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by Fred McMillin
for March 1, 2000


The Wrong Name: Women & Wine

The Wrong Name—Women

This is a true story. My friends, the Svadolos, decided their two fine sons might be handicapped in America with such a last name. So they went through the legal process of changing their name to Best.

The next week their happy mother was downtown shopping and bumped into a former neighbor she hadn't seen in several years. It went like this...

Neighbor: "Mrs. Svadolo, it's wonderful to see you again."
Mrs. S.: "No, no. I'm not Mrs. Svadolo. I'm now Mrs. Best."
Neighbor: ---pause--- "Oh, good. Frankly, I never DID like your FIRST husband."

The Wrong Name—Wine

EOS Winery This is a true story. About 1880 in the southern Rhone Valley, French botanist Dr. Francois Durif (also spelled Duriff) propagates a variety that still bears his name. What has that to do with California's Petite Syrah??

  • "California's Petite Sirah has now been identified as Durif." (Schoonmaker Wine Encyclopedia, 1988)
  • "The correct name for Petite Sirah in California is Duriff." (Noted wine historian Charles Sullivan's Like Modern Edens, 1982)
  • "California's Petite Sirah is the little-known Durif of the Midi." (Master of Wine Jancis Robinson in Vines, Grapes and Wines, 1986)

    So, another name for Petite Sirah is Durif?? WRONG! Critic Bob Thompson summed it up this way in 1993, "Genetic tests have proved the Petite is not the Duriff."

    OK, OK. So here's the name of our Wine of the Day.

    1996 Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, (888) EOS-WNRY, FAX (805) 239-2317
    Winery—EOS (Eos was the Greek goddess of the dawn, appropriately sister to Helios [sun] and Selene [moon]).
    Vineyard - EOS 187 acres of Paso Robles vines includes 23 acres of Duri--oops--Petite Sirah.
    Panel's Comments—Nice wine, pronounced oak, good spice.


    Greek: Ampelos-vine; Graphe-writing. Hence, ampelography is the science of identifying grape varieties. The first comprehensive works were published by the French about a century ago. However, methods have been relatively primitive until the recent advent of such advanced techniques as DNA fingerprinting. So, we can all be prepared for many suprises as the results come in. For example, as I write this, I hear that some California Petite, not all, may actually be Duriff. Stay tuned.

    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


    This page created March 2000