It's been said that Greg Graziano, owner of Graziano Family of Wines
, never met a grape he didn't love. The third-generation winemaker and winegrower has an unmistakable passion for handcrafting wine
. On any given day there are as many as 25 to 30 wines available for sampling in his tasting room. Greg uses Old World techniques such as whole-berry fermentation in open-top fermenters for red wines and barrel fermentation and sur-lie aging for both white wines and ros?ęs. And in the cellar, Greg barrel-ages his red wines an average of 6 to 24 months longer than most premium California wineries.
Since one can't make a great wine from inferior grapes, all of the fruit used in Graziano wines comes from local vineyards, grown by people who, like Greg, are passionate about what they do. Graziano specializes in Mediterranean-heritage grapes, including Sangiovese, Barbera, Dolcetto, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Old Vine Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio (Graziano was the first producer of this varietal in California), Cortese, Arneis, Chenin Blanc, and others.
The Graziano flagship wine, Zinfandel, Mendocino, was recently listed as the Number One Wine in North America for quality, flavor, and price by the major publication Wine Business Monthly in its Hot Small Brands of 2008. The review states: The Hot Small Brand list has always been about standing for something. Most of the wines represented here have achieved success by delivering on quality. Several represent seemingly overnight success stories that were years in the making.
We're looking for wines with good balance, tannins, and acidity, Greg says. We want the wines to be smooth and very complex we like the combination of earth, terroir, and fruit. This is in essence the Old World concept of artisanship and hands-on winemaking, and it still thriving in Mendocino County.
The tasting room and wine shop are conveniently located in the village of Hopland, right along Highway 101. There is no fee to taste, and most wines on the tasting list are available for less than $20 per bottle. The savvy wine tourer will allow plenty of time to sample and enjoy the entire Graziano Family of Wines.
What To Buy:
06 Graziano Zinfandel, Mendocino Black cherry, boysenberry, plum, spicy sandalwood, hints of toasty oak $17
06 St. Gregory Pinot Noir, Mendocino Ripe black cherries, plum, toasty oak, hints of earth $19
05 Monte Volpe Sangiovese Ripe raspberries, smoky cherry, spicy wood, earth $17
06 Enotria Barbera Juicy blackberries, Santa Rosa plums, hint of currant, coconut, toasty oak. $17
Located on the west side of Hwy 101 in the town of Hopland.