Rhys Vineyards is a Santa Cruz maker of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The estate is owned by Kevin Harvey, who has vineyards in several sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Rhys Vineyards also makes a few wines under the Alesia label that come from grapes purchased in the Sonoma Coast and in the Santa Lucia Highlands. It is the Rhys Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, however, that have made the small estate into something of a cult producer of California wines with Burgundian appeal. Both the Pinots and Chardonnays regularly earn high ratings from reviewers. The wines are generally available through mailing lists.
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.