viticultural treasures of California. There are vineyards full of history and potential scattered throughout California and wonderful wines can be made from the rare grape varieties coming from locations other than Napa and Sonoma. So in 2008, the Pinot-only regimen was stretched to include a Nebbiolo from two vineyards located on the limestone ridges of westside Paso Robles.
As home to California’s highest altitude vineyards, El Dorado is also one of its oldest wine growing regions. When gold miners settled here in the late 1800s, many also planted vineyards and made wine to quench its local demand.
By 1870, El Dorado County, as part of the greater Sierra Foothills growing area, was among the largest wine producers in the state, behind only Los Angeles and Sonoma counties. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking and grape growing was totally abandoned. But some of these vines still exist today and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.
El Dorado has a diverse terrain with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 3,500 feet, creating countless mesoclimates for its vineyards. This diversity allows success with a wide range of grapes including whites like Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as for reds, Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo, Barbera and especially, Zinfandel.
Soils tend to be fine-grained volcanic rock, shale and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nights are cool and the area typically gets ample precipitation in the form or rain or snow in the winter.
Full of ripe fruit, and robust, earthy goodness, Mourvèdre is actually of Spanish provenance, where it still goes by the name Monastrell or Mataro. It is better associated however, with the Red Blends of the Rhône, namely Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Mourvèdre shines on its own in Bandol and is popular both as a single varietal wine in blends in the New World regions of Australia, California and Washington. Somm Secret—While Mourvèdre has been in California for many years, it didn’t gain momentum until the 1980s when a group of California winemakers inspired by the wines of the Rhône Valley finally began to renew a focus on it.