Labels denote a unique time and sense of place, in this case announcing the 2013 vintage of Lucia wines from Garys’ Vineyard. You can find the Santa Lucia Highlands on a map, with Garys’ Vineyard slicing across part of its benchland. But you must open a bottle to discover the exceptional aspects of this site and the distinctive caring that have shaped these Pinot Noir and Syrah wines.
Gaze at Garys’ Vineyard with its manicured rows of vines, and you may swear that they all look alike—ribbons of verdant swaths rather than 47,916 individual plants with unique needs.
Mark Pisoni knows every single one of them.
From pruning in the dead of winter through the excitement of fall harvest, he must make decisions every day in the best interest of the vines that he tends at Garys’, Soberanes and Pisoni Vineyards. Each vineyard site, its blocks and vines have distinct characteristics and requirements.
Continuing the multi-generational farming legacy of their forbearers, Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni teamed up to create Garys’ Vineyard on land that had been trampled by cattle for decades. Mark notes how much the soil differs from the mountainous Pisoni Vineyards, where he cut his viticulturist teeth. At Garys’ Vineyard, some of the vines plunge their roots straight down into the sandy loam soil, whereas the roots of the Pinot Noir plants at the lower section of the 50-acre site must weave in and out of river rock searching for nutrients. These differences affect how the vines grow and Mark’s decision-making on irrigation and other farming practices.
Leaves perfectly shield some Pinot Noir clusters from sun exposure like huge outdoor umbrellas. But spirited Syrah vines require more leaf removal to balance and keep the plants in check. Although a vertical shoot position system trains most of the vines upward, those in the rocky section require a modified trellis to allow for more dappled sunlight. Depending upon vine balance, Mark and his vineyard team might adjust yields by dropping three grape clusters from one plant and removing only one cluster on the next. Each vine requires personal attention.
Winemaker Jeff Pisoni takes the same approach: One practice never fits all at the winery. Some grape clusters go straight into a tank to ferment “whole cluster,” while others are first stripped of their stems. Tanks may be drained into identical-looking barrels, but they may have different markings, be constructed of oak sourced from different forests in France, and have staves of varying degrees of toast.
Decisions about farming, yields, fermentation and barrels are fine-tuned daily according to the unique character of Garys’ Vineyard and its fruit.
The 2013 Lucia Garys’ Vineyard wines reveal the distinctive sense of place and caring that crafted them.
Lucia Garys' Vineyard Selections
Pretty, complex, and deep. The 2013 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir is a dark garnet color. Vibrant aromas of fresh, muddled raspberries, dried rose petal, forest floor and Earl Grey tea swirl around in the glass. On the palate the wine is broad with a firm and long-lasting texture. The season was cool, long and dry—a combination that made the vines work extra hard and led to a higher concentration of flavor, tannin and acidity. The wine drinks wonderfully now and will age for a decade.
Crushed rocks and violets. Such contrasting objects but such insight into the wine profile. The 2013 Garys’ Vineyard Syrah displays the mineral component of wet or crushed stones but has the high-tone and pure floral expression of violets—with other more subtle fruit undertones. On the palate the wine is richly layered, long lasting and filled with dense tannins that will be exciting to watch evolve over many years.