by Fred McMillin
for May 6, 1997

A 365-Acre Adventure

Prologue: "An exception to any rule of California winemaking is the 2,300-foot-high Renaissance Vineyard in the low Sierras. The benefit of this truly mountainous vineyard...with high daytime temperatures and nights in the 50 degree range, is that bunches hang on the vines for 110 to 115 days until they are all absolutely ripe... producing wines of great individuality, including the Sauvignon Blanc"...by Steve Spurrier in "Decanter"

The Rest of the Story: French-trained winemaker Gideon Beinstock is like a kid in a candy store. "We're learning as fast as we can about the tastes imparted by variations in soil and microclimates...how that little fold of earth from the oak tree down produces a different spice in the grapes...or more depth." Actually, depth is not a problem in this lean red soil. He says he's getting rich, sturdy, intense wines. At their best, they're majestic, at worst, overpowering."

To find out what's going on in Gideon's lab, start with the Sauvignon Blanc. It has plenty of pizzaz imparted by that red soil and those unique temperature swings.

1994 Sauvignon Blanc, Appellation—North Yuba, CA
Renaissance Vineyard and Winery
Oregon House, CA (80 miles northeast of Sacramento)
Ph: (916) 692-3104

Category: Recommended, particularly with herbed chicken dishes.

Postscript: Some years ago at a trade tasting I was seated next to a cordial Texan who told me about his winery's first harvest in 1978. It took 20 minutes and made one barrel of white wine. The Texan turned out to be James Bryant, the first president of Renaissance. Today's harvest takes a bit longer, since production now exceeds 35,000 cases a year from the 365 acres of hillside vines.

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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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