Making Rocks District Syrah

Using Grapes from the same vineyard, Billo Nazarene found a way to make two distinct wines that flaunt Walla Walla’s newest sub-AVA’s unique terroir.

Steve and Brooke Robertson, Billo Navarene

In the southwestern corner of Walla Walla’s newest sub-appellation, The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater, stands the SJR Vineyard. Home primarily to Syrah, but also Grenache and Viognier, the almost 8 planted acre site grows in the signature basalt cobbles and gravel that gave the sub-zone the moniker local vintners prefer, the Rocks.

The Rocks was registered as a recognized AVA in February 2015. Geologist Kevin Pogue articulated the appellation boundaries based almost entirely on its unique soil conditions, a basalt cobbled alluvial fan deposited by the Walla Walla River at the southern part of the valley. The stones of the Rocks District resemble those that made Chateauneuf du Pape famous, but unlike their French counterpart, the tumbled basalt boulders of The Rocks District can be found up to 600 feet deep. While the basalt has eroded to a shallow iron-rich topsoil in portions, the stones dominate the landscape throughout the sub-zone.

To keep reading, head on over to the Wine Business Monthly website where you can view this article in its entirety for free. It begins on page 30 of the November issue and digs into how Steve and Brooke Robertson (shown above left) have worked to fine-tune the farming quality of their SJR Vineyard while also working with winemaker Billo Navarene (shown above right) to dial in the unique style of their Delmas Syrah. At the same time Navarene has also made his own Rasa Syrah from the same site. The result is two utterly distinctive Walla Walla Syrahs that each clearly showcase the characteristics of the vineyard while still being unique from each other. 

This article is one of my favorite things I have written in a long while – the Robertsons and Navarene were incredibly generous with their time and willingness to share tips and techniques on vineyard improvement and every step of the winemaking for both wines. I feel privileged to have been able to share such an insider view to the wine growing and making process. 

Here’s the link to the article: 

http://bit.ly/2fan6lb

Cheers!

Leave a Reply