“This effervescent dream benefits from being made using the Methode Champenoise, which is the process used to make fine French Champagne,” suggests a feature called Special Sips in the Scottsdale Airpark News.
If you happen to be in the Scottsdale airport, you might see Amista featured in this magazine. We are delighted to be included with so many other fine wines from Sonoma County along with a few from Napa Valley. Our Sparkling Grenache is described as an “effervescent dream” adding, “If nothing else, try this one for its nose, which is bursting with tangerine, grapefruit, and Meyer lemon.”
But what would be the point of just sniffing the wine when you can experience the joy of bubbles dancing on your tongue and treat your palate to the flavors of freshly picked strawberries?
At Amista we specialize in estate grown red Rhône varieties. We also specialize in making sparkling wines using the classic method used in Champagne. So, it’s no surprise that we love to make sparkling wines from our Rhône varieties. Winemaker Ashley Herzberg loves all bubbles – Champagnes, especially those made by small grower/producers, Crémants, Cava’s and sparkling wines made in the U.S. She had been making a sparkling rosé from another Rhône grape from our estate vineyards since she joined us in 2011. In 2013 she was ready to make another sparkling rosé and thought the Grenache grown on our estate Morningsong Vineyards would be perfect. She was right!
She harvested the grapes earlier than for the still Grenache to achieve the right balance of sugar, acid and flavors for a sparkling wine and left them on the skins for just a few hours to achieve a delicate pink color. She calls is “ballet slipper pink”. I will never forget experiencing this wine for the first time. We were in the cellar, and she took a small sample from the tank. The color was amazing, and yep, it was ballet slipper pink. Our first taste was before its secondary fermentation in the bottle, which is what produces the delicate bubbles. Even as a still wine it was beautiful on the palate.
It would be 18 months before we could taste the resulting sparkling wine. We feel in love. But we weren’t alone. Wine Business Monthly selected the inaugural release of our Sparkling Grenache and Amista as one of 10 Hot Brands in 2017.
"Sparkling wine isn't just for celebrations anymore. That's not to say we shouldn't be drinking sparkling on momentous occasions or for holidays - if you asked Vicky Farrow and Ashley Herzberg, we should be drinking it every day of the year. Maybe they're a little biased - they're in charge of the sparkling wine program at Amista Vineyards, tucked away along Sonoma County's famed Dry Creek Road - but it does sound like they're on to something big." says Wine Business Monthly.
We now have a collection of six sparkling wines with a seventh to debut in 2024 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Amista. Stay tuned!
Check out "Special Sips" in the Scottsdale Airpark Magazine.
“Last fall, Farrow launched Sparkling Discoveries, a website that showcases in-depth conversations with leaders in the sparkling wine world, as well as news, education and resources for all things sparkling wine,” writes Sarah Doyle in an article showcasing the launch of my new pet project.
As I told Sarah, when I pop a cork and the bubbles rise, I see the joy it brings people. It’s celebratory, but it’s more than that. It’s something you want to share. “That joy is what drove Farrow to launch Sparkling Discoveries, a website she had initially envisioned as a blog about her personal journey into wine. She quickly found she was more interested to hear others’ stories,” adds Doyle.
A friend recommended I interview people about how they got started in sparkling wine and the lessons they learned along the way. I loved the idea of sharing their stories, so a blog about my journey morphed into a new online platform called Sparkling Discoveries.
It’s no secret that I love bubbles! Not only do I enjoy sipping, discovering and sharing bubbles, I am lucky enough to find myself leading a winery that produces sparkling wines. Even more fun is that we experiment with non-traditional grape varieties and blends. When my husband Mike and I started Amista, we never envisioned that we would make sparkling wines.
Our first foray into bubbles came as a result of a class project by our consulting winemaker. He asked if he could have some of our Rosé of Syrah so his class could turn it into sparkling wine. We tasted the result and immediately decided we would make some ourselves. That was in 2008. In 2011, we added a sparkling Blanc de Blanc with the arrival of our new winemaker, Ashley Herzberg, who also loves bubbles.
Making sparkling wine added a whole new dimension to Amista and to our lives. We now make six different estate grown sparkling wines using the traditional method, the Methode Champenoise that is used to make fine French Champagne. We have a seventh scheduled for release in 2024. We were the first to produce a grower sparkling wine in Healdsburg, to offer a sparkling wine flight and a sparkling only wine club. By the way, we also have a collection of Rhône reds and white wines, meaning we have a little something for everyone.
I didn’t want to do the usual interview with the same old stale questions and rehearsed answers. I wanted to tell genuine stories from the thought leaders in sparkling wine – their hopes and dreams, their fears and failures. My previous career was focused on leadership – studying, coaching and helping develop leaders - and I am intrigued to uncover the experiences and lessons learned from remarkable leaders.
So, the blog is called Sparkling Conversations. I want it to feel like a conversation between friends rather than a formal interview. My goal is for the readers to discover something they wouldn’t have guessed or known about the person; to go deeper; to focus less on “the what” and more on “the why” and the “so what”; to uncover the life and leadership lessons from people who are making a difference in the world of sparkling wine.
Sparkling Discoveries combines two of my great joys – discovery and sparkling wine. When you’re doing something you love, it isn’t work. As I explained to Sarah, my dream is that the platform will foster a sense of connection among sparkling winemakers and enthusiasts and celebrate “the magic behind the sparkle.”
Read “Profiles in wine: Vicky Farrow launches Sparkling Discoveries, online community for sparkling wine lovers” by Sarah Doyle in the Press Democrat.
The very first sparkling wine we made was from a Rhône grape – a Sparkling Syrah – and we’ve been making it since 2008. Technically it is a rosé of Syrah because it spends only a few hours on the skins before being pressed off. It is a gorgeous cranberry color. It’s festive. It shimmers in the glass. I call it ‘joy in a bottle’.
But Winemaker Ashley Herzberg wasn't so sure. She received two bottles as a gift from my husband Mike before she became our winemaker. She stuck it in her closet thinking it would be icky and sweet. One night she pulled it out to serve to her girlfriends - a good way to get rid of it. They immediately started raving about it, so she took a taste. She became a convert and has been making and sipping “joy" ever since.
Our current release has aromas of black cherry, roasted strawberries and cream, toasted almonds and a hint of ruby red grapefruit zest. The front palate is bright and filled with berry notes. The finish has great acidity and balance with a slight savory character that makes it deliciously food friendly. The finish is beautiful and lingering.
One thing we’ve learned about Rhône-style wines is that they pair beautifully with a wide array of foods. The Sparkling Syrah is a perfect example. It is especially at its best with spicy foods, from Thai, to Indian to Mexican. It is also right at home on a holiday table because it has enough body to stand up to the vast assortment of flavors that are part of the feast and provides a refreshing counterpoint to the rich dishes that are typical of holiday celebrations.
Winemaker Ashley says the most interesting pairing she has had with a sparkling wine was the Sparkling Syrah with Peking duck roasted in a wood burning oven. “I was surprised because I don't love duck. It's not my cup of tea, but the Sparkling Syrah cut through the richness of the duck and just sort of brought it to another level and I was like, oh, duck needs something acidic to brighten the flavors,” explained Ashley.
Syrah was among the first wines we made when we launched Amista Vineyards. It has always played a big role in our wine program. We planted Syrah on our estate Morningsong Vineyards in 2000, and although we didn’t have much experience drinking Syrah, we quickly fell in love. It is a very drinkable wine without the heavy tannins of a Cabernet or the big jammy flavors or a Zin.
In 2011 we added two more Rhône varietals to our estate vineyards, Grenache and Mourvèdre. That enabled us to produce a Grenache, a Mourvèdre and a Rhône-style blend we called Tres, to stand beside our flagship Syrah. Tres was our first blend and it quickly became my husband Mike’s favorite, and my second favorite after anything sparkling! Tres is the wine I would take to a dinner party knowing that it would please any palate and drink well with nearly any dish.
So, you can see that we came to plant, make and love red Rhône varietals. But winemaker Ashley and I love bubbles and she wanted to make sparkling wine from the Grenache. I was all in! I can still remember the first taste of the still Grenache rosé that would eventually become a sparkling wine. Ashley took it right from the tank and the wine was gorgeous in the glass – a pink blush color – and even more gorgeous to taste. We both knew immediately that this would be an incredible sparkling wine. Wine Business Monthly agreed, selecting it as one of 10 Hot Brands the year it debuted.
Today we have five sparkling wines made in whole or in part from Rhône varieties. In addition to our Sparkling Syrah, which has become a cult favorite, and our Sparkling Grenache, which sells out every year, we have Sparkling Mataró (made from 100% Mourvèdre grapes), Sparkling Tres (a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre) and Fusión (a blend of Chardonnay – which is not a Rhône grape – with Syrah and Grenache).
Treat yourself and explore our Rhône-style sparkling wines.
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