In 1993 Spring Mountain Vineyard faced the decision of what to plant on a small, terraced four-acre slope at Miravalle. This particular slope faces south with a small side slope of about ¾ acre with an eastern exposure. Its sunny location ranges between 400 to 1450 feet of elevation and faces across a canyon directly at the Newton Winery facility. The soils are old, weathered, and rocky.
These stressful soils and warm exposure seemed to be a particularly interesting place to see what Syrah might do in the Spring Mountain Appellation. The vineyard was planted, initially a three acre block, then expanded by about an acre with more Syrah. We also included a foundation block of various clones of both Syrah and other Rhone varieties in the planting.
Knowing red grapes on Spring Mountain produce big intense wines, we put in a few acres of Viognier...anticipating we might use the white Rhone variety in blending with the Syrah. The vineyard grew beautifully and we made our first vintage in 1995. It was spectacular. Since then, we have made a small bottling of Syrah each year, the 1997 being the first we released.
Winemaking is simple and protective. No air-rackings, no fining or filtration is needed, just extended barrel age with topping. If our small planting of Viognier has a crop, an iffy proposition, and if we determined the Syrah grapes will have huge color and tannin, we may included a small bit of the Viognier at the crusher to ferment with the Syrah.
Future production will range between 500 and 750 cases annually from this single vineyard block. Because of the small quantity of Syrah produced in the first two years and the untested nature of the vineyard; we bottled the first two vintages unlabeled and did not release them. When we decided to release the 1997, we thought it would be a shame if we did not offer to Syrah lovers the opportunity to see the evolution of the variety on this property on Spring Mountain.The first two vintages were made available in a special vertical selection with the 1997.