CA Gamay

Does anyone have experience with CA Gamay. I am intrigued.
Paul Mathew, Duxoup, J. Lohr, V. Sattui, Edmonds St. John. Who else makes it in Ca? I love this verital. Can anyone provide some insight? Also who is producing Valdgue?

The Edmunds St. John Gamays are lovely wines. They are certainly not Beaujolais (nor should they be), but they have that refreshing acidity and bright fruit that characterizes really good Beaujolais Villages (think Brun l’Ancien in terms of palate weight). Steve also makes a Gamay Rose that is a winner year in and year out.

Nearly all the Gamay in Calif is, in fact, Valdiguie…though it’s usually labeled as Gamay.
SteveEdmunds/EdmundsStJohn has people who have planted true GamayNoir a jus Blanc for him up in ElDoradyCnty.
It is easily the best around, as DavidB points out. Not Bojo, but darn good stuff. He calls it Bone-Jolly…a play on words.
DougTunnell/BrickHouse/OR also has true Gamay planted up there that’s pretty good.
But most of the stuff is Valdiguie…which sometimes can be rather pretty.

Rochioli used to do an Estate Grown Gamay although I do not recall having the opportunity to buy it going back many years. Thee bottles I did buy were delicious but are long since gone.


J. Lohr does a Valdiguie, not a Gamay, although I believe at one time it was called Gamay on the label. Nice quaffer for $10.

For Valdigue-- Vincent Arroyo does a Gamay (Valdiguie) blend, so does Sattui, and I think Topel

I had thought Paul Matthew out of Knight’s Valley was Valdiguie, but their site says Gamay Noir

I’ve never heard of Valdiguie.

How is it connected to Gamay? Where besides California is it found?

Valdiguie is permitted (so far) to be labelled Gamay Noir. They are completely different grapes. By way of illustration: Westwood winery used to make a wine they called Gamay, from Valdiguie grapes planted in the Apple Hill area in Placerville, at 2800 feet elevation. (the reasoning behind planting Valdiguie there is, perhaps, worthy of a lengthy dissertation, that has everything to do with the state of the industry in the early 1970s, and nothing to do with matching site to variety) These Valdiguie grapes never surpassed 20 Brix, even when left to hang into November… in a WARM YEAR! That’s because Valdiguie is a late ripener, and needs the same kind of heat that Mourvedre needs, possibly more.
I had true Gamay Noir planted for me in 2000, several miles east of where the above-mentioned Valdiguie was planted, at 3,400 feet elevation. Gamay is a very early variety, that requires a cool growing situation in order to ripen at reasonably low Brix. At the 3,400 foot site, we get Gamay beautifully ripe at between 20.5 and 22 Brix, in the first week of September.
The only previous intentional planting of true Gamay was undertaken by Charles Shaw, in St. Helena, back in the '70s. It became apparent pretty early on that Napa Valley is far too warm to produce wines typical of the best Gamay.

I think in “the old days” there was stuff called Gamay or Napa Gamay that maybe was more of a style as was Burgundy in Calif. In a lot of those old vyds ppl weren’t always sure what they had.

I heard that Rochioli still has Gamay planted and sells it all to V. Satui as they have for many years.

Up through the 04 vintage they bottled a Gamay and sold it in the tasting room. They very well may be selling it to Sattui currently. Now I am curious as to why they stopped bottling their own Gamay.


David, Tom; rest assured, it’s Valdiguie, NOT Gamay.

Thanks for the input. I was only going by what is printed on Rochioli’s vineyard map and by word of mouth from a friend who works there. So who else has true Gamay planted in CA? Anyone saying they have Gamay but it is really Valdiguie or Pinot Noir? Duxoup claims to have Gamay planted. Any insight?

Steve (or anyone else),

Any idea whether the Eola-Amity Hills ‘Celebration Gamay Noir’ from Evening Land is Gamay Noir or Valdiguie?


Bob; the Evening land is Gamay. Oregon’s had Gamay for some time.
David; Duxoup has Valdiguie.
Avanguardia had a small planting of Gamay in the foothills, but had some disease problems, and removed it. We have two plantings in the foothills: Witters, planted in 2000, at 3,400 feet, and Barsotti, on granite soil, at around 3,000 feet, planted in 2005. There is not, currently anyone else in California growing real Gamay, to my knowledge. I wish there was.

Thanks, Steve.

Steve, thanks for the detailed explanation.

So you’ve got the only true gamay in California?
For some reason that surprises me.

After tasting yours, I agree with your wish that there was more Gamay growing in California.

I remember Myron Redford (Amity Vineyards) planting Gamay 30 some years ago - I’ve had a few bottlings of it and thought is was wonderful -

Who else is playing with Gamay in Oregon?

Brick House, Willakenzie, Chehalem


Brickhouse, Amity, Artisanal, Hauer of the Dauen, Kelley Family Vineyards, La Bete, Lavelle Vineyards, Piluso, Willakenzie, Northwest Viticulture Center at Chemeketa Community College, list Gamay as one of their “top varietals.”