The 2004 harvest was the first vintage released by entrepreneur Kevin Harvey’s Rhys Vineyards (pronounced REESE), one of the bright new stars of California winemaking today. Javier Tapia is the winery’s vineyard manager, Jeff Brinkman its winemaker and manager of its impressive underground cave. Our tasting with Brinkman, one of the most thoughtful winemakers we interacted with as we put together this guide, was as thrilling as it was fascinating.
When Harvey was scouting out locations to plant his vineyards and build his winery, he realized that the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is one of the few places in California where ancient seabed has been pushed to the surface by seismic activity. Skyline Ridge, which runs through the heart of the appellation, runs almost perfectly parallel to the San Andreas fault. The combination of ancient subsoils and high elevation make this area one of the best places in the state to grow “old world,” terroir-driven wines. All of the winery’s roughly 100 acres, including vineyards in Anderson Valley and Mendocino, are farmed biodynamically.
Rhys Vineyards’ Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were without a doubt some of the most compelling that our panel tasted. And while there is a “red thread” of vibrant acidity and restrained alcohol that speak to the winery’s philosophy and approach, each vineyard expression is wholly distinct. Along the way, they have created a sui generis style that makes their wines stand out among their peers. Stand-outs among these truly outstanding and original wines: The Bearwallow Vineyard Chardonnay 2014; the Alpine Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (GREAT WINE); the Skyline Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014; and the Horseshoe Vineyard Pinot 2014.
TASTING ROOM n/a.
MAILING LIST Currently open.
SALES Website and national distribution.
WINERY TOURS n/a.
PRIVATE EVENTS n/a.
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Images via rhysvineyards.com