Syrah in California - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Syrah in California


The winter of 2019 was relatively dry but concluded with rain and cool temperatures in spring, which delayed budbreak and lengthened the season considerably. The summer was warm and dry, with most growers reporting abundant, balanced yields, with good acidity and slightly heavier cluster weights owing to the spring rains, and harvest dates two to three weeks later than in 2018. The long hang time seemed to lend weight and depth to Rhône-variety wines in 2019, with plenty of mature tannins. The wines will be long-lived; if you drink now, have a decanter on hand.


After several years of drought-affected vintages, 2018 reflected some familiar pre-drought ripening patterns. The season began with replenishing February rains and a cool spring. That coolness extended into the early summer months, especially in the Central Coast, until a warm August accelerated ripening, resulting in what many called an exceptional vintage, with higher than normal yields. Higher acids from the vintage result in wines that retain their youth and inner tension, vibrant now, with the stuff to age.

Click here to return to the Regional Tasting Report on US syrah & Rhône varieties.

Patrick J. Comiskey covers US wines for Wine & Spirits magazine, focusing on the Pacific Northwest, California’s Central Coast and New York’s Finger Lakes.

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