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Ledge Catacombs White Blend 2012
Heading back to Paso might always have been in the back of Adams' mind, but he started out on a very different path. An Americana musician, he was living in Los Angeles and working as a sound effects editor at Sony when the opportunity arose to farm his parents' land. To get some experience, he turned to childhood pal Justin Smith, a well-respected winemaker and vineyard consultant, who gave him a job working at Saxum and its James Berry Vineyard just a mile from his land.
In 2005, Adams, his wife, Ciera, and a bunch of college friends collected cuttings and planted them on their own roots on his parents' land - mostly sand and clay. The grapes were primarily Syrah, with just a touch of Grenache and Mourvedre.
"We had no certified rootstock; we didn't have a budget, crews or infrastructure," he recalls. "It was a wild, ill-advised ride for sure."
Fortunately, they lucked out with a winter deluge, and his 5 acres of planted land began to take off. Ultimately, Adams says he'd like to have about 35 acres in vine. Now in his third year of production, Adams recently released 150 cases of the 2011 Adams Ranch Vineyard Syrah. Two hundred cases of the 2012 will be bottled this year, and the 2013 vintage should double that.
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 incredibly wide-ranging selection of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from boutique to massive corporations, and price and quality are equally varied—plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Coast area, while Napa is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Just about every style of wine you can imagine is made in California, from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. Each AVA and sub-AVA has its own distinct personality. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux varieties dominate, as well as Sauvignon Blanc. Sonoma County is best known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with Alsatian varieties such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, it is certain that any wine lover will find something to get excited about.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.