Ryan and Megan started Ryme Cellars in 2007 with one ton of Aglianico. Excited by the intensity and complexity of this wine, they embarked on producing intriguing wines of varieties that they personally enjoy. To date they make two Vermentinos, Ribolla Gialla, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Aglianico under Ryme. In 2011, Ryan and Megan wanted to expand their production to include some great Sonoma County vineyards that produce the type of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that they love to drink. For this task, they created a new label called Verse Wines, as a compliment to the more esoteric Ryme portfolio. With Ryme & Verse, Ryan and Megan aspire to make honest and expressive wines that exhibit the characteristics of the variety and place from which it came.
As one of Napa’s coolest sub-appellations, the area begs for diversity among its vineyards. Merlot and Chardonnay firmly compete with Cabernet Sauvignon for a place here. Some of Napa’s best Zinfandels also come from the Oak Knoll District.
Situated far in Napa’s southern end, Oak Knoll receives a strong cooling influence from both the San Pablo Bay and the Pacific Coast’s evening fog and breezes. Summer days are warm but on average ten degrees cooler than in St. Helena farther north up the valley; summer nights are chilly. A long growing season promotes for leisurely ripening of grape berries, resulting in an impressive balance of sugars, phenols and acidity.
Notable producers include Trefethen, one of the appellation’s oldest wineries, Robert Biale, legendary Zinfandel producer and Lewis Cellars, a family-run, hands-on establishment.
The exact origins of Ribolla Gialla remain unclear, though it most likely came to Friuli before the 1200s by way of Slovenia, where it goes by the moniker, Rebula. Blanketing vineyard hillsides along the Italian-Slovenian border, unconcerned about which side it is on, this pink-skinned variety creates a range of styles from the crisp, dry, still or sparkling whites to the charmingly ephemeral, skin-contact orange wines. Somm Secret—If you’re into orange wines, go visit Collio’s Oslavia and Slovenia’s Goriska Brda regions. They are so close you’ll hardly know you’ve gone from one to the other.