LATimes: CentralCoast Grenache

Nice article in today’s LATimes by PatrickComiskey on CentralCoast Grenache. Nothing all that new, but some familar faces.


Thanks for posting this. For my money, the Central Coast leader in grenache is Beckman followed by Jaffurs. A new kid on the block literally is Whitcraft where Drake just made his first offering and it is very nice.

Lots of good Grenache out of the CentralCoast. I’m not so big on the Paso ones, but I like those from SantaBarbara and EdnaVlly.
I’ve always liked the Qupe Ibarra-Young one/StaYnezVlly. He has a new one from Sawyer LindquistVnyd/EdnaVlly that I think
is his best yet.
Tercero, Ojai, Ampelos, TablasCreek are a few more.
The Beckman is just a tasty/juicy kind of Grenache. I think the Jaffurs is a bit more ageible and structured.

Must be tough, Blake…having all these delicious wines right there in your back yard!!!
BTW: KSU Wildcat here. Kill SnobHill…we used to say. And we did…back in my day!!

I’ve had an excellent example from Odonata. SCMV, Martin Ranch and Sarah’s Vineyard have good ones too.

And don’t forget Kaena, Mikael Sigouin’s label. Mike makes some killer Grenache and Grenache blends under his label. Mikael is also the winemaker for Beckmen, with Steve Beckmen at the helm of Purisima Mountain Vineyard, one of the hottest vineyards in the CC IMO. They’re both doing incredible stuff up there.


Thanks for posting this - it was a sister article on grenache itself - not individual wines . . .

One thing Patrick said, and Jason Haas commented on, was the fact that Grenache does not make a good stand-alone wine - that it works best as a blend . . . After going to the Rhone Ranger seminar on Grenache, you know how I feel about this [soap.gif]

This is NOT to say that it does not work well in a blend - of course it does . . . but it CAN be done 100% and make a complete wine . . .

I agree with what others have said - Kaena, Beckmen, Qupe, and Kenneth Crawford lead the way for my $$$, followed by Ethan, Jaffurs (heck, I can’t say the guy’s the best at EVERYTHING, can I?!?!?!) and a few others . . .

I certainly am hopeful that the variety will catch on more - and I agree that there truly is no better place in the state right now for Grenache and grenache-based blends en masse as Santa Barbara County . . .


Not to drift to far here: born and raised a Jayhawk [in basketball]; my high school coaches in Topeka were All Americans from KSU and I grew to appreciate the Cats and their history. Not sure when your day was, but I was there in the 40s on until the 69` and both teams excelled at times. Interestingly, Missouri is considered a much more bitter rival than K-State in todays world. I always pull for the Big Xll team when the Hawks are not involved.
Cheers to what we have in common.


Missed you at the Futures tasting on Saturday . . .


Hi Larry, had a conflict with a friend`s wedding reception at the same time. Used to go every year until it moved away from the Wine Cask; have to get back involved.

I would add the following Paso-area producers to the list of those already mentioned who produce at least one Grenache-dominated bottling that is worth trying:

Graves Winegrowers
Villa Creek
McPrice Myers
Terry Hoage
Alta Maria (theirs may be the best CA Central Coast Grenache I’ve ever had … it literally left me speechless)

I’d add Hug Cellar’s new “el Maestro” bottling to that list too - it’s 80% Grenache, sourced from Cedar Lane Vineyard in Arroyo Seco and from Santa Barbara Highlands.

I have a question for the masses . . .

Why is it that with Pinot, if you blend ANYTHING else in, it’s blasphemy . . . but with Grenache, it’s ‘expected’?

I understand CdP tradition and all, but doesn’t anyone else wonder about this?


imo, you answered your own question; it’s all about expectations, and one’s experience(s) define(s) those expectations.

… regardless, I like Grenache by itself or with other grapes providing support! [berserker.gif]

Interesting point, Larry. I think a lot of it is that tradition. But there are certainly some great CdPs that are 100% Grenache. We tasted several vintages of one of those at one of the HdR seminars - the Tardieu-Laurent “Cuvée Spéciale”, from 80+ year old vines. And of course there’s Château Rayas. Plus a number of wines from Priorat and some from Australia. Maybe the distinction that makes these 100% Grenache wines special is the old vines?

I’ve had very few 100% Grenache wines from California. I suspect it needs the right circumstances (right vineyard, right clone, etc.) to make a “complete” wine on it’s own, from what I’ve tasted in California, but it would be nice to see more people give it a try. I don’t know of any Grenache vines in California that are anywhere near the age of the vines in some other parts of the world. Anyone know what are the oldest Grenache vines in California?

At Eno Wines, we’ve made Grenache for a number of years from Eaglepoint Ranch, but always blended in a little Syrah. The wines with a small amount of Syrah blended in always win out at the blending trials, although I remember with the '07 it was almost a toss-up as to whether we preferred the 100% Grenache or blending in a little Syrah. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I think we blended in around 3-4% Syrah that year.

It would be fun to get together a tasting of 100% Grenache wines sometime.

The one to one with Grenache and Pinot is not entirely accurate. Typically, Pinot makes a more balanced wine out of the gate, while grenache can be higher alcohol and low in acid. Grenache is often lacking in the mid-palate (like cab, hence the merlot/syrah relationship) and can be highly oxidative unless blended (which is why, I suspect, the tradition of blending grenache early and often arose). A happy grenache vine will yield 2-3x what a happy pinot vine will yield, with large berries and clusters, and many grenache plantings are workhorse plantings, intending to provide large quantities of base wine to work with. All pretty good reasons why grenache does not enjoy the same reputation, although it can be equally difficult to make well.
That said, there are areas where grenache excels and makes a lovely varietal wine. While I don’t know the Santa Barbara area intimately, given climate and soil types, there is no reason why it should not excel there. When I think of where grenache should be planted in California, Chalone immediately comes to mind. I think there are a few small plantings up there, though I have never seen the results.
The oldest grenache plantings I know of in California are from the 30s or 40s, grenache gris in McDowell Valley, grenache noir at George Bisson’s place west of Gilroy that used to provide the basis for the Cigare Volant. That super-old Zin vineyard (Buckhorn or something like that, I’d check the cellar but I gave the bottle I had away) has a few 100+ year grenache vines in it supposedly. I think there used to be some old vine, head trained stuff in Oakley, amid the matarro and carignane, though I don’t know if it survived suburbanization.
Count me in for the 100% grenache tasting.

Hmmm…so the names Del Lewis and RonParadis must ring a bell w/ you, Blake?? Bet you haven’t heard those names in awhile!! And right outside there in SilverLake…LonKruger.???
I was at KSU from 1960-1972. Big BB nut and gym rat. Knew most all those BB guys. And TexWinter & CottonFitzsimmons. Small world.

I do indeed know those names and have met Del and seen all 3 of them play and still follow Lon at UNLV. I go back to Jack Gardner and then Tex and Cotton and my heros were Clyde and BH and Wilt and on up and Phog who was a good friend of my father, the crib connection with KU for me.
BTW, I love the enthusiasm of the current K-State crowds; they compliment the conference with the passion.

David Corey at Core Wines is doing some nice stuff with grenache these days both blended and singularly and Ryan Carr produced an excellent grenache recently although his is definitely more on the richer and riper side.

Enjoying a nice Grenache when I opened this thread, but it is from RRV. [oops.gif]

That said, I’ll second T-Bone’s note and say that the '08 Kaena Larner Grenache was on my short list of favorite wines from the SB Futures tasting in LA last month. Also loved a Reserve Grenache that Beckmen had at Family Winemakers in Del Mar in Jan. Was in a decanter and not on the pour list, so don’t know the bottling and the situation at the tasting table didn’t give me the opportunity to ask. Love Larry’s blends, but somehow have not tasted his Camp4 or Watch Hill Grenache yet.



The best grenaches that I have ever had came from the Central Coast (and I drink a ton of CdPs). Of course both were SQNs, the Ode to E and the Into the Dark. And the Raven grenache last week didn’t suck either.