A decorative picture of John Kinney in the vineyard

Occasio’s rosé is full of cherry and strawberries, a glass of spring….

Virginie Boone – Napa Press Democrat

This quarter, we release three handcrafted wines of special importance to me: Rosé of Grenache (2018), Malbec (2015), and Merlot (2016).

2018 Founder’s Rosé of Grenache ($25)

For me, rosé is a harbinger of spring. A single sip, and the winter’s cold seems to vanish. I love its bright fruit and refreshing acidity. It is a wonderful wine for early spring and summer, and a perfect companion with almost any meal.

We take great care with our rosé. Hand crafted at every step, we harvest the fruit when the first blush of color appears in the skins and the acids are bright and fresh. We hand-harvest the fruit, sorting it at the vineyard and again at the winery before whole cluster pressing. The juice is allowed to remain in contact with the skins for a few hours until the colors and flavors are what we want. Then the juice is drawn off and fermented cold until dryness. Then we bottle it, early, to prevent oxidation and preserve freshness.

Grenache is the soul of our rosé. A sixteenth century Spanish varietal (Garnacha), this cultivar found a home in southern France where today it is the backbone of Chateauneuf de Pape and the main variety in the famous rosés of Tavel. But Grenache has found another home in Livermore Valley. Here, our milder climate preserves more of the fruit’s natural acidity and allows the skins to ripen without sunburn. Our milder climate and greater natural rainfall allow us to produce polished and fragrant wines distinct from their old-world counterparts.

2015 Heritage Malbec ($40)

A hundred years ago Malbec thrived in our valley. Now, only a few acres of this majestic variety remain, its ancient vineyards having been grafted over to more commercially popular wines.

I have always believed it was time that we renewed our love affair with this historic variety, and the 2015 vintage proves why. This is a dense and powerful wine filled with aromas of blackberry and pomegranate held together by refined tannins and balanced acidity. This wine will cellar nicely – perhaps best savored many years from now.

2016 Founder’s Merlot ($38)

The first recorded planting of Merlot in Livermore Valley was by Charles Wetmore from cuttings he obtained from Chateau Margaux, a first growth in the 1855 classification of Bordeaux. Over the past century, Livermore Valley’s reputation with the variety has grown.

All of the fruit for this wine came from Thatcher Bay Vineyard. Thatcher Bay has that rare outcropping of tillable clay soil considered ideal for growing merlot. Owner Scott Burkhart head-trains his vines to take advantage of both the soil and his unique southern exposure in the Altamont Hills. The more open canopy promotes even ripening and reduces pressures from pests and mildew. His sustainable vineyard practices consistently produce balanced fruit with excellent acidity and tannin ripeness.

Our 2016 Merlot has a structure built for aging. It has deep and concentrated black cherry and cassis flavors and the signature fine-grained tannins of Thatcher Bay that provide it a velvety texture and a lingering finish.

We hope that you enjoy these new wines. As with all of our wines, each has a story to tell of our valley. We hope you have the opportunity to visit us and experience these stories first-hand.