Heritage: Something that is handed down from the past, it is much more than but includes preserving, it is both tangible and intangible. Commonly associated with heritage is legacy; something handed down or received from an ancestor or predecessor.
In terms of world history, the California wine industry is quite young. It is believed the industry was born in 1769, when Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra brought settlers from Mexico to San Diego. As such they needed sacramental wine so they planted the first vineyards in the state of California. From that time forward the wine industry in California steadily prospered, even overcoming the phylloxera outbreak, until the adoption of Prohibition in 1916. With Prohibition not ending until 1933, it would stand to reason no one would open a winery during those years, but someone did…
In 1927, Giovanni Pedroncelli Sr decided to purchase a vineyard and small winery in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Until the repeal of Prohibition John Sr kept the doors open by selling grapes to locals for the making of homemade wines. In 1934, he and his wife Julia began making wine. As time passed son John became the winemaker in 1948, and his brother Jim joined him as sales manager in 1955. Under John and Jim’s supervision the winery thrived and expanded to national sales. The 1990’s saw the involvement of the third generation; Jim’s daughters Julie, Cathy, Lisa, and Joanna, alongside Ed St. John and lance Blakely, Jueli and Lisa’s respected husbands, and John’s children Richard and Maureen. This powerful third generation has various roles, working hands on and side by side John and Jim to continue to honor the family’s heritage.
This year Pedroncelli Winery celebrates their 90th year as a family owned and operated winery in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. For four generations Pedroncelli has been “quietly crafting authentic wines at incredibly reasonable prices.” The key to their success: “tight-knit family and farming their own vines in the greatest spot to grow grapes.”
“Pedroncelli wines are made with food, friends, and family in mind. California wines with an Old World twist. They pair as nicely with food as they do with a glass.” ~ Pedroncelli Wines
I have been invited to participate in Pedroncelli’s 90th birthday celebration by joining in four virtual tastings held throughout the year. Here are my tasting notes on the three wines highlighted in the first virtual tasting.
2015 Pedroncelli Chardonnay Dry Creek Valley USA ($15): This wine poured a clear, pale lemon in the glass; clean, medium aromas of green fruit, lemon, pineapple, and nutmeg; medium+ acidity and body, long mouth-watering finish, well-balanced with a creamy texture with an accent of oak balanced with a firm backbone of penetrating acidity; really nice.
2014 Pedroncelli Mother Clone Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley USA ($18): 100% Zinfandel; This wine poured a clear, deep ruby into the glass; clean medium aromas of blackberries, black raspberries, plums, candied violets, sweet spice, tobacco, dark chocolate, pepper, toasted walnuts and dried herbs; medium acidity tannins, body, and finish; a smoky wine that was round and youthful with loads of spice on top a bed of fresh black fruit that coated the palate in a silky mouth-feel with a pleasing finish.
2014 Pedroncelli Family Vineyards Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley USA ($18): 92% Petite Sirah, 8% Zinfandel; This wine poured a clear medium ruby into the glass; clean medium aromas of blackberries, cherries, dried red flowers, dried savory herbs, Chinese 5 Spice, damp tobacco leaves, damp underbrush, toasted walnuts and a medicinal note; medium+ acidity and tannins, medium body and finish; layers of flavors and textures wrap the palate in a pleasing mouth-feel, well-balanced, elegant yet strong.
My overall reflection of these three wines were they all over-delivered for their prices. I commented on the virtual tasting I found the hallmark of all three wines to be “elegantly balanced.” Ed St. John shared with me that Pedroncelli actually means elegantly balanced in Italian. I declare they are certainly living up to their name!
Like any good Italian family, Pedroncelli embraces food and wine pairings. As such along with these wines they sent us all a recipe to prepare to accompany the wines. The recipe, Parmesan Polenta with Sausage Ragu, was quick, easy, and delicious! Of course I made a couple alterations to the recipe but nothing significant. I included ½ lb mild and spicy Italian sausage, and I made a cauliflower polenta (3 parts cauliflower ground in a food processor, to 1 part polenta) because my family does not like plain polenta but strangely does enjoy cauliflower polenta. I used yellow cauliflower so it looks like 100% polenta but the taste is lighter. Though I thoroughly enjoyed all three wines we found the Petite Sirah to be our favorite pairing with the polenta and sausage dinner.
Based on this the quality of these three Pedroncelli wines I am already looking forward to the next virtual tasting event to celebrate their 90th birthday! Stay tuned.
My Song Selection: Yay, I went there, you know you love it!
Get your own bottles of Pedroncelli wines and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!