“With energy, elegance and equilibrium, their wines speak profoundly and consistently of the future of Rhone Valley varieties in California.” — Mike Dunne
In the 1980s, California Rhone pioneers Bonny Doon, Joseph Phelps, Sierra Vista (our neighbor), Edmunds St. John and others, began popularizing the marketing of the Rhône varietals. Their success helped to revive plantings of many traditional Rhône grapes that were dying out in California like Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier. Syrah also saw a dramatic increase in plantings after Estrella River Winery planted it with success and made its clone available to other interested growers. Beginning around 1990, a second wave of innovation in the Rhone Rangers movement began, which included investment and grapevine cuttings from the Rhone itself, as Château de Beaucastel entered into a partnership with American wine importer Robert Haas to found Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles. Tablas Creek imported new clones of many of the 13 varieties allowed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is these clones along with the famed Grenache from California’s Alban Vineyards that we planted our own Rhone variety vineyard in the Sierra Foothills of California.
Although the winery is in California, Holly's Hill wines have a distinctive old world flair. Emphasis is placed on the fruit itself and interventions throughout the aging process are infrequent and minor. Only French oak is used and preferably neutral barrels without the vanilla, astringency and tannins of new barrels. Carrie and Josh also use larger volume casks as it has been done in the Rhone Valley of France for centuries. The wines are only racked if needed allowing for further concentrations of flavors to develop from the lees at the bottom of the barrels. White wines generally spend about six months in barrels and reds eleven months. Syrah on the other hand ages for up to two years before bottling. The Patriarche blend is the first wine put together each year getting only the best lots of estate fruit.
Holly’s Hill is “…one of the Sierra Foothills region's top performers with Rhône varietals." — Wine Enthusiast Magazine