Saintsbury is in the Carneros appellation in southern Napa Valley. It was founded in 1981 by Richard Ward and David Graves. The men met as students in the winemaking program at the University of California at Davis. They decided to focus on Pinot Noir, which in the early 1980s was rarely produced in California. The pair named their 53-acre estate after George Saintsbury, an early 20th-century English writer and wine connoisseur. Saintsbury makes several Pinot Noirs and a few Chardonnays. They purchase some of their grapes, and have also produced Syrah. Flagship wines are vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs from Brown Ranch. Wine writer James Laube has noted that “Saintsbury has been a model of intelligent wine making on several counts. The winery’s style emphasizes ripe fruit flavors and supple textures and the ratio of quality to price is high.”
Mendocino AVA was established in 1984 and amended in 1989. It includes numerous sub-appellations. Mendocino AVA is entirely within Mendocino County, and the AVA is known for its Mediterranean climate. Vintners successfully grow Carignan, Charbono, Grenache, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah and Syrah. In cooler parts of the region Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also grown. Mendocino County is home to nearly 600 vineyards, and many have been certified organic for decades, thanks to the region’s famous “green and sustainable” approach to agriculture and nearly everything else. Mendocino was named for 16th century explorers, a pair of brothers whose last name was Mendoza. Winemaking, however, didn’t start until the 19th century when some would-be gold miners decided it was more profitable to make wine than to pan for gold. Italian immigrants in the late 19th century continued to establish winemaking ventures.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.