The Mathis Vineyard is 7.5 acres of glorious south facing slopes with low vigor volcanic soils – it’s heaven for red wine grapes. My neighbors fell to their knees in laughter when I planted it to my beloved Grenache – ha! --everyone thought I would plant Cabernet. But I was following the dream (cue theme from Sound of Music) that had been in my head since 1988. In what proved to be an exceptionally brutal winter, I cleared the land myself in '97/'98 and got to planting in ’99 and 2000.
Field Blend: I found the finest clones available (super small berries with great color and a more tannic spine than the typical Grenache found in the U.S) that had just been imported to the country. Rather than follow a recipe from 6000 miles away, I chose what I thought would make the best blenders based on my direct experience in California, adding Petite Sirah, Carignane and Alicante Bouschet in a field blend to add complexity and a spice factor.
When it’s picking time, I go by taste only, letting the numbers work themselves out in the winery. I walk the vineyard and mark out small areas that seem like they’ve hit peak flavor development, typically 1 to 3 tons worth at a time. The result is I pick over a few weeks, where most vineyards like this would be pulled off in one shot. It allows for perfect ripening and I think is an important aspect of the Mathis style.
After harvest, the grape leaves begin to turn fall colors. Here's a quick look at Mathis Vineyard as the seasons change: