High on a mesa top in Santa Ynez Valley, various clones of Syrah ripen in the sun. They are planted on multiple varieties of rootstock, huddled close together in a high-density planting scheme. The microclimate here is unique – several degrees cooler than the neighboring town of Los Olivos.
It is here Zaca Mesa Winery has been experimenting with Syrah. With over 40 years of grape growing experience, Zaca Mesa began growing Rhône varieties in 1978 when they were the first to plant Syrah in Santa Barbara County. This early planting provided proof that their unique combination of topography, soils and distance from the ocean make it the perfect site to plant Syrah.
Since then, Zaca Mesa determined that varietals planted in the Rhône Valley of France are best suited to the estate and focused exclusively on varietals like Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Roussanne and Viognier.
“In 2004, we planted our first true high-density vineyard,” says Director of Vineyard & Winery Operations Eric Mohseni. “This new vineyard was planted to new Syrah clones and rootstock combinations for Zaca Mesa. The resulting wines had a different tannin and flavor profile. This was the birth of the Mesa Reserve.”
When those grapes were harvested, Eric was so excited about the purity of fruit, broad tannins, and complex aromas of the wine made from that block, he believed it merited a higher-tier “reserve level” Syrah. So he cherry-picked some of his favorite barrels from the 10 different sub-blocks to create this wine.
The 2012 Mesa Reserve Syrah comes from a year of near-perfect weather conditions in Santa Ynez Valley and represents the best of the winery’s mesa-top vineyard. “These younger blocks offer a great contrast to older Syrah vines on the property,” says Winemaker Kristin Bryden. “These new clones planted and grown with modern viticultural practices give the Mesa Reserve a brightness of fruit and complex richness that is unique when compared to our older blocks.”
“Our wines are made from sustainably-farmed grapes that are estate grown, produced and bottled in an old world style. But the Mesa Reserve is more of a 21st Century wine,” says Brand Ambassador Dane Campbell. “It’s the culmination of our 38 years of experimentation with Syrah, leading to a match of the correct clones and rootstocks to our specific vineyard site.”
The 2012 Mesa Reserve Syrah has continued the tradition of great accolades from Zaca Mesa Winery. Wine Enthusiast Magazine gushed over its red and purple fruits noting the wine’s complex lilac, violets, crushed rock and savory notes, giving the vintage a 91-point score in their October 2016 issue.
It’s available November 15 to purchase via wine club and through select restaurant and retail locations.
About Zaca Mesa
Zaca Mesa Winery, located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California, is dedicated to estate grown and bottled Rhône varietal wines. They craft wines with integrity using traditional methods from grapes sustainably grown in their Santa Barbara County vineyard. Since 1973, they have farmed and nurtured their vineyard to produce wines that are true to the unique spirit of their land. Still family-owned, Zaca Mesa brings old-world Syrah heritage to the Santa Ynez Valley. For more information about Zaca Mesa Winery call (805) 688-9339, or visit ZacaMesa.com.