The Pleasures of America’s Oldest Vines
America may be a young country and our wine industry even younger, but there are old vineyards that produce seriously delicious wine. Seek them out writes sommelier Jordan Salcito.
California’s oldest vineyards hold some very deep secrets. A handful of parcels interspersed throughout the state have survived everything from Phylloxera and Prohibition to the Great Depression. In addition to producing great wines, these vineyards offer important insight into our collective national past.
A couple of years ago, while out to dinner with a friend, I drank a glass of Turley Wine Cellars “Bechtold Vineyard” Cinsault. She ordered it. I was skeptical. But that wine, a balanced blend of supple fruit, focused acidity and sweet spice, was my wake-up call. Some of California’s best wines these days are coming from these ancient vineyards. And the vineyards, which generate lower yields and are often expensive to farm, are at risk.
Few people are as well-informed about America’s viticulture history as Morgan Twain-Peterson. The proprietor of Bedrock Vineyards and a founding member of the Historic Vineyard Society Morgan has been making wine since age five (in its heyday, his Vino Bambino Pinot Noir graced lists at esteemed restaurants like Gramercy Tavern). He also has a history degree from Vassar College and a graduate degree in American Studies from Colombia. And he’s passed the notoriously difficult Master of Wine exam.