How not to die!! An odd beginning to a winery story, but let me explain. Recently I was at David Girard Vineyards which is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills above Coloma-Lotus Valley where gold was discovered in 1848. While tasting several delightful wines, Rod Gideons, our host for the day, mentioned a quote by David Eagleman stating “There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.” Okei who came over from Japan was a nanny for the prominent Veerkamp family. She longed for her homeland in Japan and often went to a nearby hill and watched the sunset knowing it was going to be a new day shortly in Japan. She came over when she was 17 and unfortunately died at age 19 in 1871. Okei asked to be buried on that hill facing east. She is the first know Japanese to be buried on American soil. She is revered as personifying the immigrant spirit and is a popular folk hero here and in Japan. A Japanese melody laments her early death according to the Japanese community. So with that in mind, David Girard Vineyards being in the same area, wanted to immortalize her by naming their flagship wine, Okei-san Syrah. And by continuing to mention her name, she will never die the third death!
David Girard Vineyards 85 acre estate incorporates approximately 50% in Rhone and Provence varietals. His wines include Vermentino, a Rose (Mourvedre, Counoise and Grenache blend), Mourvedre, Grenache, Rive D’Or (blend), Syrah and Port. These wines are the handcrafted work of Grayson Hartley. Grayson got his “wine education” as the Assistant Winemaker at Schramsberg in the mid-2000’s and learn his craft from the now prestigious Andy Erickson and John Kongsgaard.
The two standout wines of the day were the 2013 Grenache Reserve with a whole cluster soak which produce a peppery, bright and enticing Grenache. The second wine was their 2014 Dessert Wine (Ruby) which uses the Portuguese grape, Touriga Nacional which imparts a black fruit bouquet. Both of these outstanding wines are now in my cellar!!
The grounds are spectacular in design accommodating guests and club members, a beautiful scenery in the El Dorado foothills. Possessing the rolling vineyards, Grayson as the winemaker and David Girard at the helm, they will never face the third death as we will all be talking about them for years on end.
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