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McDowell Valley, a Chance Discovery

“The climate of the valley is delightful, being almost that happy mean where summer’s heat and winter’s cold are unknown. It’s certain that the extremes of temperatures are not found here. The summer’s sun is robbed of its fierceness by a gentle bracing breeze that always finds its way up the river from the ocean, making the days very mild and even in temperature. The fogs that infest the coast do not reach this valley often. To sum the matter up in a few words, the climate is all that can be desired.”

Lyman Palmer, ‘History of Mendocino County’, 1880

Hidden within the rugged Mayacamas Mountain range of southeastern Mendocino County, McDowell Valley sits atop a sloped benchland at 1,000ft above sea level, entirely enclosed by steep cliffs, and cut through on its western flank by the Russian River. In springtime, the mountains provide warmth and reprieve from early frost, and in the hot summer months, they create a deep, round ‘cold-sink’ that provides the tiny valley with significantly cooler nights than the surrounding area. Here, nestled in the mountains, you’ll find the towering ancient vines of McDowell Valley’s famed Gibson Block. Planted in multiple rounds dating back to the 1880s, these dry-farmed vines are known to be among the oldest in the western world, and have continually produced ethereal wines for nearly a century and a half. 

STRIKING OUT, AND A CHANCE DISCOVERY

McDowell Valley’s story is one of chance and luck. Like so many others of the time, Paxton McDowell came to California in the mid-1800s with hopes of gold—and just like so many others before and after, the quick fortunes of precious metal eluded him. A farmer in his previous life, McDowell set out on foot looking for farmland to homestead. When he came upon the town of Hopland, he met Fernando Feliz, who at the time owned most of the area from an old Spanish land grant. In 1852, with a sturdy handshake, the two struck a deal whereby Paxton McDowell would pay 1,200 gold pieces for a section of land defined by how big of a loop he could ride his horse in one days’ time. 

It was McDowell’s descendants however, the Buckman family, that first began cultivating wine grapes in the area; planting Syrah, Grenache, Carignane, and Petite Sirah beginning in the 1880s. Alfred Buckman, born 1899, recalls the early years of wine growing in a 1980 interview, “At harvest time, the wineries would come and test the sugar and tell us when to pick—they wouldn’t take grapes lower than 23 Brix. The Native Americans from the adjoining rancheria would join our family and neighbors and assist with the picking, where we’d earn 5 to 10 cents per 50lb box of grapes. The boxes were hauled by a four-horse team and wagon to the railhead in Hopland where they were shipped down to Asti.”

Buckman recalled life during harvest fondly, working daily from “when we got up with the lantern, and ending when we went to bed with the lantern. On Saturday nights we were too tired to do anything but fall into bed. The vineyards were cultivated by horse and plow, sulfuring was done by hand with gunnysacks, and as for frost protection… we prayed a lot.” Buckman continued, “nothing else does too well in McDowell Valley but wine grapes, and they’re the best in the whole darn country.” For decades into the early 1900s, the vineyard thrived and was a prized source of grapes for many of California’s top winemakers. 

ENTER THE CRAWFORDS

At the turn of the century, McDowell Valley was a bustling tourist destination, hailed for its breathtaking scenery, and sought after by the masses for its incredible air quality. A redwood resort hotel opened on the east side of the property near the natural soda water spring in McDowell Creek, and at the height of its popularity, the resort saw thousands of visitors every year—the roads into McDowell Valley constantly busy with freight and passenger wagons traversing from Lake County and Mendocino. To many in California and beyond, this little valley was paradise.

Then came the Great Depression, Prohibition, the second World War, and the eventual collapse of the American wine industry. The resort closed and was dismantled, the travelers stopped coming, and McDowell Valley faded out of time and memory, once again reclaimed by the rugged mountain wilderness. 

Chance and luck. In the 1960s William and Karen Crawford often piloted their private plane over McDowell Valley as they were coming and going from family-owned timber mills and cattle ranches—always marveling at the wild beauty of the area as they flew overhead. With the timber and livestock industries entering a tumultuous period, the Crawfords began looking for ways to diversify, and a surging Californian wine industry caught their attention. By 1970 the Crawfords had purchased a majority of the valley and aptly named their new venture ‘McDowell Valley Vineyards’. 

Tragically, William Crawford died a year later while piloting his plane over the northern California mountains. Karen Crawford kept the dream alive, however, remarrying to Richard Keehn and working tirelessly to establish McDowell Valley Vineyards as one of the top wine grape producers in Mendocino County. In 1979 the couple established the winemaking side of their business—making history as the world’s first solar integrated winery by utilizing state-of-the-art passive and active solar technology to conserve energy and water—the blazing sun logo on their wine label commemorating the significance. The inaugural bottling in 1980 of their star varietal, Syrah, was met with instant critical success, winning 6 gold medals in 8 competitions entered, and once again casting the nation’s attention on the long-forgotten, hidden valley. 

AVA STATUS ACHIEVED, A DREAM REALIZED

“When you leave Sanel Valley, the highway goes up a rocky gorge. In the spring, when the grass is green and the moss is on the rocks, they show off their dark green coats to any travelers who may come by—and it will surely make you glad you came that way. The gorge is full of ancient oak trees, and, if there is water in the creek that comes down through the big rocks, it sings as it splashes along, for the creek bed is steep—no murmuring brook to this stream. Then you come out to the valley itself, where nature placed it as if on a hilltop. The steep brushy mountain for a background makes the valley seem so big.”

‘McDowell Valley’, Ray Schultz, “Valleys of Mendocino County” 1981

“Whether viewed by auto or air, the valley is quickly perceived to be visibly contained by the surrounding mountains. The soils of the valley are unique in that they are mainly fertile terrace types that produce well-balanced vines and excellent quality wines. In my opinion, McDowell Valley is unique among the wine-growing areas of Mendocino County, and is deserving of a distinct area appellation.”

Bruce Beardon, Farm Advisor, ‘Petition for McDowell Valley AVA’, 1984

“Enthusiasm, not controversy, accompanies this petition.”

Karen Keehn, VP McDowell Valley Vineyards, ‘Petition for McDowell Valley AVA’, 1984

In 1982, fresh out of college, Karen Crawford’s son, William ‘Bill’ Crawford became involved with the winery, adding new momentum to the already thriving business. The Crawford’s knew that what they had was something special, and through their perseverance and commitment, along with the full support of the winemaking and agricultural communities, McDowell Valley petitioned and officially achieved AVA status in 1987. AVAs (American Viticulture Areas) are distinct geographical regions that allow winemakers to convey the pedigree of their wines by labeling them from specific areas. 

In the late 1980s, led by the then notorious ‘cowboy winemaker’ Bill Crawford, McDowell Valley Vineyards refocused, making the decision to concentrate on Rhône varietal wines. Bill understood how close the climate and mood of McDowell Valley compared to the French vineyards along the Rhône River as it met the Mediterranean. To him, the decision was obvious. “We just looked at our company and at how many medals our Syrah had won over the years.” 

Syrah is undoubtedly the noblest and most well-known of the Rhône varietals, and the towering ancient vines of Gibson Block in McDowell Valley are among the oldest known in the western world. With vines dating back to the 1880s, this block contains multiple varietals that all contribute to a beautiful Syrah-based field blend. These deep-rooted, chance-discovered vines combine to produce silky smooth, rich wines with intense, concentrated flavor. “The real quality difference among wines is a direct result of the caliber of grapes,” said Bill. “We believe the right conditions exist in McDowell Valley to make America’s best Syrah.”

THE RHÔNE RANGERS

In a continued effort to establish his beloved varietals as a centerpiece in American wine culture, Bill Crawford joined the likes of Joseph Phelps of Joseph Phelps Winery, Fred Cline of Cline Cellars Winery, and Steve Edmunds of Edmunds St. John, among others, founding the Rhône Rangers in the late 1980s—a group devoted to promoting the planting and use of grape varietals from France’s Rhône Valley region. Their success helped revive many traditional Rhône varietals that were dying out in California, such as Grenache, Mouvedre, and Viognier. 

Syrah, however, always maintained its position as the star varietal. “Syrah is really leading the way for us,” said Bill Crawford in his cowboy directness. “People who drink Merlot will like it, and people who drink Cabernet feel it’s sophisticated enough for them to drink as well.” Bill shrugs, just another day at the ranch. 

Marietta Cellars, A NEW ERA

The McDowell Valley always had a special place in the heart of Chris Bilbro, Marietta’s founder. In Billy Crawford he also found a kindred spirit who loved the outdoors—from the mountains in Montana, to fishing and diving all over the world. Chris had a habit of dropping off an abalone now and then to folks he cared about… It may have been those very abalone that moved Billy to call Marietta when he decided to sell his vineyards. In any case, it led to a sweet, friendly transfer of responsibility for those ancient vines and beautiful property between two like-minded families. 

In 2012 Marietta purchased McDowell Valley Vineyards after working with the fruit over several decades. The conditions in McDowell Valley are perfect for a delicate balance of bright fruit, savory richness, and intensity in a finished wine—especially in the Rhône varietals grown there. Marietta’s commitment to sustainability and honoring the delicate historic nature of the valley has culminated in the most highly regarded wines ever produced in the AVA—and once again Syrah is leading the way

The 2018 Gibson Block Syrah has been praised by critics such as Robert Parker and James Suckling. Ancient vines translate into distinctive character with refined integrated tannins, crunchy graphite minerality, and an impeccably bright finish. In addition to the highly-acclaimed Gibson Block, McDowell Valley has provided the provided the core components to Marietta’s classic ‘Old Vine Red’ for a generation, gaining the wine wide-spread acceptance as California’s leading red blend.

While the 2018 Gibson Block is currently sold out at the winery, there are a few remaining bottles reserved for Marietta Cellars Wine Club Members during the upcoming Winter Club Release. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Marietta Wine Club. 

Gibson Block SYRAH

Gibson Block Syrah, made entirely from the towering ancient vines planted in the 1880s, has been praised by critics such as Robert Parker and James Suckling, and has gained a reputation as one of California’s top Syrahs. A profound and energetic red wine, the Gibson Block Syrah has dynamic dark fruit gaminess at its core. Black cherries and blueberries abound with crushed peppercorn structure with a hint of rosemary. 

2018 Gibson Block Press

96 POINTS  |  WINE ADVOCATE

“The 2018 Gibson Block Syrah comes from very old vines interplanted with other varieties like Grenache, Trousseau Noir and Mission. They are dry-farmed, picked together and co-fermented. It has a deep ruby-purple color and deep, layered aromas of tar, earth, blackcurrant liqueur, cast iron and dried violets. The full-bodied palate bursts with juicy acidity, sparks of Luxardo cherry and a silky, rounded mouthfeel. It finishes very long and perfumed.” – E.B. 

94 POINTS  |  JAMES SUCKLING

“Blackberry, black-licorice and tar aromas follow through to a full body with round, soft tannins that are reserved and focused. Fresh finish. Rich and spicy at the end with a slight meatiness. ” – J.S.

Learn more about the many benefits of Marietta membership.

Springtime at McDowell Ranch

Each year, as winter’s chill recedes into Spring’s sun, our vineyards come alive with a dazzling display of color as the wildflowers and other cover crops come into full bloom. But this incredible display isn’t just for show; it’s an integral component of organic farming and sustainable viticulture.

Magic in the vines

Wildflower season in Wine Country is nothing short of pure magic, and no matter how many times you experience it, the sheer beauty always takes your breath away. Whether purposefully planted or growing wild, mustards, wildflowers,  and other cover crops thrive in the late winter months when rain and sun are abundant. They blanket our vineyards in a vibrant show of yellows, whites, pinks, and oranges before they are tilled under to mulch, providing valuable nutrients to the vines and limiting the need for pesticides or artificial soil amendments. 

The practice of planting cover crops can be traced back thousands of years throughout Europe. In California, it’s said that Franciscan monks were the first to spread mustard seeds while landscaping missionary properties during the 17th and 18th Centuries. The monks would slowly walk the fields with a bag of seeds slung over their shoulder, a small hole in the bottom allowing the mustard to scatter as they moved about. Over the years, the seeds, which travel naturally via wind, water, or bird, slowly began to dominate the landscape. 

So what exactly is a cover crop?

And mustard is a condiment, right?

The simplest answer is: Cover crops provide a valuable service to grapevines, facilitating viticulture and supporting long-term vineyard health. Grown in the winter months when grapevines lie dormant, cover crops prevent erosion and naturally aerate the soil as their roots take hold. Also, cover crops recapture nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from the atmosphere as they grow. They are eventually tilled back into the soil, providing a nutrient-rich feast for the budding vines and supporting the microbiological activity that comes from increased aeration. 

A variety of cover crops are employed by thoughtful vineyard managers, such as legumes, cereals, grasses, and wildflowers—each lending a specific contribution to overall vineyard health. Mustard, in particular, is a traditional favorite among farmers. In addition to providing valuable phosphorus and nitrogen, it brings high levels of biofumigants to the soil, drastically suppressing the nematode (microscopic worm) population that can damage vines. Advances in agroscience have led many vineyards to devise their own variety of cover crops, such as the “extra spicy” variation of mustard, an even more potent nematode deterrent. 

As for the condiment, it’s one and the same. To create a classic mustard sauce, grind the dried seeds from the mustard plant and mix with vinegar, water, and any other variety of spices, and it’s ready for your favorite meal.

Organic Farming at Marietta

At Marietta Cellars, mustard and other cover crops have always been a core component in the organic farming of our estate vineyards. As stewards of these historic sites, promoting vineyard health and longevity is among our greatest responsibilities and honors, and we’re proud to utilize these age-old techniques to ensure our vineyards will thrive for centuries to come. 

Amazing wine starts in the vines, and in turn, this magic shines throughout every bottle of Marietta. Pair our Old Vine Riesling or Old Vine Red with your favorite mustard dish this Spring, and be sure to give a special tip of the glass to everyone’s favorite cover crop.

In the Garden ’22

Get growing, get grilling! With the summer season in full swing, we’ve got some tips from our resident gardeners to ensure your best harvest yet. Read on for our favorite summer wines for alfresco sipping, and some simple and inspiring grilling ideas. 

Get Growin'

A thriving garden certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but at least some of the basic habits can. We’ve pulled together some quick tips from our own resident garden gurus, Efrain and Nano, to help you nail the basics of a great summer garden. 

  • Consistent watering. First on the list—and especially important in dry environments such as California—is regular watering. When you’re ready to really step up your game, one of the most beneficial projects you can do in your garden is installing a simple drip irrigation system, and setting it on an automatic timer. This allows you to control precisely how much water your plants are getting and how often. It allows you to dial in your garden’s production, and is a must for someone with a busy schedule. 
  • Keep it clean. Regularly check your garden for undergrowth, weeds, dead leaves, or brush, and regularly prune yellow and dead leaves from plants, generally a clean environment. This keeps out unwanted pests, allows for better air flow around leaves and aeration of roots, and gives better visibility to monitor any potential issues.
  • Give space to grow. Take time to map out your garden at the beginning of the season to avoid crowding plants together and be sure to provide ample space per plant. Remember, pretty soon that tiny seed might be bigger than you!
  • Watch for telltales. Monitor your garden closely as you dial in a new system. Are the plants being under or overwatered and irrigation need adjusted? Do these specific types of vegetables like the shade of a certain area vs the sun in another? What are your plants telling you? 
  • Master your space. As farmers, there is so much beauty in seasonality. Much like a vineyard, or any farming for that matter, perfection comes from years of practice and learning. Never stop getting better, and when you’re swimming in tomatoes, it will all be worth it.
  • Have fun! Roll up your sleeves, get your boots dirty, and when the work is done, be sure to toast with plenty of Marietta! 

Get Grillin'

With a little prep, treating yourself can be easy. This August, we have three of our favorite wines to enjoy in our own gardens, as well as some elevated garden delicacies that can be prepared in a snap with a little prior preparation. First, some quick tips-

  • Prep beforehand. Many parts of a meal can be prepared several nights in advance, and even get better with a bit of time, such as marinades or dry ages. Get your mise en place prepared in advance, and you’ll be ready to roll as soon as the grill’s lit. 
  • Let the ingredients shine. In the same way that great wine starts in the vineyards, a great summer meal starts in the garden. By the time you pull that tomato off the vine, the hard part is already done. Season and prepare it simply. Let your hard work shine and enjoy.
  • Choose the right wines. After a day of hard work, you want a wine that’s approachable, generous, and dependable and pairs with just about anything on the table. Our OVR and Family series wines are built for everyday enjoyment and are perfect for a day in the garden.
  • Make new traditions. There’s nothing like the first BLT of the year from your summer garden, the first pesto pizza, chili-marinaded grilled chicken, or whatever your staples are. Don’t be afraid to share your passion with friends and family, and allow them to share theirs too by adding a garden theme to your next gathering—who doesn’t love a good ‘pesto fest’ or ‘grilled garden potluck’?

GARDEN FAVORITES

There’s nothing like enjoying a glass of wine in your own garden. Read on for our favorites, as well as some elevated delicacies that can easily be prepared days beforehand so that you can get right to grillin’.

Succotash is the perfect ‘kitchen sink’ garden casserole. It’s to simple to prepare, excellent on its own or as a side, and a colorful way to show off your garden. In its purest form, succotash is a dish of tenderly cooked, simply seasoned veggies, warmed and tossed lightly with melted butter and herbs. While most modern recipes say a proper succotash should have corn and lima beans, sometimes it’s more about the spirit of the process and less about the ingredients, and succotash is a great way to utilize whatever array of fresh, fridge, or frozen veggies you have on hand at the moment. Cook all your components at once, or prepare separately and combine at the end. To really kick things up, try grilling some of the ingredients, such as eggplants, corn, or peppers. Prepare succotash beforehand and simply reheat.

Rosé, the Marietta way. Perfect for the casual delicassy of succotash is our Old Vine Rosé. Inspired by the vibrant rosés of Provence—the coastal region of southeast France bordering Italy—this refreshing summer wine is the perfect sipper for a day spent planting, pruning, and harvesting.  It’s fresh, nuanced, and perfectly balanced to enjoy with food or on its own. As always with the “OVR” wines, it delivers a lot more substance and pleasure than you could expect. Pair Old Vine Rosé with an assortment of summer fruits and veggies, enjoyed fresh off the vine or prepared simply over hot coals with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of your favorite olive oil. 

93 POINTS, Wine Advocate. “Medium cherry pink in color, the 2021 Old Vine Rosé has deep scents of yellow peaches, watermelon, and red cherries with touches of stone and potpourri. The palate boasts concentrated, fruity flavors balanced by zippy acidity, and it finishes with pretty orange peel accents. This is such a delicious rosé! It’s made up of co-fermented Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir and Syrah.”

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Polpo (octopus) seared over fire has been a staple of seafairing mediteraniean cultures as long as wine itself, and is an easy grilled delicacy with a little prior preparation. After cleaning, one of the easier way to tenderize the polpo is to poach for 30-90 minutes in a pot of water with a halved lemon and garlic head, a few bay leaves, peppercorns, and any other herbs you’d like until fork tender. From here you can remove from the pot and allow to cool, pat dry, toss in olive oil and season, and keep the in the fridge for up to three days. When you’re ready for a quick delicacy, simply bring to room temp, add any additional seasoning, and sear directly over a hot grill. 

America’s favorite red blend. And what better to go with grilled polpo than Old Vine Red? Delicious and uncomplicated, our modern California version of an old-world Mediterranean-style table wine can be enjoyed with food or without, for a special occasion or a simple pleasure. Our signature old vine blend has been paired with garden dinners for generations. It combines pure fruit, a supple mouthfeel, and a broad structure into a seriously drinkable red. Pair it with all things summer grillin’, from hot dogs and hamburgers to smoked brisket or grilled polpo.

95 Points, Wine Advocate. “The NV OVR Lot 73 is composed mainly of Zinfandel with smaller portions of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignan and Barbera. Medium ruby, it offers intense red cherry, blood orange and apricot perfume with accents of rooibos tea leaves, red licorice, saline, lilac and loads of spicy nuances. The medium-bodied palate is light on its feet with soft tannins, bursts of refreshing acidity and detailed amaro accents on the long finish. This is so easy to drink!”

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Overnight Salt-Cured Ribeye. One of the easiest way to step up your steak game is it salt the meat anywhere from 24 hours to 14 days or longer and allow it to sit on a rack in the fridge. Over time, the salt draws out moisture and tenderizes the surface, allowing you to get a pretty immaculate sear when grilled. To salt cure (or dry brine) a steak, simply season with the same amount of salt you usually would, and allow to sit on a rack in the fridge for a day or longer. That’s it, you’re done. Then cook it the same way you always would. Just hold on the salt since its already on there. 

A Cabernet worthy of your grill. Armé Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted in honor of Marietta’s husband Armé, a master gardener in his own right who appreciated a good steak when the day’s work was done. This exemplary California Cabernet conveys a taut freshness and aromatic purity. Stylistically balanced between modern California and Old World, this wine is dense with fresh, dark fruit and tempered with a savory, earthy character. What better way to wash down the perfect sear on that steak.

94 Points, Wine Advocate. “The 2019 Armé Cabernet Sauvignon has a medium ruby-purple color and layered aromas of red and black currants, violet, iron, underbrush and mushrooms. The medium-bodied palate is pleasantly rustic and a touch chewy, with bright acidity, pretty floral perfume and an earth-laced finish.”

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Mariett-za

For thousands of years and across countless cultures, kings and queens and commonfolk alike have gathered ‘round to delight in freshly baked flatbreads topped with oils, cheeses, herbs, proteins, and veggies—all to be washed down by jugs of the finest locally-fermented grape wine. While the duo has certainly grown and evolved since their first iterations in antiquity, no matter how you slice it, pizza and wine are a pairing that’s stood the test of time. You’d be hard-pressed to find a meal as convenient, versatile, affordable, and just as plain fun as pizza. It’s quick to make, easy to consume, and the perfect solution for just about any casual gathering. Read on for tips on leveling up your next pizza night, inspiration on topping combos from our own oven, and even a bit of geeky pizza history to impress your guests after a few glasses.

Pizza Night Pro Tips

So what’s it take for your pizza night to reign supreme? Here are a few quick tips to really heat things up to the next level.

  • Perfect your dough and cooking process. Your dough can be as simple or complex as you’d like. You can spend years perfecting a from-scratch sourdough recipe, or pick up pre-made dough rounds at the local market. The key is finding something that works well with your style and heat source. Different levels of hydration, flours, proofing and kneading times, and type of yeast, are among the many variables that will change how your dough reacts to different levels of heat and cooking times. So while you can certainly utilize a universal store-bought dough for terrific results, geeking out a bit and developing a ‘house’ dough can really set your pizza apart. 
  • Choose your style and master it. Keep a notebook as you go. With so many factors, such as the way your oven heats, moisture levels in the air, the rise time of your dough, pan choice, ect, you’ll want to keep track of as many things as possible along your pizza pilgrimage. How was the crust? Was the heat too high? Did the dough cook in the middle? Stick with your certain ‘style’, (pan, NY, Neapolitan, Chicago, Detroit, Roman, and New England are among the many modern forms), take notes, make adjustments, make the recipe your own, and keep improving. And if it’s your first time with a new dough recipe or process, definitely do a test run prior to hosting. The last thing you want is soggy-bottomed pizza and a house full of hungry guests. 
  • Don’t stress it, try premade dough. You don’t have to be a professional baker to make amazing pizza, and now most local grocery stores now carry quality dough balls ready for shaping, and even pre-made flats already shaped and ready for toppings. If you’re getting pre-made dough balls, make sure you allow enough time for the dough to warm up and come back to life, usually about 3-5 hours out of the fridge prior to cooking. And it’s totally ok for it to come frozen! In fact, that’s a great way to batch your own dough and save it for ease of use later. Transfer freezer dough to the fridge a day or so before you intend to use it, then treat it the same as the aforementioned fridge dough. At the end of the day, pizza is just flatbread with fun and exciting topping—keep it simple and don’t stress it. 
  • Prep your toppings beforehand. Marinating and roasting mushrooms, browning sausage, picking basil, slicing cheese, breaking down proteins, and crushing or pureeing sauce are among the many things that can be easily done ahead of time to make for a more efficient party process later—especially for a build-your-own toppings bar. You can even pre-build your pizza in a well-oiled sheet pan or cast iron and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it in the oven. 
  • Add homemade toppings to frozen pizzas. For something really quick and easy, try adding your own toppings to a premade frozen plain pizza from the store. This is a great way to have a pizza party with all the topping action at a moment’s notice, while also enjoying a well-deserved break in most of the prep work.
  • Make a menu. Planning your wine and toppings can be a ton of fun. Show off your work with a well designed menu. Post it up on the wall or fridge and get you’re guests even more stoked. 
  • Choose approachable wines. It’s really tough to go wrong here, and pizza can easily be paired with anything from beers and ciders to whiskeys and cigars. It’s the age-old fermented grape juice however that’s been pizza’s longest dancing partner, and it’s tough to find a better way to wash down a slice than with the ol’ rosso. Choose a wine that’s versatile, with a balance and drinkability that matches the ease of pizza. For a large group, choose several wines and encourage guests to explore their own tastebuds—at the end of the night what was everyone’s favorite combo?
  • Load up on Marietta OVR and Family Series wines. Crafted to be easy-drinking and approachable, these wines over-deliver, offering superb quality with unrivaled value. They’re designed to pair with a wide variety of food styles and meal options, and will not only have your guests howling for more, but also leave plenty of room in your budget for extra Prosciutto. Whether you’re gathering with family and friends in celebration, or simply relaxing at home, our Family Series and OVR Series wines are the perfect matches for your next pizza night. Browse our entire library of wines here.
  • Have fun! Grab life by the slice and take a bite. Above all, keep experimenting and have fun out there, there’s so much joy (and cheese) in the journey.

Wine-spiration

You can rest assured that pizza will pair with virtually anything—yet thoughtful topping combinations and wine pairings can really make the entire meal sing. To get you started, here are a few combos from our own oven.

Prosciutto di Parma | Burrata | Cherry Tomato | Arugula |Parmesan

Satisfyingly refreshing with a dry, mouthwatering finish, this quintessential summer rosé is perfect for the salty-savoriness of Prosciutto di Parma (salt-cured Italian ham), and a refreshing compliment to the hearty creaminess of Burrata (cream inside a ball of mozzarella, you heard that right). Cherry tomatoes cooked on the pizza add a burst of acidity, and a fresh bed of arugula added to the pizza after it’s been taken out of the oven (slice it first!), along with shaved Parmesan to top add a savory, peppery kick to the finish. Wash it down with our Old Vine Rosé, and you may have found your new favorite summer combo.

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Crushed Tomato Sauce | Fresh Mozzarella | Basil

It’s tough to beat a classic, and the Margherita pizza, with its bright and juicy tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella, and fresh, herbal bursts of torn basil, is a perfect complement to our own classic, Old Vine Red. OVR—the groundbreaking combination of varietals and multiple vintages first produced in 1982—harkens back to our own Italian heritage, and has blazed the path for CA red blends for decades. It’s smooth and long in the mouth, with a balance of bright acid, a rich center, and a structured finish. Our goal of OVR is always to create an enjoyable table wine made with integrity, that combines pure fruit, a supple mouth feel, and a rich, solid structure. Try adding savory toppings such as olives, oregano, or pepperoni slices to really make this combination sing. 

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BBQ Pulled Chicken | Red Onion | Smoked Mozzarella | Oregano | Pickled Jalapeno | Smokey & Tangy BBQ Sauce

One of the grape varieties that Marietta is famous for, this wine captures the bright, juicy character of Zinfandel, and hearkens to an era before dark, thick, and oaky styles took hold. Román’s Zinfandel is delightfully ripe and approachable, yet offers a seamless transition into layered complexity with the perfect pop of crunchy acidity. For a real treat, try it with a smokey and tangy BBQ pizza, topped with red onions and pulled chicken from the grill or smoker. Finish with a drizzle of your favorite BBQ sauce.

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Wild Boar Sausage | Carmelized Onion | Crushed Tomato Sauce | Fresh Mozzarella | Oregano | Parmesan

This California-grown Rhône varietal blend is focused and piquant, with a smack of black pepper lifted by the scent of dried roses. It surges with ripe Rainier cherries, a touch of dark chocolate, and a depth of black tea and licorice, delivering both power and balance with a seemingly endless finish. Named and styled after Marietta’s founder, Chris Bilbro, this wine is a conundrum of opposites: extracted, intensely flavorful, yet somehow gentle and welcoming. Try it along with a red pizza topped with gamey wild boar sausage, hearty caramelized onions, and the beautifully pungent trio of garlic, oregano, and Parmesan. Your taste buds will be singing for more and more.

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Marinaded & Roasted Mushrooms | Garlic | Guanciale | Fresh Mozzarella | Basil | Pecorino

This Cabernet Sauvignon conveys a taut freshness and aromatic purity. Stylistically balanced between modern California and Old World, this wine is dense with fresh, dark fruit and tempered with a savory, earthy character. Blackberries, bright cherries, and plums, with hints of leather and tobacco, all intertwine for a wonderfully balanced mouthfeel. Sumptuous yet racy, polished yet spirited, delicious and gratifying—it is an iconic culmination in the glass. 

For this pizza, earthy mushrooms are marinated in rosemary, thyme, garlic, chunky sea salt, and olive oil a day or so in advance, then roasted in a 425-degree oven until golden brown, before being cooled and sliced for topping. Cook the guanciale on the stovetop to render out the fat the same way you would for bacon, then cool and slice into slivers for topping. The heartiness of the mushrooms and guanciale is offset by the cooling herbal notes of the basil and a tang from the Pecorino, and are a delightful match for the supple tannins of Armé Cabernet Sauvignon.

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A Slice of History

Pizza is truly the meal of the people. While the origins of the word itself are lost to the crusts of time, the earliest known reference to pizza comes from Virgil’s Aeneid, an epic poem recounting the founding of Rome written between 29 and 19 BC. Early in the poem, the hero Aeneas is given a prophecy, “When you arrive at a place so tired and hungry that you eat your tables, you will know you have reached your promised land.” Later in the epic, as Aeneas and his famished crew arrive ashore in mainland Italy, the men scrounge together ‘fruits of the field’ and stack their bounty on thin, round ‘plates’ or ‘tables’ of stale bread. The men sat, “ripping into the thin dry crusts, never sparing a crumb of the flat-bread scored in quarters,” Near the completion of the meal, as Aeneas’s son Ascanius finishes the crust of his pizza, he joyfully exclaims, “Hey, we’re even eating our tables!”

Food historians, however, believe that the almighty ‘za predates even Virgil by centuries, tracing its earliest origins back to the ‘bread plates’ of early Mediterranean civilization. These round flatbreads were topped with olive oil, herbs, cheese, vegetables, and proteins, and were a convenient grab-and-go meal option for travelers or commonfolk on the go who didn’t have access to clay or metal plates. For thousands of years, pizza would remain the staple of the people, unassuming, unpretentious, …and without tomato sauce?!

Tomatoes simply didn’t exist in the old world, and weren’t brought back from the Spanish new world (present-day Central and South America) until the 16th century. The first reference of tomato sauce in Italy isn’t found until 1692 in the cookbook, ‘The Modern Steward’, and the first reference with pasta wasn’t until 1790. The earliest reference to the ‘modern classic’ pizza is in the now-famous story of Italy’s King Umberto I and Queen Margherita’s visit to Naples in 1889. Growing tired of the complicated French meals they were being served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the royal couple requested a local Neopolitan specialty, and the legendary pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito brought the heat. 

Naples, a bustling seaside city in the heart of the Mediterranean with more people than space, had refined and perfected pizza over the centuries into the modern beauty we know today out of the sheer necessity of their environment. They needed to feed people fast and affordably, and with the ingredients they had on hand—including the tomato, which arguably grows in southern Italy better than anywhere in the world. That day in Naples, Raffaele stoked his oven and made three pizzas for the king and queen. All we’re loved, but it was the final combination—tomato, basil, and mozzarella—chosen for the colors of the Italian flag–that truly delighted the queen, and the now-classic combination was henceforth christened ‘Pizza Margherita’ in her honor. 

With royal approval, pizza was tossed into the spotlight, transforming the doughy delight from a food of Italy’s poor ‘Lazzaroni’ to something enjoyed by kings and queens and commonfolk alike. It would be the second world war however that truly accelerated the popularity of pizza into a global staple. When Allied soldiers invaded Italy in the 1940’s, they were so enthralled with the local pizza that they requested it everywhere they went, including post-war back in the states. By the 1960’ pizza-mania had spread across Europe and America, with every big city and small town developing and perfecting their own local style and specialties.

From Aeneus’s soldiers to the Allies of World War 2, pizza has stood the test of time, feeding hungry soldiers and entire civilizations for thousands of years. So next time you make it for your crew, remember the words of Aeneus’s son—go ahead and eat your table. And when you’re finished, wash it down with some Marietta.

Grilled Sirloin with Smoked Cauliflower Purée and Roasted Fennel

Grass-fed beef sirloin is marinated with rosemary and garlic, then seared and roasted to medium-rare perfection and served with smokey, creamy cauliflower puree, and crisp roasted fennel. Herbed butter along with shallots cooked in red wine add fat and freshness to the warm flavors of beef and smoke. Finish with a reduction sauce of beef bones, broth, and wine.

Pair with: 2019 EX MARIETTA Syrah

Ingredients

1 top sirloin roast; trimmed and trussed
1 branch rosemary; stripped and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 head white cauliflower
2 cups heavy cream
2 1/4 cups water
6 cloves garlic; pounded smooth in mortar and pestle
1 sprig thyme
4 heads fennel
1 lb. unsalted butter; room temperature
1 shallot
5 cups red wine (Christo or Old Vine Red)
One bunch parsley; picked and finely chopped
1 Eureka lemon
2 carrots; peeled and cut into 1” pieces
2 stalks celery; cut into 1” pieces
2 yellow onions; peeled and diced into 1” pieces
3 lb. beef bones
1 gallon gelatinous beef stock
2 bay leaves
black pepper
salt

Preparation

Sirloin 
Marinate roast with rosemary, half the garlic, and olive oil, then season generously with salt and coarse ground black pepper, and leave at room temperature for one to two hours before cooking. Sear on all sides on a grill or in a cast iron pan, then remove to a sheet tray lined with a wire rack. Set into 350° oven and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast reads between 128° and 132°. Rest 15 minutes before carving.

Cauliflower
Discard leaves and the stem end from the cauliflower. Cut the head into small pieces and set aside. Use a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid and perforated insert or steam tray to create a stovetop smoker. Using aluminum foil, create a palm-sized pouch and fill with about a quarter cup of hickory chips. Place the pouch directly on the bottom of the pot, then heat on high until the pouch begins to smoke. Reduce heat to medium-low, then add cauliflower to perforated insert or steam tray and set into the pot above wood chips, covering tightly with the lid for 10-15 minutes or until wood chips appear burned out.

While the cauliflower smokes, heat cream with thyme, garlic, 2 cups water, and a few pinches of salt in a medium-sized pot. When cauliflower is smoke-tinted, add to the cream mixture and simmer until fully tender, then purée until smooth in a blender. If too thin, reduce the purée over low heat until desired consistency is achieved.

Fennel 
Remove tough outer layer from fennel bulbs. Trim root end slightly, then cut fennel into wedges no more than an inch in width. Lay out onto parchment lined sheet tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt then roast in a 450° oven until tender and lightly browned, flipping over halfway through the cook time.

Compound Butter
Dice shallot into 1/8” cubes then cook in 2 of cups red wine until the wine is completely cooked away and the shallots are tender. Squeeze shallots in a length of double-lined cheesecloth to remove any excess wine and set aside. Combine shallots with the butter, parsley, pounded garlic, zest and half of the juice from one lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.

Beef Sauce 
Brown beef bones in a 450° oven until fully browned but not burned. Sauté celery, carrots, and onions over medium low flame until fully tender and lightly caramelized. In a large pot, combine stock, browned beef bones, caramelized vegetables, 3 cups of red wine, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Let mixture gently simmer for 4 hours, adding water to keep the bones submerged if necessary. After 4 hours, strain broth and reduce until the sauce lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon, skimming as needed. Season with salt.

To Serve:
Place a large spoonful of purée on the plate with a few pieces of roasted fennel and thin slices of sirloin roast. Spread the room temperature compound butter across the sliced beef and spoon the beef sauce over the butter.

Pair with: 2019 EX MARIETTA Syrah

More Spring Recipes:

Casarecce with Wild Mushrooms + 2018 Game Trail Cabernet

Citrus & Spiced-almond Salad + 2020 Román Zinfandel

Little Gem Salad with Citrus, Spiced-almonds, and Mint

Crisp Little Gems are dressed in a zesty citrus and green garlic vinaigrette and accompanied by vibrant Cara Cara and blood oranges. A generous topping of almonds toasted with Aleppo pepper and smoky paprika add a contrasting spice element to the dish that balances out the acidity from the citrus, as well as the cooling freshness of the mint and radishes. Serve individually plated, or as a show-shopping platter. 

Pair with: 2020 Román Zinfandel

Ingredients

3 heads Little Gem lettuce
1 Cara Cara orange
1 blood orange
1 watermelon radish
1 cup whole almonds
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 Eureka lemon
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 stalk green garlic; chopped fine
1 spring onion; cut thin on bias
2/3 cup olive oil
salt
sprig of mint leaves

Preparation

Little Gems 
Remove leathery or damaged outer leaves as well as the root end. Separate leaves, then wash in cold water and dry in a salad spinner.

Vinaigrette
Combine green garlic, spring onion, white wine vinegar, Dijon, lemon juice with the zest of all the citrus, and a pinch of salt. Let soften for 15 minutes then whisk in olive oil. Adjust by adding more vinegar or olive oil depending on your taste.

Radishes
Remove skins from radishes and slice into 1/8” rounds, halving each round.

Almonds
Toast almonds in a 350° oven until centers are tan. Cool completely then chop into halves and quarters and toss with 1 tsp olive oil, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, and a pinch of salt.

Citrus 
Using a sharp knife, trim stem and opposite end of oranges, then lay flat and cut away the remaining rind. Slice peeled oranges into 1/4” slices, removing any seeds.

To Serve:
Gently toss lettuces in a large bowl with vinaigrette and a pinch of salt, taste for balance, then set out onto plates and tuck radishes and orange slices about the lettuce. Sprinkle with almonds and torn mint leaves.

Pair with: 2020 Román Zinfandel. SHOP NOW>

More Spring Recipes:

Grilled Sirloin + 2019 EX MARIETTA Syrah

Casarecce with Wild Mushrooms + 2018 Game Trail Cabernet

Casarecce with Wild Mushrooms, Pecorino, and Gremolata

The season’s best wild mushrooms are cooked in an abundance of California olive oil, garlic, and thyme before being tossed with al dente Casarecce pasta. Little jewels of English peas pair perfectly with tangy and salty Pecorino Romano and fresh chopped gremolata. This earthy mushroom pasta will stand up to almost any Bordeaux-style wine with its green notes, fatty sauce, and salty cheese.

Pair with: 2018 Game Trail Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Ingredients

1 lb. Caserecce pasta
1 lb. wild mushrooms (morel, king trumpet, hedgehog, chanterelle, etc.)
5 cloves garlic
1⁄2 bunch thyme; picked and chopped
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 yellow onion
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 cup English peas; shelled
1 small wedge Pecorino Romano
1⁄2 bunch parsley
1 Eureka lemon
2 cups water
salt
olive oil

Preparation

Mushroom Ragu:
Peel carrot and onion, then dice into 1/4” cubes along with celery. Sauté in large pot over a medium-low flame with bay leaves until fully tender. While the vegetables sauté, clean and wash mushrooms and cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and sauté in olive oil until cooked through and lightly browned, then add to vegetables.

On the side, sizzle 4 cloves of garlic that have been chopped fine until very fragrant. Add thyme and cook briefly, then stir into mushrooms and vegetables, add water, and simmer together until the water has reduced most of the way and the mixture is juicy and flavorful. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

Gremolata:
Peel the rind from the lemon and remove any white pith from the inside. Chop rind finely, along with parsley and one clove of garlic.

To Serve:
Heat ragu in a large sauté pan. Boil pasta in salted water until desired doneness, and when a few minutes remain, add English peas to the pasta water and cook together until tender. Remove pasta and peas from water and add to ragu.

Sauté together, adding pasta water as needed, until ragu forms a saucy consistency. Divide onto plates, grate Pecorino over the top, and sprinkle with gremolata.

Pair with: 2018 Game Trail Cabernet Sauvignon

More Spring Recipes:

Grilled Sirloin + 2019 EX MARIETTA Syrah

Citrus & Spiced-almond Salad + 2020 Román Zinfandel

2022 Wine Advocate Review, parts 1 & 2

*updated Sep 24, 2022, to add EX MARIETTA reviews

Marietta is a true working winery. We take a thoughtful, roll-up-your-sleeves approach every step of the way, and let the wine speak for itself. This summer, we’re honored to have received the highest scoring portfolio review from Wine Advocate in our winery’s 45-year history. View the first two parts of our 2022 review below—including our EX MARIETTA, Family, OVR Series wines. 

2019 EX MARIETTA Petite Sirah

96 POINTS | EX MARIETTA Series

“Deep ruby-purple in color, the 2019 Petite Sirah is scented of blueberry, plums and dark cherry candy, with touches of tar, tobacco, violet and iron that continue to blossom as it spends time in the glass. The full-bodied palate is powerful yet restrained, its concentrated, floral fruits supported by clay-textured tannins, seamless acidity, and it has a long, layered finish. It’s a fantastic example of Petite Sirah that maintains elegance and lift—not an easy feat for this inherently powerful variety.”

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2019 EX MARIETTA Syrah

96 POINTS | EX MARIETTA Series

“The 2019 Syrah Angeli Vineyard is a brand-new wine from Marietta that represents the best barrels of the vintage. Medium to deep ruby-purple, it has exceptional perfume and an elegant expression, with pure aromas of blueberry, milk chocolate, iron, aniseed, thyme and violet. The full-bodied palate is packed with mineral-laced fruits, turning up the intensity and volume without taking on too much weight. It has loads of pixelated tannins, bursts of fresh acidity and a long, layered finish. Only about 56 cases were made.”

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2019 Armé Cabernet Sauvignon

94 POINTS | Family Series

“The 2019 Armé Cabernet Sauvignon has a medium ruby-purple color and layered aromas of red and black currants, violet, iron, underbrush and mushrooms. The medium-bodied palate is pleasantly rustic and a touch chewy, with bright acidity, pretty floral perfume and an earth-laced finish.”

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2019 Christo Red

96 POINTS | Family Series

“A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Viognier, the 2019 Christo has a deep ruby-purple color and alluring scents of blueberry jam and cassis with accents of loamy earth, violet, coffee beans and iron. The full-bodied palate is powerful yet silky, with seamless acidity and gobs of pure violet perfume on the long, layered finish. It’s easy to drink now but offers a decade or more of cellaring potential.”

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2020 román zinfandel

92 POINTS | Family Series

“A blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Barbera, the 2020 Román Zinfandel has a medium ruby-purple color and aromatic layers of raspberry, red cherry, rhubarb, aniseed and lilac with touches of iron and orange peel. The medium-bodied palate is gently chewy, with tart, juicy fruits and a spicy finish.”

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Old Vine Red, Lot 73

95 POINTS | OVR Series

“The NV OVR Lot 73 is composed mainly of Zinfandel with smaller portions of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignan and Barbera. Medium ruby, it offers intense red cherry, blood orange and apricot perfume with accents of rooibos tea leaves, red licorice, saline, lilac and loads of spicy nuances. The medium-bodied palate is light on its feet with soft tannins, bursts of refreshing acidity and detailed amaro accents on the long finish. This is so easy to drink!”

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2021 Old Vine Rosé

93 POINTS | OVR Series

“Medium cherry pink in color, the 2021 Old Vine Rosé has deep scents of yellow peaches, watermelon, and red cherries with touches of stone and potpourri. The palate boasts concentrated, fruity flavors balanced by zippy acidity, and it finishes with pretty orange peel accents. This is such a delicious rosé! It’s made up of co-fermented Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir and Syrah.”

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Fall ’22 Club: 2019 Angeli Zinfandel

Once a component of the Angeli Cuvée, this Zinfandel long stood out for its brilliance, clarity, and leanness. Now, showcased on its own, it speaks volumes about this unique little canyon off Alexander Valley known as Angeli Ranch. The halo-like image on the label pays homage to Viola Angeli, who sold the Angeli Ranch to Chris Bilbro in an angelic act that mirrors her name.

The estate series from Marietta is made with terroir in mind above all else. For many years these sites were included in blends, though they routinely stood out as extraordinary. These wines are true expressions of unique sites, crafted with freshness, tension and longevity in mind.

2019 Angeli Zinfandel

ESTATE SERIES

100% Zinfandel | Angeli Ranch Estate, Alexander Valley AVA

This is a thoughtful, structured organic Zinfandel wine with expressive texture and a bright disposition. Boysenberries, fragrant strawberries, and fresh lavender are seamlessly interwoven with peppered spice, cinnamon, and rich earth tones, providing harmonious complexity. The extremes of this site create a wine that is full bodied yet graceful, equally enjoyable now as it is ageworthy.

TASTING NOTES

From the Angeli vineyard in the Alexander Valley, these vines are grown in a large gravel swale that was the former Russian River prior to streambed migration. Yielding notes of potpourri and raspberry with exotic undernotes of orange chocolate and roses, this is not your average Zinfandel. Spicy white pepper and mint add freshness and verve to the brambly, dried cranberry filled mouth. Both pleasurable and demanding, this screams to be enjoyed with food… the bright acid and focused mouthfeel balance out rich and savory fare such as duck or mushroom risotto.

PAIRING SUGGESTIONS

An excellent foil to charred scallions, leg of lamb, and rosemary-scented potatoes, or as a more sturdy accompaniment to a creamy chocolate dessert.

CRITICS REVIEWS

95 POINTS | Wine Advocate: “The 2019 Angeli Zinfandel has a medium ruby color and elegant perfume of white peaches, white pepper, tea leaves, licorice and wild berries. The palate balances intense, ultra-perfumed fruit with loads of lift, and it finishes long and full of flavor. This is notable for its stellar price-to-quality ratio.”

95 POINTS | James Suckling: “Such a pretty zin with blackberries, figs, flowers and some bark on the nose. Follows through to a medium body, with firm and fine tannins and a fresh, spicy finish that develops into a black-pepper undertone. Very balanced zin.”

This wine is included in the 2022 Fall Club Shipment, along with our club-exclusive 2019 EX MARIETTA Petite Sirah, and our 2019 Christo Red from our Family series Learn more about the Marietta Wine Club here.

Vineyard Notes

The Angeli Ranch was sold to Chris Bilbro in 1990 by Viola Angeli, whose family had originally settled the land in 1886. When Viola was ready to sell the property, she offered it to Chris Bibro because he had purchased the grapes from the ranch for many years and always visited with Viola regularly. 35 acres of vineyards connect gravel swales from the Russian River to terraced knolls invisible from the valley floor. The Angeli Zinfandel takes its name from the homesteading family and exemplifies the cool effect of these unique vineyards in a bright, tense, and stony expression of Zinfandel.

Keep Exploring

2022 Fall Club Selection

2019 EX MARIETTA Petite Sirah. LEARN MORE>

2019 Christo Red. LEARN MORE>

2019 Angeli Zinfandel. SHOP NOW>

Fall ’22 Club: 2019 EX MARIETTA Petite Sirah

We’re thrilled to release our first single-varietal Petite Sirah in nearly two decades as part of our member-exclusive EX MARIETTA series. This 100% Petite Sirah from our Angeli Ranch estate in Alexander Valley is bold, flavorful, and the perfect complement to rich, nuanced fall meals. Learn more about this exciting new release below. 

EX MARIETTA is intended for the curious palate, one that seeks nuance, tension, and atypical balance. We’re capturing thrilling snapshots in the cellar—small lot wines that excite us as a winemakers and artists—and giving them a smaller stage and tighter frame.

2019 EX marietta Petite Sirah

EX MARIETTA Series

100% Petite Sirah, Angeli Ranch, Alexander Valley AVA

Sourced from a single vineyard block comprised of shale and gravel soil. Handpicked, fermented at cooler-then-normal temps in stainless steel, and aged 20 months in neutral French oak barrels.

TASTING NOTES

Smelling this wine is like finding refuge in a cool, dark cave in the middle of the afternoon. There is a change in the temperature, a stillness, and an absence of sound. Earth and iron-rich rock rise to the nose. A hint of the heady forest floor outside still wafts in. The aromatic space is protected, strong, and available… and feels like it will be there whether you visit or not. On the mouth, texture is the first impression: like fine silt flowing over the river bottom, a feeling of motion, erosion, and settling. Bitter chocolate, plum cake, and blueberries swirl through the incredible density of flavors. Given the intensity, the wine is amazingly bright, clean, and still nimble. 

PAIRING SUGGESTIONS

Time-worn, pure, and monolithic… this wine will stand up to wild game, mirror the darkness of Oaxacan mole negro, help ground the creamy crustiness of french bread and cheese, or deepen a beef stew, all while giving both your taste buds and mind layers of stimulation for any evening.

CRITICS REVIEWS

96 POINTS | Wine Advocate: “Deep ruby-purple in color, the 2019 Petite Sirah is scented of blueberry, plums and dark cherry candy, with touches of tar, tobacco, violet and iron that continue to blossom as it spends time in the glass. The full-bodied palate is powerful yet restrained, its concentrated, floral fruits supported by clay-textured tannins, seamless acidity, and it has a long, layered finish. It’s a fantastic example of Petite Sirah that maintains elegance and lift—not an easy feat for this inherently powerful variety..”

This wine is included in the 2022 Fall Club Shipment, along with our 2019 EX MARIETTA Petite Sirah, and our 2019 Christo Red from our Family series Learn more about the Marietta Wine Club here.

Vineyard Notes

The Angeli Ranch was sold to Chris Bilbro in 1990 by Viola Angeli, whose family had originally settled the land in 1886. When Viola was ready to sell the property, she offered it to Chris Bibro because he had purchased the grapes from the ranch for many years and always visited with Viola regularly. 35 acres of vineyards connect gravel swales from the Russian River to terraced knolls invisible from the valley floor. The Angeli Zinfandel takes its name from the homesteading family and exemplifies the cool effect of these unique vineyards in a bright, tense, and stony expression of Zinfandel.

Keep Exploring

2022 Fall Club Selection

2019 Angeli Zinfandel. LEARN MORE>

2019 Christo Red. LEARN MORE>

2019 EX MARIETTA Petite Sirah. SHOP NOW>