Raising the bar for Sonoma Syrah
on 21/11/11 at 7:14 amWine
Having produced the first harvest from his Sebastopol-based Baker Lane Vineyards back in 2004, winemaker and owner Stephen Singer now makes just 2,000 cases a year, split evenly between Syrah from his own property and Pinot Noir bought in from a neighbour so close “I can throw a stone into their vineyards.”
Although the Pinot Noir is a concession to Sonoma’s most prestigious grape variety, Singer remarked: “It was always my mission to make Syrah,” clarifying: “I have affection for Pinot Noir; I have passion for Syrah.”
While the concept of planting Syrah in Sonoma is hardly a new idea – as Singer remarked, “It’s not a niche variety; there are 1000s of acres planted in California” – he believes that the variety’s image still needs a boost.
“Syrah is such a charming grape that it was too readily over-planted in California,” he observed. “A proliferation of that and cheap, imported Syrah really cut the legs off high end Syrah.”
Part of the problem, Singer believes, stems from a misunderstanding of where the variety performs best. He explained: “Because Syrah is grown in Provence, people exported it to warmer parts of other regions, but warm in California is not the same as warm in France.”