TN: 2019 Holus Bolus Syrah (Sta. Rita Hills)

  • 2019 Black Sheep Finds Syrah Holus Bolus - USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills (5/13/2022)
    Explosive from the pop and pour. Deep black fruit, campfire, warm leather - it’s very Syrah. The density of fruit identifies it as Californian, but it never tips to the goopy or flat. The acids and tannins support and frame, creating balance. All that wine geek stuff aside, it’s just so damned delicious. Every sip makes me want another one. Whoops! All gone.

Posted from CellarTracker


p.s. $35 and worth way more than every penny

Not sure I had same vintage, but have had their Syrah. Loved it.

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We like these wines. Nice label too. I have a bottle of this 2019 waiting to try.

The single vineyard wines are more old-world styled in my experience. The regular one (this note) is just excellent CA Syrah.

Amy and Peter are fantastic winemakers - and even better people. When folks come to Los Olivos, I ALWAYS suggest stopping in to their place - they are almost always there themselves and are as engaging and interesting as their wines are.


Wasn’t Jim knight from the wine house involved in this project at one point?

Jim is involved with Jelly Roll wines. I’m pretty sure that Peter worked at the Wine House for quite some time but not sure if they were ever partners in this label or not.


Jim talked about it in this video he made with James suckling like 10 years ago. Apparently this is back before the super score inflation too because he’s only giving the wines 90-91 pts.

I believe that when Peter started, he made his wine in what was a ‘coop’ setting with Chad Melville (who started Samsara there but eventually sold it when he took over winemaking for his family’s Melville Winery), Sashi Moorman (a name that is probably familiar to many - was the winemaker at Stolpman for a long time; owns Piedrasassi and is a partner in Domaine de la Cote with Raj Parr IIRC) and Jim Knight. I do not believe that the other 3 are still partners with Peter.


I think that is an accurate depiction–the octopus on the Holus Bolus (HB) label represented the eight arms of the four winemakers. When the winemakers went their separate ways, Peter ended up keeping the HB brand.

The Holus Bolus Santa Rita Hills (SRH) Syrah has been a single vineyard wine at the least the last several vintages, coming from Sebastiano Vineyard, from blocks that were ‘annexed’ into SRH during the recent AVA expansion. It’s definitely more fruit driven than the vineyard designated Syrahs, though also has plenty of savory characteristics, especially olive.

The Franc de Pied Syrah is also Sebastiano, but tends to be more elegant and complex. I have no idea if it’s the rootstock or the sandy soils that enable own-rooted vines, but the difference is very real.

From talking to Peter when I picked up my recent shipment, I learned some of their standard bottlings will be absent in 2019 and 2020. Their 2019 Joy Fantastic Syrah is being held back since they are not happy with how it’s showing in bottle, while a fire in 2020 near Sebastiano Vineyard resulted in them not making their SRH or Franc de Pied Syrah in 2020.

They have already sold through their 2019 Presqu’ile Syrah, so be prepared for tight supplies on HB the next year or two. (Presqu’ile bottles their own estate Syrah, which mirrors the terroir driven character Peter+Amy bring out, so there’s a contingency for those who love the Solomon Hills Syrah terroir . . . .)

On the positive side, they are now sourcing from Bien Nacido, which is unarguably one of the great Syrah vineyards in the region. There’s a nice symmetry emerging, in that HB makes Syrah from the ‘deep end’ of both SRH (Joy Fantastic) and Santa Maria (Presqu’ile) and further inland in these appellations (Sebastiano and Bien Nacido, respectively). They are all cold to cool climate Syrahs, yet the terroir differences are shockingly massive.

As I have noted in prior posts, their Presqu’ile Syrah is my favorite. I have no frame of reference as to how it would compare to any specific N. Rhone Syrah, but it is a special wine grown in sandy soils, with unimpeded ocean influence and a long growing season. It seems highly unlikely any other Syrah in the world could present as this one does.


Interesting backstory. Thanks, Larry! I randomly won a Holus Bolus Syrah on WineBid several years ago and loved it. I never followed up to inquire about them or buy more for whatever reason though.

Amy’s video skits of classic tasting room interactions with customers are hilarious.

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We drank our bottle of the 2019 tonight. I found it a little more minerally and slightly leaner than previous vintages, a bit closer to old-world style. Really good. I’m looking forward to our bottle of Joy Fantastic.

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My favorite from HB is their Franc De Pied.
Just opened a 2017 and it was fabulous, easily the best Syrah I have experienced.
We are in Santa Ynez for the week and will going there on Wednesday.

Jim talked about it in this video he made with James suckling like 10 years ago. Apparently this is back before the super score inflation too because he’s only giving the wines 90-91 pts.

LOL we need someone to make an inflation-adjusted Suckling ratings chart.

?Super secret stuff?

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Agreed, that was my favorite of theirs as well, and I asked Peter if he wants to be in BerserkerDay but no reply! I think he’d do quite well. Love the Roussanne as well