I used to live on warm Springs Road in Glen Ellen and one of my favorite walks was to go up Lawndale Road in Kenwood into a little Valley where the road narrowed to one lane as it went through the old Rossi Ranch. It was a fabulous vineyard, originally planted in 1910 by the Rossi Family and it contained an incredible collection of old vines of various varieties which at first glance appeared to be haphazardly intermixed. I once asked Val Rossi, then in his eighties, why there were table grapes and I was surprised to hear that his father had planted them for the pickers to eat! I just loved those old vines, pruned almost as bonsai trees (bush vines as we would say in Australia) and while it needed some replanting and upkeep, I often thought about the wines that they made.
The vineyard was purchased following Val’s death and while some of those old vines were retained, much has been replanted with the utmost attention to detail and with a commitment to quality and for farming organically. My friend, Greg Adams, was intimately involved with the replanting and was the facilitator to me getting some of these grapes in 2009. While there are many blocks and many varieties (focused on Zinfandel and the Rhone varieties), I have been getting Zinfandel several different blocks and Syrah from hillside blocks on the red soils that face out to the west. The Zinfandel comes in early, but the Syrah is a much later ripening site that is picked in mid to late October. My Syrah blocks are planted with the “Alban Powerblock” selection that seems to have small bunches that have very few “wings”, which makes farming easier as we normally remove these side bunches as they ripen later than the main bunch. This vineyard gives me some of the smallest Syrah berries that I’ve seen and the wine is very intense. The wines from this site have historically shown great color and are powerful with great acid and tannin to match intense fruit. My first wines are certainly in this style, big wines that should age particularly well. Phil Coturri from enterprise Vineyard Management took over the management in 2013 and his organic practices have really consolidated the potential this site has always shown.