A family obsession given new life
Our family has shared a passion for the ethereal wines of the Northern Rhône since we first began sharing them with each other. The formidable and sacred hill of Hermitage, the roasted slopes of Côte Rôtie, and the granite-inlaid hills of Cornas have long dominated our Sunday dinner discussions. When Kyle Gellis began making wine in the Napa Valley, he kept one eye out for a Syrah vineyard worthy of the Northern Rhône wines his family loved so much. The search was long, and futile – until a friend casually mentioned over a bottle at dinner that he should seek out Las Madres. The rest is history.
Pure cool-climate Syrah
Known in a growing number of circles as “the To Kalon of Syrah vineyards,” the windswept Las Madres Vineyard nestles into the foggy hillsides of the Carneros AVA’s Sonoma County portion. Literally translating to "The Mothers," the vineyard’s name honors the two owners' matriarchs, and the site’s two distinct blocks bear their first names. Hulda Block is planted entirely to earthy, well-structured Syrah clone 174, while Esther provides the dense fruit core with clone 300.
Farming at Las Madres is a labor of love that never ceases. Annual cover crops provide healthy organic matter to the soils, and meticulous suckering, leaf-pulling and hands-on vineyard management all year focus the vines on their challenge: ripening Syrah in an area better known for Chardonnay. The vineyard’s bowl-shaped topography captures the cool, moist air from nearby San Pablo Bay, which slows down sugar accumulation and enables luxurious hang time well into the fall. Rows are oriented east to west, so the relentless westerly winds can flow through without knocking over the vines. All of these details make Las Madres the cool-climate site our family had been searching for.
The style and structure of wines born of these Haire clay loam soils are remarkably similar to our Northern Rhône inspiration. Generous blue fruit and savory, meaty complexity build on the vine as the clusters inch toward ripeness – never losing their natural freshness and energy.
Our family’s homage to the Northern Rhône can only be forged through laser focus and commitment to absolute perfection at every stage. This is our Grand Vin methodology: Only the best of the best is acceptable – the most expressive terroir, the most charismatic fruit, the finest French oak, and the utmost attention to detail in handling it all. No detail is too small, and no effort too great. Our Syrah is truly a Grand Vin in its own right.