What: 2017 Merisi Petite Sirah, Diener Ranch, Lake County
Where: With a rich family history tracing back to the 19th century, Diener Ranch is a prime site for Petite Sirah. Located in the Red Hills sub-appellation of Lake County, the vineyard is perched at an elevation of 1,700 feet and is subject to hot days and cool nights.
Who: Mandy Donovan started Merisi in 2013, while she was working as assistant winemaker at Cain Vineyard and Winery. “I said that I would never start my own brand,” she says. “Famous
When she was offered some quality fruit, she decided to start experimenting. With an aim of “passionate realism” in the cellar, Mandi named her label Merisi after the artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. She writes, “His pursuit of authenticity and distinctiveness from his peers became our [winery’s] beacon of truth telling and excellence.”
Why: Let’s face it, Petite Sirah just doesn’t get enough love. This one was naturally fermented with minimal intervention and aged for 21 months in 50 % new oak. Says Mandy:
“I wanted to work with Petite Sirah specifically because it is a personal favorite. It really is the closest thing California has to a heritage varietal (and then maybe Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc). I also think many people who think they like young, big Cabernets would really go for Petite Sirahs—they just haven’t tried them yet!”
On the direction of her microwinery:
“After eight harvests, we are about 1000 cases strong. In the next three
years, I see Merisi maintaining this size and hope to grow into even
more wine markets.”
We’ll be cheering for you, Mandy!