I love discovering new players in the wine field. Through a series of articles I have been writing on women-owned wineries, I was fortunate to sit down and interview Vicky Farrow of Amista Vineyards; to learn her story and taste her wine. Amista means “making friends” in Spanish and that is the core philosophy behind the genesis of Amista Vineyards. For the Farrows, it is a social beverage that is all about sharing and romance.
Amista is the realization of an 11-year dream for the Farrows which actually started out as husband Mike’s dream. While living in Saratoga, they decided to re-landscape their backyard with 130 Cabernet Sauvignon vines. This was in 1994 and at the time, there was no thought about what to do with the grapes. Knowing that a first year’s grape growth is usually insufficient with which to produce wine, they purchased an additional 1/2 ton and some close friends helped them to make their first batch for fun: a barrel and a pony keg’s worth.
Vicky’s work with Sun Microsystems provided an opportunity to move to New Jersey but they brought their un-bottled wine with them and as Mike enjoyed the fruits of retirement, began to look for vineyard property as an investment, the dream never wavering. After searching on the internet, they found 27 acres in the Dry Creek region. For the first three years, they worked the vineyard remotely, selling their fruit to Rodney Strong Vineyards.
By 2002 Vicky and Mike could fight it no longer – starting to restore a 1908 cottage that sat in the middle of the vineyard, they decided to make that their home and become full-time, permanent residents. As soon as they landed and Mike’s feet hit the ground, he wanted to be more than a mere grape grower — the passion of his initial winemaking coming back to him. Against common sense, he produced six barrels from first leaf of recently replanted 8-acres of Syrah.
Supplementing their Syrah and Chardonnay vineyards with additionally purchased grapes, there is hopes of growing into Cabernet and Zinfandel. With many, many friends helping them along, the Farrows passion is less in the growing and producing than it is in the sharing and helping people learn about the entire wine experience. Chris Wills, known for winemaking at Kenwood and Lake Sonoma is advising and if the Syrah I tasted is any indication, this will be a winery to watch.
2003 Amista Syrah, Dry Creek, Morningsong Vineyards – Initial smoky aroma with deep core of blackberry and boysenberry. Faint hints of star anise and classic, dusty Dry Creek heather. Upon first opening the bottle, there were young, hot, tight flavors of blackberry and chocolate liqueur with dried roses and deep spices. After letting the bottle open, redolent vanilla aromas appeared with a heady, erotic, exotic flavors indicative of the grape showing amazing balance and a long, luscious finish. No price obtained.
Amista Vineyards ~ 3320 Dry Creek Road ~ Healdsburg ~ CA ~ 95448 ~ 707-431-9200
No tastings yet available.