You can’t claim to make Rhône-style wines without at least one GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) in your portfolio. Well, The Withers has not one, but three, each highlighting one of those core ingredients. A traditional GSM will always have more Grenache than either of the other two varietals, though exact percentages will vary from vintner to vintner (based on yields, the grapes’ flavors, and the resulting wines of each varietal before blending). The reason it’s called GSM is because that’s the order, from highest to lowest, of percentages of each varietal. But every once in awhile, a winemaker will mix it up. Again, this could be because of the success of certain grapes (or lack of it) during harvest; it could be that once all the individual wines were created, they just blended better “out of order;” or it could be that the winemaker is looking for a specific flavor profile in the blend. And so, I present to you, The Withers “GMS”… (more…)
The Withers Winery: a story of passion, perseverance, and people
“I never wanted to own a winery,” says Andrew Tow, and yet he also claims The Withers Winery as a passion project 35 years in the making. It’s a process that, through a series of fortunate events, both chance and purposeful encounters, and good old-fashioned hard work, has evolved as organically as The Withers wines themselves.
If given the chance to taste a single vineyard bottling of Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir or Chardonnay — take it. Located just 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean along the Sonoma Coast, this 31-acre vineyard is one of the coolest grape-growing sites within the whole AVA. Sitting at about 800 feet in elevation on a south-facing slope, above morning fog level, the land receives maritime air from both the ocean and the Estero Americano — a “fjord-like” funnel that moves marine air through the Petaluma gap and toward the Sacramento delta. The result of this constantly cool climate: small crops with intense fruit flavors, strong levels of acidity, and lower sugar levels.
The vineyard itself is owned by Flanagan Wines, but they source out the fruit to other major players like Radio-Coteau, Littorai, and, of course Ramey.
I got married at Testarossa because, at the end of the day, they have amazing wines. Their specialties are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and the smoothness of the Pinot Noir coupled with the richness of their Chardonnays is enough for any bride to leave the alter for the tasting table. I’ve been an on-again, off-again club member for the past 4 years and have tasted almost all of their single-vineyard bottlings for each varietal. The winery sources from both the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Monterey AVAs from some of the most historically exclusive vineyards. That being said, their wines come at a (well-worth-it) cost. So I was surprised to find out that they actually have a, shall we say, more consumer-friendly option out there. Available at local grocery stores, this Testarossa Cuvée Chardonnay takes out a bit of the prim and poise while maintaining all the elegance in this well-balanced, easy drinker.
You may know the Balletto name well — it’s no stranger to the eye-level shelves at the local supermarket. But did you know that the Balletto family is a bit of a Sonoma success story? It all started when John Balletto left his budding college career behind to help his mother run the family’s 5-acre farm, following the unforeseen death of his uncle. Throughout the 80s and 90s, John focused on expanding the family business, purchasing additional parcels of land until the Balletto farm consisted of 700-plus acres planted to over 70 different vegetables. But when drought and other acts of nature threatened the farm, Balletto decided to focus his sights on grapes — a slightly less thirsty plant. Because of encouragement from friend and neighbor Warren Dutton (of Dutton-Goldfield Winery), the family already had 35 acres planted to vines and subsequently continued to convert all their vegetable-designated land to estate vineyards — primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.(more…)