Glenn Hugo, the winemaker at Girard Winery in Calistoga visits California Wine Country with Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger today. Tom Simoneau is also here today. Before working in wine production, Glenn worked in the restaurant industry. He travelled around the country to open restaurants and one of his jobs was to write wine lists. He married and moved to Napa 20 years ago where he learned winemaking from many mentors in the business.
First, they taste the 2021 Girard Chardonnay from Carneros. They decided to use the term “Los Carneros” so as not to favor Napa or Sonoma since they have estate vineyards in both counties. The family grew grapes for a long time and sold them to other winemakers. When they saw those wines win awards, they decided to start making wine themselves. They are located in Calistoga, in a place that Tom Simoneau describes as beautiful and stunning. They are open for tastings by appointment.
Dan Berger got to know Steve Girard very well when he founded the property in the 1980s. It was a very rugged place at first. They used to make dry Chenin Blanc. The brand was off the market for a few years before they started rebuilding it after 2000.
Two Ways to Make Zinfandel
Next they taste a Zinfandel, blended from various vineyards. The two main ones are in Southeast Napa, about 50 year old vines, and Calistoga vines are about 100 years old. He likes the combination of those two. They each bring something. They use a combination of American, French and Hungarian oak. Dan says Zinfandel does not need a lot of aging and the higher alcohol ones don’t age well. Tom says you lose the warm blackberry fruit flavors of Zinfandel which it will lose if it ages too long. There is a difference between wines made for the cellar versus wines made to be opened after 3-4 years.
Glenn started working at Provenance Winery for Tom Rinaldi, an influential winemaker in the Rutherford AVA of Napa Valley. He describes a mocha powder note in the fruit that comes from there.
Glenn also brought a field blend to taste. They are not sure exactly which varieties are in it.