Rad Dad Wines: Father’s Day Selections from the USA

June 2016 Theise Tasting 50

Father’s Day is this Sunday, so we thought it would be great fun to celebrate some of our excellent domestic wines that are perfect fits for Father’s Day – wines that are made by fathers whose children are also involved in their family’s wineries. Happy Father’s Day! Enjoy!

CRISTOM, 2014 Estate Pinot Gris, Eola-Amity Hills, OR
Paul & Eileen Gerrie started Cristom Vineyards in 1992 and the winery is named after their children, Christine and Tom. Tom Gerrie is fully immersed in Cristom now, and he is training with lauded winemaker Steve Doerner (whose wife recently had their first child!) so that he can carry on the Cristom legacy for many years to come. The Estate Pinot Gris has been produced since 1996 after the first vines were planted to 200 million year-old marine sedimentary soil with a heavy clay layer. The wine was aged on its lees in stainless steel for six months before bottling.

David & Claire Ramey
David & Claire Ramey

RAMEY, 2013 Woolsey Road Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, CA
David Ramey welcomed his daughter Claire into the business in recent years and is very excited about the prospects of the winery’s long-term future. Woolsey Road is the newest single vineyard Chardonnay from Ramey, as the vineyard was re-planted in 2007 to David’s specifications by the Martinelli family who owns it. This cool site was planted with Old Wente cuttings taken from Ramey’s Chardonnay blocks in Platt Vineyard with low vigor rootstock and vines are spaced one meter by two meters. After pressing, native-yeast and full native malolactic fermentations take place in barrel, with sur lie bâtonnage. Aged for 18 months in 30% new François Frères oak barrels.

SIDEBAR CELLARS (by David Ramey), 2014 Red Field Blend, Russian River Valley, CA
Speaking of Claire Ramey, she joined forces with her father, David Ramey, to create Sidebar Cellars; an avenue to explore exciting new varieties from excellent vineyard sources in California. The Russian River Valley Red Field Blend is 78% Zinfandel, 11% Alicante, and 11% Petite Sirah from a heritage vineyard, half of which was planted 125 years ago and half planted 65 years ago. The grapes are co-fermented with native yeast and then barreled down to neutral oak barrels where they aged sur lie for seven months.

LANG & REED, 2013 Cabernet Franc, North Coast, CA
When John & Tracey Skupny decided to start a winery in 1996 with the goal of exploring the distinct charms of Cabernet Franc, they named it after their two children, Reed & Jerzy Lang. Their boys, as well as daughter-in-law Megan, are involved in the winery nowadays and they are also producing their best wines yet. The 2013 is 100% Cabernet Franc from Napa, Sonoma, and Lake Counties, aged in neutral French oak barrels for 8 months. The 2013 North Coast Cabernet Franc offers expressive aromas of raspberry and cherry kirsch, with highlights of dried herb and wet stone. Best when served with family and friends!

KEN WRIGHT, 2014 Latchkey Vineyard Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, OR
This new addition to the Ken Wright Pinot Noir portfolio is farmed by Ken’s son Cody Wright. Father & son are very excited to work together on this particular bottling. The 7 acre vineyard is situated at 500 feet on a southern aspect in the Dundee Hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Its rich, 100% Jory soils are famous for yielding fruit of remarkable depth and complexity.

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Mike & Andrew Januik

JANUIK, 2013 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, WA
The venerable Mike Januik and his son Andrew have been working together for a few years now, and Mike has trained Andrew as a winemaker himself. The Januik Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is boosted by the high pH found in the loam topsoil of Red Mountain, courtesy of the calcium carbonate deposits left by the ancient Spokane floods. After destemming and crushing, grapes were fermented on their skins for 7 days. At that point, the wine was pressed off and aged for 20 months in new French Oak barrels to improve its already lengthy finish. This wine is overflowing with cassis, ripe raspberries, and spice notes. 201 cases produced.

ANDREW JANUIK, 2013 Lady Hawk Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, WA
Speaking of Andrew Januik, he has taken the lessons from his father to heart and started his own label in addition to working at the Januik winery! Lady Hawk, owned and operated by Judy and Paul Champoux in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, is a very small parcel of land with less than 5 acres planted, all of which is Cabernet Sauvignon. This dark magenta wine’s nose is filled with beautiful bright notes of raspberry and mineral. The well-structured body is supple in the front and is brimming with cassis and spice box flavors throughout the palate. The long, textured finish is framed by strong tannins. Aged for 21 months in barrel, 55% new French oak. 242 cases produced.

ROBERT BIALE, 2014 Black Chicken Zinfandel, Napa Valley, CA
Bob Biale was born and raised in Napa and started driving a tractor at the age of seven (!) with his father Aldo. Founding partner Dave Pramuk and his daughter, Maggie, also work on the Biale team! Sourced from the same family vineyard that Aldo, Nonna, Bob, and the rest of the Biale family have farmed their whole lives, with additional grapes from a neighboring winery’s vineyard in the Oak Knoll District, Black Chicken stands as the ultimate expression of Zinfandel from the cool southern Napa Valley. Read more about the historical Black Chicken story here.