Ironstone Vineyards: A tale of two California regions

Ironstone Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery in California. Their winery facility is located in the Sierra Foothills. They grow grapes there and in the Lodi region. In total, they have more than 8,000 acres planted in a multitude of crops, with more than 4,000 under vine. Their wide-ranging portfolio offers a taste of both varieties that immediately spring to mind when you think of the region: Petite Sirah, as well as less obvious ones like Cabernet Franc. Prices start at $12 and range up to $75. I recently tasted through quite a few of their current releases with a member of the Kautz family while I was attending ProWein in Düsseldorf, Germany. In short, there is a ton to like there. Their wines are fairly priced, delicious and show genuine characteristics of the varieties in question, as well as a sense of the place they were each grown. Here’s a look at my favorites from that tasting.


Ironstone Vineyards 2014 Chenin Blanc ($12)

Ironstone’s Chenin Blanc is composed entirely of the namesake grape. All of the fruit came from the Lodi region. Orchard fruit and white flower aromas light up the welcoming nose. The moment you take a sip, the super-soft mouth-feel envelops your senses. Lots of gentle pear, apricot and lychee fruit flavors are present. White pepper and a hint of nutmeg are on the mellifluous finish. This wine is perfectly suited to pair with light foods, but it’s also remarkably delicious on its own. This is spring and/or summer in a glass.

Ironstone Vineyards 2013 Reserve Viognier ($18)

This wine is composed mostly of Viognier (90 percent) with a dollop of Chardonnay (10 percent) blended in. It was produced from Estate fruit grown on their Sierra Foothills property. Yellow peach and apricot aromas fill the welcoming nose here. The palate is loaded with stone fruit flavors, spices and hints of papaya. Hints of crème fraiche are at play alongside continued yellow fruits and hints of spice on the long, balanced finish. Some Viogniers are too forward, too fruity and almost sweet. This particular example is remarkably balanced and delicious; it’s also impressive for its price point.


Ironstone Vineyards 2014 Petite Sirah ($12)

In addition to Petite Sirah (95 percent), a splash of Syrah (5 percent), was blended in. After fermentation, it spent two months aging in French oak. For a multitude of reasons, Petite Sirah is one of my favorite grapes. The dark, brooding aromas and flavors it typically shows are one reason; its ability to age well for a long time when well-produced in a proportionate manner is another. Violet and plum aromas abound on the nose alongside bits of cinnamon and clove. The palate is stuffed with juicy black and purple fruit flavors. Earth and bits of dark chocolate dot the persistent finish. Firm acid and somewhat burly tannins provide nice structure. At around $12, this is a solid value in Petite Sirah.

Ironstone Vineyards 2011 Reserve Cabernet Franc ($28)

This wine is composed entirely of Cabernet Franc grown on the Estate property in the Sierra Foothills. Aging took place over 24 months in a combination of French and American oak. Bits of savory herbs, cherry and hints of boysenberry are all present on the substantial nose here. Leather, black and red cherry flavors, wisps of red raspberry and more are present on the layered palate. Dusty cocoa and chicory are in evidence on the above-average finish. This is a fine example of Cabernet Franc which will drink well over the next six to eight years.

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