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Vine Hunting in Sicily - The Bryan Harrington Story

By Greg Rubin

September 03, 2017

By Greg Rubin

September 03, 2017
"In the example of Charbono, there are some people who really are doing it with a lot of attention and care, certainly in Napa.

But take Mission, for example. Mission has been farmed out there in the Central Valley, and it’s sold for $400 a ton. When I first started working with it, I said [to a grower], “That’s too little. I’m gonna pay you more, but I want you to do a really good job.” He really responded to that, and we’ve been making some interesting wine from Mission, not only Angelica [a fortified version], but a carbonically inspired one that I think is delicious.

Another one is Corvina. That hasn’t really been planted in California at all, and it just really responds beautifully to the sandy soils in Lodi. We’ve just planted it again down in San Benito County in limestone. It’s gonna provide a whole different flavor profile. This is the first year that I’m getting grapes from that vineyard..." - Wine Enthusiast, "The Arduous Quest to Bring Rare Grapes to California", Sept 1, 2017.

Seriously - read this whole article.  My man Bryan Harrington is on a mission (pun intended) and does a great job summarizing the difficulties of trying to get new varietals into the US.  If you want the Crib notes on crazy shit you may not have known before:

1) We may see some actual American Amarone soon, from Corvina planted out by Lime Kiln Valley.

2) If you walk into a restaurant in Sicily and the place is empty except for one older gentleman sitting in the back corner facing the door you might actually not get whacked.

3) If you suitcase vines back you're kind of an asshole and could infect entire vineyards.  If you bring them back legally the vines spend at least (!!!) two years in quarantine.

4) El Dorado County has some of the same soils, elevation, and exposition as Mt Etna. 

5) Raj Parr and Peter Stolpman are on to something with their Trousseau plantings.  Jura grapes have a long history in parts of California.

But really, do yourself a favor just go read the interview with Bryan.  It's an amazing glimpse into the underworld of varietal hunting.

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