Desire Lines Spring 2023 release

I put in my first order yesterday.

The Wines

2021 Winds of Change Syrah
Leading the charge for us this release is the 2021 rendition of our noble cellar defender and fan-favorite, Winds of Change Syrah. The past two vintages of Winds of Change were Rhône blends headlined by Syrah, but in 2021 we had such great Syrah blending components that we decided to leave the wine as Syrah alone. I adore Syrah, and think it’s a fabulous grape for California across much of state, evidenced by the fact that we launched Desire Lines in the first place to make Syrah (from Griffin’s Lair and Eaglepoint Ranch, and later Shake Ridge Ranch). I love that the grape manages to absorb the beautiful California sunshine without losing its trademark floral and savory notes, and that it does so in distinct ways all along the windy California coast, from the brackish, red-fruited and nervy Syrahs of Santa Barbara County to the dense and mineral expressions from the coastal mountains of the North Coast. The wine is our ode to California’s cool and windy places, told through the lens of Syrah, and captures so many wonderful journeys in one bottle.

We’ve lovingly referred to this as our “back the truck up” wine, and we’ve been absolutely thrilled to see what folks have been saying about previous vintages of Winds of Change on CellarTracker:

“Stupefying value.”

“Like the 2019, this is absurdly good. This is both more immediately delicious and ageworthy than much of what comes out of Napa at the $100 price point.”

“This is absolutely delicious again and still the best QPR I know in California.”

“Amazing value! Will become a regular in my cellar!”

“This wine is an incredible value, I should have bought more than 3… A young wine with great structure and age-able…if I hide them from myself. Wow.”

Like our 2020 Winds of Change Red Wine, the 2021 Syrah includes a good chunk from Santa Barbara County – 68% to be exact, with the remainder coming more locally from the North Coast. A couple of lots included Viognier as a conferment, for an average of just under one percent Viognier within the blend. All lots were fermented with some whole cluster inclusion, and the wines were raised almost exclusively in 500L barrels without racking. No new oak barrels were used. All said, I’m just so happy with this wine – it’s a pleasure to make and an absolute joy to drink.

2021 Wiley Vineyard Riesling

Wiley Vineyard, in the deep end of Anderson Valley, has perhaps my favorite driveway of all our vineyards. You turn left off Highway 128 just before you get to the gate to Bearwallow Vineyard across the road (and before you get to Kiser and Wendling vineyards), and after unlatching the gate you wind slowly uphill through a thick forest of Douglas firs and redwoods. The top of the ridgeline stands a few hundred feet above the highway below, and after unlatching a second gate at the top of the ridge, you come upon the vineyard on a gently south-facing exposition, with a beautiful view all the way back down Anderson Valley and to the top of Signal Ridge to the south.

Sometimes it’s sunny, but as often as not the marine layer sits thick on the vineyard, especially in the morning or late afternoon in the summer. The moderating influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean, which is less than 10 miles away, keeps temperatures in a narrow band at Wiley Vineyard: rarely below 40F or above 80F. By contrast, Cole Ranch is both colder (in the winter and at night) and warmer (during the day), which helps to explain the distinct personalities of our two old-vine Mendocino Riesling vineyards.

Our 2021 Wiley Vineyard Riesling was whole-cluster pressed and fermented in tank at cool-ish temperatures (60-64F). After fermentation, the wine was racked with its lees to neutral 320L large format barrels for élevage and wasn’t racked again until bottling in July. With 8 grams RS, a TA of 8.0 (!), and a pH of 3.02, the wine is lushly rich yet racy and vibrant, with a crisp saline finish. I’m in love with this wine – the nose is super expressive (lime, jasmine, green apple, and orange blossom) and the palate melds perfectly ripe fruit with zesty acidity and a wet-stone minerality that I find so compelling and refreshing.

2020 Wiley Vineyard Riesling Spätlese
There’s not a lot of this to go around, so I’ll keep this short. In 2020 we made just a single barrel of a Spätlese-style Riesling from Wiley Vineyard, with a residual sugar of 53 g/L. It’s one of the rare examples of a Spätlese Riesling that I know of in recent California Riesling history, and I think the wine is positively radiant. So much so that we’re holding back half of the wine for our own library, to drink with our children for many years to come (sorry!). We’ve had this open for a week in the fridge and the wine barely budged, and given the mysterious ability of sweet wines to resist oxidation, I expect this to have a lengthy and noble life in bottle.

“The 2020 Riesling Wiley Vineyard Experimental Series No. 8 At First Sight is stunning. Rich, layered, and super-expressive, the 2020 is a total knock-out. It’s done in a richer style than the straight Wiley, with more residual sugar, an approach that works especially well. This is another of the most memorable wines I have tasted so far from 2020. Terrific.”

“The enticing aromas of apricot and orange blossom pull you into this succulent off-dry riesling that is very clean and precise on the medium-bodied palate. Long, juicy finish with mountain-stream freshness. Very limited production. Drink or hold.”

2021 Cachagua Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmel Valley

Our 2021 Cachagua Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Joullian Vineyard in Carmel Valley. Joullian Vineyard is planted next door to Massa Vineyard (the two vineyards share a property line), and armed with the promise of Riesling from Massa in 2021, we knew that we wanted to take a shot at Cabernet from the area too without going full-splurge for the old Cab vines at Massa. (Spoiler alert: we took on Cab fruit from the 1972-planted vines at Massa starting in 2022, along with the Riesling, and the wines are magnificent!)

Much of what I wrote about Massa Vineyard and Carmel Valley in our last release is true of Joullian Vineyard as well: both are remarkable sites – epic, and epically remote. Joullian Vineyard is set on the northern edge of Big Sur’s Ventana Wilderness; the road to the vineyard from the town of Carmel Valley is short, very steep, and absurdly twisty. Driving five tons of fruit out from the vineyard isn’t for the faint of heart. To the south of Joullian Vineyard, there’s nothing but miles and miles of Bureau of Land Management land and the remote mountain peaks of interior Big Sur. To the north, the vineyard’s most conspicuous neighbor is the Jamesburg Earth Station, a now defunct but massive satellite dish that once relayed worldwide footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The satellite dish was built where it is, in the remote and wild Cachagua Valley, because radio interference is minimal – even radio signals have a hard time penetrating the valley.

The vines at Joullian Vineyard sit directly on the Cachagua Fault and are rooted in an unusual mix of granitic and metasedimentary rocks. I say unusual because granitic soils in California vineyards are relatively rare. While the granitic plutons that form the core of the Sierra Nevada are famous, there isn’t much granite to speak of in most Sierra Foothills vineyards, and none at all in the North Bay. The granodiorite and quartz monzonite that underlay the vineyard come from the southern Sierra Nevada, thanks to the transform faulting action of the San Andreas Fault and the displacement of the Salinian Block.

We’ve named this wine “Cachagua Ridge” as an ode to the place – the vineyard is planted on a ridge above the Cachagua Valley, below the towering peaks of the Ventana Wilderness. “Cachagua” is purported to mean “hidden waters”, a nod to the underground springs that flow down from the Santa Lucia Mountains all along the length of the valley. The wine was fully destemmed; fermented and left on skins for 30 days; racked once over the course of a fifteen-month élevage; and raised in a mix of 225L and 500L barrels with 40% new oak included (Taransaud’s Grande Chauffe toast). I love the balance of savory and fruit-sweet elements within this wine, and I’m kind of astounded by the density and ripeness the wine possesses at just 13.4% alcohol. I think the wine is drinking exceptionally well right now, and I expect it to age beautifully – a perfect cellar defender Cabernet from one of my new favorite wine regions.

2019 Belle Mount Syrah, Bennett Valley

The name of this cuvée is a deep cut – Belle Mount was the name given to the first vineyard and winery established in Bennett Valley, by Isaac DeTurk in 1862. The name is thought to refer to the striking peak of Bennett Mountain that juts above Bennett Valley. DeTurk served on the California Board of State Viticultural Commissioners as the first commissioner for the Sonoma District. Having made just 160 gallons of wine in 1862 from the first 25-acre planting, DeTurk quickly planted more vineyards and built larger wineries – by the late 1890s his Belle Mount wines were sold to retailers throughout the country, including Boston and New York. For a short time, his was the largest winery in the state of California (which was producing a million gallons of wine a year!).

This wine comes from a block that I’d long had my eye on, and I was thrilled in 2019 to finally get access to the fruit. We used to drive through Bennett Valley frequently when we lived in the mountains outside Glen Ellen, and I would weekly stare uphill at one block that was especially steep and daunting. It’s one of the highest vineyards in Bennett Valley, near to the Crane Canyon Gap that cools the valley, and the vines are planted in the most meager of topsoil. At certain spots in the block, you’re walking literally on bedrock (extrusive volcanics). It’s a pain in the neck to sample– even when I’m in Dipsea shape, I’m huffing and puffing by the time I get back to the top of the block.

Sensing that we had something special in the grapes from this vineyard, we made a particularly rigorous wine – 100% whole cluster with extended maceration and élevage in a single neutral 500L barrel without racking. This wine rivals our Syrahs from Griffin’s Lair for its intensity and concentration, though a touch more reserved at this stage. It’s a thoroughly classical wine inspired by the old-school Côte-Rôtie that I love (Levet, anyone?), with aromatics of boysenberry, raspberry, violets, and bacon that are just beginning to unlock and soar from the glass. We’d recommend a long decant and a side of fatty steak, or more time sideways in bottle. This will be our last wine released from the 2019 vintage – we held this wine back in bottle for longer than usual, and I’m really excited about where this wine is headed.


I’m glad you posted this, Michael!
Last night when I logged onto their website I was surprised not to find the Winds of Change Red Wine- which I ordered last year and the 5 bottles lasted barely longer than Liz Truss! I saw the Winds of Change Syrah, but wasn’t sure if this was a replacement wine or what.
The email text you posted has more info than their website’s wine description. The Winds of Change Syrah is this year’s version of that wine!
Now I’m trying to decide if I’ll order 12 bottles to get the free illustration label art print…


Put in my mixed case order yesterday, heavy on the Winds of Change.

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I ended up with 15 bottles, heavy on Winds of Change which is my current favorite QPR in California, but also the new cab/syrah based on Cody’s history and style with those grapes, as well as two of the Spätlese riesling, because why not. Happy to continue to support this work


I put in a small order for 3 of the winds of change. Wanted to go bigger but with bedrock coming up I need to watch my budget. Really excited to try their wine though. Seem like great people.

The Bedrock release was my hesitancy as well, so I only went for 6 bottles - Winds and Cab.
My brother has bought previous releases and loved them.

Went with a 6 pack. 2 each of Winds of Change, Wiley Riesling, and Bennett Valley Syrah

Ordered both Rieslings … Desire Lines is a must buy for me.

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Ordered a mix case as well! Hard to beat for the price!

I also got a mixed case of ~20 bottles, as I recall. This will be my third order from them, I believe. Good stuff!


I got a mixed case, plus 3 more wishlist of the Spatlese (fingers crossed!). These are always consistently the best QPR wines I have. I’m excited to see what they do with cab.


Went in for a mixed case of Winds of Change and Reisling.

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