Dirty & Rowdy Family Winery is one of the new California “garagiste” winemaking ventures with a 21st century attitude. Its founders are two youthful couples who make small-batch, so-called “natural wines” with lower alcohol content. Their wines are single vineyard bottlings of grapes that fall outside of the usual California Cabernet Sauvignon-and-Chardonnay model. Dirty & Rowdy’s first fame, for instance, has been with Mourvèdre. The winery has also made Sémillion, Melon and Petite Sirah. Grapes are sourced from Santa Barbara to Mendocino County, and the wine is made in a leased space in Santa Rosa. The exuberantly named Dirty & Rowdy was founded in 2010 by Hardy Wallace and Matt Richardson, who have backgrounds in winemaking and blogging about food and wine. In its short history, Dirty & Rowdy has attained a kind of cult status. Though its wines are released at prices far below California’s “Cult Cabs” and other allocation-only wines, Dirty & Rowdy wines nevertheless sell out and earn favorable reviews. In a typical review, Wine Spectator praised one Dirty & Rowdy wine for showing “lots of personality in a restrained style.”
Monterey AVA is in Monterey County, south of San Francisco. The long, narrow appellation is a 100-mile ribbon of land that extends from north Monterey County south to the edge of Paso Robles. Most of the AVA is considerably inland from the Pacific Coast, and to the east of the Santa Lucia mountain range. About 40,000 vineyard acres are inside the AVA, making it one of California’s larger appellations. Monterey County, in fact, produces almost as much wine as Napa County because the floor of the valley is taken up by large industrial vineyards producing grapes for bulk wine. However, there are also many premier wine estates within Monterey AVA and its numerous sub-appellations. Monterey AVA includes four recognized micro climates, ranging from a cool, maritime climate at the north end to what is known in California as a Region 4 climate in the south, meaning relatively hot and dry. Monterey AVA includes parts of Carmel Valley and Salinas Valley. More than 50% of the grapes grown in the Monterey AVA are Chardonnay, though the many terroirs and micro climates mean that numerous grapes grow well. Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel and Pinot Blanc are widely planted.
Fans of Cabernet Sauvignon appreciate Mourvèdre. It’s a full-bodied Spanish native. It is grown prominently in Bandol, France, Paso Robles, CA and many other regions. It is often blended with Grenache and Syrah and can be used to make rosé and port-style wines.