Parrish Family Vineyard announced the 2016 vintage will be the first year PFV is crafting wine made only from estate-grown grapes.
Culling grapes from its three terroir-diverse vineyards in the Creston, El Pomar and Adelaida sub-AVAs, PFV is officially one of Paso Robles’ few true estate wineries.
Long the vision of Paso Robles-born Winemaker David Parrish, becoming wholly estate allows the winery to continue its mission of producing some of Paso Robles’ most unique and complex Cabernet Sauvignon.
“We’re very proud of this achievement,” says Parrish. “It took a lot of hard work and patience, but we knew that to truly take the winery to new heights every vintage, that we wanted—and frankly needed—to use fruit that we planted, cultivated and worked from literally the ground up on the sites we desired.”
Parrish knows about site selection: After graduating from UC Davis, he earned his vineyard and winemaking stripes working alongside Robert Mondavi, and a slew of other wine legends, transforming Napa Valley from a barren scratch of land to a revered world-class wine region.
Playing a major role in that transformation not only gave Parrish the tools and long-term vision to spot the world-class potential of Paso Robles, it gave him the skills to see it done.
David first planted 40 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon on his Creston AVA ranch in 1995.
With its 1,200 feet of elevation, cooler temperatures, slopes and its unique calcium-rich granite-dense soil, Parrish calls it a specimen vineyard, one that year after year proves perfect for Bordeaux, and boasts four different Cabernet Sauvignon clones, including the often-pesky and volatile Clone 6.
“The soil and elevation provide excellent drainage, it produces beautiful canopies and I’ve never seen blocks ripen as evenly—anywhere. It’s quite amazing, like clockwork,” says Parrish. “I call it the ‘easy child’ vineyard. And it’s where we currently source fruit for our popular club member-only Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.”
Next, David set his sights on a 200-acre parcel in the El Pomar AVA that he had studied for years.
“I walked the land and it just reminded me of Napa,” says Parrish. “It had that feel, that vibration.”
In 2013, Parrish planted 80 acres of mostly Bordeaux grapes in the vineyard’s mix of granite, clay and calcareous soils, along with some Rhone varieties to create Parrish Family Vineyard’s whole-cluster Grenache and Mouvèdre Rosé.
Most recently, in 2014, Parrish planted 30 acres in the famed Adelaida District AVA. In studying the land, Parrish not only saw the potential for dry farming, and thereby further conserving water, but also an opportunity to divide up the vineyard into 16 different unique soil blocks.
“At the very top of the hill, the first soil is almost all calcareous, but as it slopes down toward a creek bed, it gradually shifts from calcareous to clay,” says Parrish. “It’s what makes the vineyard so exciting. We get to play around with the different soil combinations.”
The PFV Adelaida vineyard produces three different Cabernet Sauvignon clones, as well as Malbec, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.
These vastly different vineyards are a dream come true, says Parrish.
“Every year, the fruit is going to be different thanks to weather,” says Parrish. “But what we can count on are these three sites producing certain characteristics consistently. Creston, with its high calcium content produces grapes with beautiful color and flavor. El Pomar produces enormously round fruit and earthy flavors along with great mouthfeel. And in our Adelaida vineyard, with the mix of clay and calcareous, we get pronounced acidity, both full and soft tannins, and spice.
Put them together after harvest, and you’ve got amazing resources to ensure PFV continues producing better wines every year.
“It’s why we handpicked these sites,” says Parrish. “Great wine starts in the vineyard. So we created our own tools by choosing and planting our vineyards, and as any winemaker worth their salt knows, once you have the right tools, you can make a great wine.”