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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 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 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 enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in 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.