In the year 1883, Chester A. Arthur was president, LIFE published its first issue, and James Concannon established Concannon Vineyard in the rocky soil of the Livermore Valley, just outside San Francisco, California. There, Mr. Concannon started one of the founding families of California winemaking, fulfilling his dream of making Bordeaux and Rhone style wines. In time, Concannon Vineyard would become seminal in the development of new Cabernet clones, which helped to replant the Napa Valley.
Generations later, Concannon Vineyard planted and bottled America’s first Petite Sirah varietal, which until that time had been employed mainly as a blending wine.
The rocky soil and unique climate of the Livermore Valley ensured that the Petite Sirah would flourish. Since then, Concannon Vineyard has gone on to produce exceptional wines from this novel vine, and the growing popularity of the varietal has encouraged the planting of over 7,500 acres of Petite Sirah, 95 percent of which are located in California.
The Petite Sirah grape is remarkable for the high ratio of grape skin to juice in relation to the small size of its berry (hence the name “Petite”). This results in a tannic wine noted for its spicy plum flavor. Data collected on varietal popularity shows that Petite Sirah is one of the fastest-growing varietals in the industry today. Last year, Petite Sirah grew in favorability by over 11 percent—four times the rate of any other varietal on the market!
The year 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of Concannon Vineyard’s inaugural bottling of the Petite Sirah varietal, and we are justly proud of its continuing contribution to the development of viticulture in America. In fact, we recently completed a $30 million quality enhancement initiative to enhance winemaking heritage and practices, as well as to encourage technological advancements to preserve wine quality.
A special two-day public celebration at the historic winery is planned for August 13 &14, 2011, and will include vertical tastings of Petite Sirah, cooking/pairing demonstrations and unique Petite Sirah products such as chocolates, chocolate sauce and ice cream. There will also be live music and other activities! The Underdog Wine Bar located in Concannon’s Tasting Room will offer a new Petite Sirah wine flight honoring Concannon’s Conservancy, Reserve and Heritage wines, and small plate menu items such as “braised short ribs in Concannon Selected Vineyard Petite Sirah,” along with additional menu pairings.
After four generations of family leadership, Concannon Vineyard can rightly take its place on the forefront of American viticulture. There is every expectation that our family will continue to develop the art and science of winemaking to the delight and benefit of the public.