by Fred McMillin
Winery of the Week
Happy Birthday, Charlemagne
Charlemagne, born April 2, 742 A.D., was a huge man. Regarding viticulture, both in Germany and in Bordeaux, he ordered vines planted on slopes that faced south, to maximize exposure to the sun.
The Rest of the Story
I know another huge man who likes south-facing vineyards. SIZE: He's a former All-Conference basketball center (Gonzaga U.). SLOPES: "My Grenache comes from some neat vineyards whose slopes face south."
The similarity of vineyard sites is even greater. Charlemagne picked slopes on the north side of rivers, so the sunlight intensity would be increased by reflection off the surface of the water. For example, in Germany, he spotted a hillside on the north side of the Rhine River where the snow melted first due to that additional sunlight.
The Grenache grows on the north side of the Columbia River in Washington State. Which leads us to our Winemaker and Winery of the Week. He is Jed Steele and the label is Shooting Star (which Jed was at Gonzaga!)
Charlemagne's Pick of the Century: Legend says that the spot on the Rhine Charlemagne selected became the site of Germany's most famous vineyard, Johannisberg Riesling. One of those who endorsed Charlemagne's pick was a vintner with a familiar last name, Peter Arnold Mumm. He purchased the entire 1811 vintage!
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