Our Skyline Vineyard is so steep and tightly spaced that it can only be farmed by hand.
Welcome to the inaugural release of Rhys Vineyards! After many years of planning, passion and hard work, we are extremely excited to finally have some wine to share with fellow wine lovers. It is thrilling that so many of you have shown an interest in our efforts and we are committed to fulfilling your high expectations.
Over the last few months, we have been fortunate to receive some very positive initial press coverage. Many of you are probably wondering what to expect from Rhys, so we have included a few excerpts:
“These wines are already special but as the vines mature and the Rhys team understands better how to maximize the full potential of their fruit, I predict they will become among the reference standards for pinot noir in California.” -Allen Meadows/Burghound.com.
“Rhys Vineyards is, obviously, still in its infancy. But it has the potential of becoming one of California’s most compelling estates, given the location of its vineyards and the sure and rigorous palate of its owner. That’s an unbeatable combination for wine greatness anywhere in the world.” -Matt Kramer/New York Sun and Wine Spectator
“Though I tasted them non-blind, I thought all of them were exciting--exhibiting excellent focus, depth, balance and concentration--and felt they had the potential to score outstanding.” -James Laube/Wine Spectator
Our Fall offering includes 3 different 2004 Pinot Noirs, our first estate Chardonnay and the 2003 Alesia Sonoma Coast Syrah. For more details and ordering instructions, click or type www.rhysvineyards.com/order. Please note that the remaining 2004 Pinots and Syrahs will be released in the Spring of 2007.
The 2004 vintage in California started perfectly for grape growing. Dry spring conditions set the stage for terrific concentration, while mild summer temperatures helped retain precious aromatics. Throughout the season, Jason Jardine (Rhys GM/Winegrower) worked hard to perfectly balance the vines. This vineyard work combined with low yields (typically around 1 ton per acre) allowed many of our grapes to be picked before the ideal weather ended with an unprecedented 10-day heat wave that began on September 4th.
While it is always hard to generalize, the 2004 wines at Rhys are best described as ripe, concentrated, balanced, aromatic and age-worthy. More importantly, each wine is quite distinctive and we hope you enjoy the vineyard-based differences as much as we do. While these wines can be approached now, they will benefit from cellaring for an additional 5 to 10+ years. For your reference, our website provides up-to-date tasting notes and recommended drinking windows.
While we are happy with the quality of our 2004 and 2005 wines, we are disappointed that we will not be able to offer all of our wines to all of our new customers. Back in 2004, we did not anticipate the number of people that would be interested in Rhys and some of our wines have production as low as 280 bottles. To make matters worse, in 2005 the Spring frost and late June rains conspired to eliminate the majority of our Rhys production. Our long term goal is to please all of our customers but until the 2006 vintage is released, we must ask for your patience and understanding. In the meantime, please make sure and use the website’s Wish List functionality. It is very likely that we can fill some of these requests. In order to secure your allocation please order prior to October 1.
Rhys and Alesia
Many people have asked “What is the difference between Rhys and Alesia?” Our Rhys (pronounced “Reese”) wines are all estate managed. Each vineyard site, block and vine is the result of careful planning and has been farmed with an organic and biodynamic methodology from the very beginning. We use Alesia (pronounced “A-leez-ee-a”) to designate our wines made from non-estate vineyards. Our Alesia vineyards are all contracted “by the acre”, many of the same rigorous vineyard practices are applied, and the wines are made with the same care as our Rhys estate wines. In these first vintages, we will offer more Alesia wines than Rhys. This situation will reverse in 2006 and 2007 and we hope to have plenty of Rhys wines to offer in the future.
Rhys Vineyards has some very exciting vineyards coming into production in 2006 and 2007. Our Alpine Road Vineyard is in full production (1.25-1.5 tons/acre) this year and is looking better than we could have hoped, with perfect cluster morphology and canopy balance. After installing frost protection in the spring of 2006, we have our first full crop (2.2 tons/acre) at our Family Farm Vineyard and we are seeing some pent-up energy after frost eliminated much of the crop in 2005. Meanwhile, the young vines at both Horseshoe Ranch and Skyline Vineyard are working hard to produce a little taste in 2007 and a full crop in 2008. By 2008, we hope to be able to fully demonstrate the unique character produced by the 5 different soils and 3 distinct climates of our Santa Cruz Mountain estate vineyards.
While we are happy with our first wines, we are even more excited about what the future holds for Rhys. Each passing year the vineyards become more mature and we better understand how to unlock their unique characteristics and qualities. This continued fine-tuning should allow us to aim higher and higher with each vintage.
We hope you join us for the journey!
Kevin, Jason, and Jeff