by Fred McMillin
for March 14, 1997
Winery of the Week
From Rubber Stamps to Golden Grapes
Prologue: "James Concannon, born in County Galway, Ireland, brought his bride to San Francisco in 1875. Here he pioneered the rubber stamp business for the whole Pacific Coast, including Mexico.. which by 1883 enabled him to buy a farm in the Livermore Valley and plant vines." —From John Melville's "Guide to California Wines."
The Rest of the Story: Among the vines James planted was the varietal that would be the winery's key to success, Petite Sirah. His descendants
But on to the 1990's. The most important event at the winery occurred in the spring of 1992; energetic, savvy Tom Lane took over the winemaking. At the time he told me he was making some exciting changes in wine styles. My tasters found the massive Petites were ready to drink younger. His '95 Pinot Blanc is a pleasant suprise, too. It has a LOT of character... a Chardonnay with muscle. Speaking of Chardonnay, none was being sold during my 1965 visit, but Tom turns out some classy models now. My Scott's panel gave high marks to his 1994 Reserve Chardonnay from the Hayes Ranch in the Livermore Valley. Like his other wines, this one has ALL the active ingredients....made for chargrilled salmon. So, you get the picture. There's a dynamic, aggressive winemaking program underway. It certainly would get James Concannon's STAMP of approval!
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