Wine of the Week: Esfuerzo, Grenache Noir 2019 | Santa Ynez Valley, California

By Dirk Smits

Grenache Noir | April 4, 2022

Grenache Noir is a Spanish grape varietal imported to France in the Middle-Ages. There it is grown in Languedoc, the Rhône Valley and in Provence. It is now one of the most widely planted grape varietals in the world after Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is grown in Spain, Italy, California, Argentina, South Africa and Australia. Coming from the same family as Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir has the same characteristics: planted on dry and stony soils, it is very productive, and its clusters, quite rich in berries, give a very sweet juice. Its wines are rather strong in alcohol and low in acid; they release a profusion of black fruits such as prunes or figs underlined by notes of cocoa, coffee and spices.

The valleys of Santa Barbara Wine Country provide a unique variety of micro-climates and terrains, resulting in one of the most diverse grape growing areas in the world. The valleys run an unusual west-east rather than north-south, and both the coastal Santa Ynez mountain range and the interior San Rafael range are transverse as well. Seven American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) lie within the region of Santa Barbara County Santa Maria Valley, California’s second oldest AVA is located most north with distinct climate and soil. Santa Ynez Valley is an overlying AVA which is then broken down into four sub-AVAs: Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District and Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara. Alisos Canyon is their newest AVA and is located at the doorsteps of Los Alamos.

Santa Ynez is a long, east-west valley with very cool temperatures on the coast that become progressively warmer inland. Consequently, several varietals do well, from Pinot Noir in the west to Cabernet and Merlot in the east. Several Rhône varietals such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Roussanne and Viognier also thrive in the Santa Ynez.

The Flores and Zepeda family grape growing tradition began over three decades ago with Salvador Zepeda, Fidencio Flores’ great-grandfather. Salvador was the first to cultivate grapes for the Firestone family in 1974. His son, Armando Zepeda, planted the first vines in Buttonwood Vineyards in 1983. Ever since, Armando has been Grape Master. Through hard work and esfuerzo (effort in English), the Flores and Zepeda family have mastered the craft of winemaking and become essential to Solvang and Santa Barbara wine country.

Watch our exclusive video interview of Alison Laslett, CEO of Santa Barbara Vintners Association.

Origin: Santa Ynez Valley, California
Varietal: 100% Grenache Noir
Sustainability: sustainable practices
Suggested retail price: $36.00
ABV: 14%

The wine shows a vibrant ruby color and aromas of ripe plum, pomegranate and cherry with a hint of spice. It is fruity, smooth-textured with ripe, fine tannins offering depth and length.

Suggested food pairings: grilled meats and vegetables, meat stews, meatloaf, cheeses.

> For more information, visit the Esfuerzo Wines official website.