We’d been making Chardonnay and Syrah from our estate vineyards and Zinfandel and Cabernet with fruit from our Dry Creek neighbors since we launched Amista in 2004. We made our first Rosé of Syrah in 2005. In 2007, our winemaker asked if he could have some of the rosé juice to make a sparkling wine in his winemaking class using the traditional Methode Champenoise. We said, “Sure, as long as we get to taste it!”
It was delicious, so in 2008 we decided to try making our own Sparkling Syrah. It was beautiful – a glittering raspberry color – and became an instant hit. I call it “joy in a bottle”.
It looks festive on a holiday table and pairs beautifully with a wide array of Thanksgiving dishes. Because it stays on the skins for several hours, it picks up some tannins making it a great match with everything from barbecue to spicy foods like Thai and Mexican. Like many of our unplanned discoveries, it launched a whole new adventure. I am delighted that we were the first to make sparkling wine in Dry Creek, especially since I love bubbles!
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I can trace it back to a time when we were captivated by a series of Ernest and Julio Gallo TV ads with lovely music (Hymne by Vangelis) with beautiful images of wine country landscapes, harvesting grapes, making wine, and friends and families enjoying life.
Not long after Mike saw an ad in a local newspaper for "backyard vineyards". He planted 150 Cabernet Sauvignon vines on the hillside of our home in Silicon Valley. Six months later he decided he needed to learn how to make wine and crushed 1/2 ton of Cabernet in our garage. I made sure I was never there to do the hard work!
Six months later I was offered a job in New Jersey. Sadly, we moved before harvesting a single grape from our new vineyard, but we took the barrel of wine with us. After a couple of years of aging, we tasted the wine with friends and it was great! Mike decided, "I'm a winemaker!" Who knew it would eventually draw us into the wine business where we would be making delicious Rhone reds and sparkling wines.
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