I was looking for a “local Grenache” for a Wine Society meeting and found one in Tuolumne County located in Jamestown, California. The big surprise was understanding their history and passion for Italian wines. It started in the late 1800’s with Giovani Rocca, who married into the Gianelli family. It was a good size plot of land outside of Jamestown which was used for cattle, a gold mining camp and a major stagecoach stop. Fast forward to 1980 and Ron Gianelli purchased the 53 acres of this 1427 foot elevation land from a relative and began thinking about how to farm it.
Ron researched endlessly how wine is produced in Italy. Armed with that knowledge, in 2003 he planted the first vineyard. This is where a typical winery and the Gianelli Vineyards go in a markedly different direction. Ron and Lorie Gianelli wanted to make their winery authentically Italian. So off to Verona to seek out equipment for farming, production techniques, rootstocks to filtration systems, etc. No detail was overlooked. The entire winery is set up like stepping back into Italy and so are the wines!
The wines in production and sale today are: 2014 Montepulciano Reserva, 2015 Petite Sirah, 2012 Nebbiolo, 2012 Grenache, 2012 Primitivo, 2014 Nino, 2012 Sangiovese Grosso, 2014 Bella Rosato and 2012 La Porta Del Paradisio. I want to mention 3 outstanding wines tasted during my visit – 2012 Nebbiolo, 2012 Primitivo and 2014 Montepulciano. All of these were tasted and presented at the historic tasting room on Main St in Jamestown.
The first was the 2012 Nebbiolo from northern Italy, my favorite Piedmonte wines. It had a unique cinnamon spice, with black cherry and strawberry. It was medium weight and very well balanced. The alcohol was 14.7%.
The second wine was the 2014 Montepulciano Reserva. This brought me back to Tuscany with its pointed cherry aromas, soft tannins and yet full body viscosity and flavors. This is the wine to have with a pasta dish and a red sauce. Alcohol was 13.9%. Oh and by the way, it won a Silver Medal at the SF Chronicle Wine Tasting in January 2018.
Lastly the 2015 Petite Sirah which was aged two years in old French oak barrels. This allow as they state to give it “inherently jammy notes of black cherry, dried red cherry, violets and plum while retaining a velvety structure”. The alcohol was 15%. While not one to collect Petite Sirah’s, this one will be going into my cellar shortly!
These three got my highest marks for completeness to their varietal heritage and taste. Every wine tasted was above average, but these stood out! The price range for these three wines were modestly price from $26 to $35. This might start another rush but instead of gold it will be a wine rush to Jamestown! Do not delay!
Per the FTC, any wine purchased from Gianelli Vineyards, was given an industry discount.