Holly’s Hill is completely focused on producing Rhone varietal wines and blends. In fact, the estate vineyards are composed entirely of Rhone varieties including Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Counoise. The winery produces varietal wines, a dry Rosé, and red and white blends. The enthusiasm for Rhone varieties at Holly’s Hill started when Tom and Holly Cooper (owners) shared their first bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape on their honeymoon. It’s been a love affair ever since. When the Coopers decided to plant their vineyard, it was an easy decision. Especially since the clones of Chateau de Beaucastel, one of the finest Chateauneuf du Pape houses, had recently become available. These new clones including Grenache from Chateau Rayas have proved to be much better than what was previously available in California.
The Rhone Varieties Planted at Holly’s Hill Vineyards
The white version of Grenache Noir (think Pinot Blanc to Pinot Noir). It makes beautiful wines with nice mouth feel and distinct anise aromatics along with pleasant fruit. Grenache Blanc was grafted from Syrah at Holly's Hill to be used in the Patriarche Blanc blend. We like it for its low alcohol, high acidity and anise qualities.
Picpoul loosely translates to lip stinger in French because of its tendency to hold onto its bright acidity. At Holly’s Hill, it is used in the Patriarche Blanc blend to add complexity and crisp acidity.
Roussanne gets its name from the russet color the skins develop when the grapes ripen. It makes a wine with great fruit aromatics and minerality. One of the few white varieties that can age gracefully, Roussanne is often blended with Marsanne in the northern Rhone and many other Rhone varieties in the south. At Holly's Hill, Roussanne goes into three different bottlings at Holly's Hill. It makes up the largest percentage of the Patriarche Blanc, is bottled on its own and is also made into a dessert styled Late Harvest Roussanne.
Strangely a very rare variety in France and yet a widely planted Rhone variety in California. It produces wines with rich tropical aromatics and distint floral qualities. Viognier is our best selling white variety. It is planted at the very bottom of the vineyards and is prone to spring frosts. A small amout is also blended in the white Patriarche Blanc.
Carignane produces rich wines with great color and structure. At Holly's Hill, this is a recent addition to our winemaking. Look forward to the first releases coming out soon!
Cinsaut is an ancient variety that produces large grapes resembling black olives and was once used as table fruit. It is delicious to eat right off the vine and also makes distinctive wines with red fruits and spice. At Holly's Hill, this is a recent addition to our winemaking. Look forward to the first releases coming out soon!
One of the lesser known Rhone varieties, Counoise produces wines of great texture and pure aromas of cherries and white pepper spice. The color is often slightly darker than Grenache with nice acidity. Rarely seen on its own, the variety hails from Chateauneuf du Pape where Chateau de Beaucastel uses more of it in its blends than do most wineries in that region. With the addition of more Counoise acreage, a varietal bottling has been added to the line up.
Bright red fruits such as strawberries and cherries dominate the aromatics of this lighter red wine. It can be very round in the mouth however with firm tannins. Spices such as licorice and pretty aromas of lavendar and other flowers can also add to the finesse of this wine. The varietal bottling is our best selling wine.
Grenache is bottled as both a red wine and a dry rosé wine. It also is blended with other Rhone varieties such as the Patriarche blend. Only a small volume of Grenache is used in this blend working much like spice in food to bring out the aromatics and complexities.
Expect aromas of blueberries, blackberries and spice. Also of note are leathery, gamey qualities making Mourvedre very unique and interesting. Tannins can be medium to big and the mouthfeel is usually big and round. At Holly's Hill, Mourvedre is felt to be the best variety suited to the site at the vineyard. On its own, the Mourvedre is very dark (almost as dark as the Syrah) and displays varietal aromatics of fruit and earth. In addition to the estate planting. The estate Mourvedre is bottled on its own and also forms the foundation of the Patriarche (the winery's take on Chateauneuf du Pape). The Mourvedre Classique is a lighter, fruitier version.
An often confusing variety to consumers as it is neither Syrah nor little as the name suggests. It's a cross of two varieties (Syrah and Peloursin) that makes huge wines with dark color, big tannins and nice jammy fruit. It is a true friend to the winemaker.
Petite Sirah was grafted on Syrah vines here at Holly's Hill to be used for blending with lighter colored varieties like Grenache. However, it has become very popular bottled on its own.
Dark color and big tannins are the hallmark of Syrah. Aromas are of dark berries and jam along with smoke and spices. In the mouth Syrah is often big and mouthfilling. You'll see this bottled on its own or making up the backbone and adding to the longevity to blends. At Holly's Hill, Syrah was the first varietal planted on the hill. The winery produces three different bottlings of varietal Syrah...two estate bottlings called Hill Top and East Slope and a two vineyard blend called Wylie-Fenaughty picked from two vineyards north of the winery. Syrah is also very important to the Chateauneuf du Pape inspired blend the Patriarche, making up the second largest percentage just behind Mourvedre.