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Rhys Vineyards

Rhys Vineyards

Rhys Vineyards was founded in 2004 by Kevin Harvey, a venture capitalist and Burgundy wine enthusiast. He became good friends with some of the top domaines in Burgundy and, when he thought of planting some Pinot Noir of his own, this gave him access to research their properties with a focused scientific approach. He then looked for analogies back home in California with an obsessive attention to detail, searching for the characteristics that he believed could make quality wine. And he found this in his own back yard in the Santa Crus Mountains! Rhys only grows three grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. They farm seven estate vineyard sites: six in the Santa Cruz Mountains and one in the Anderson Valley. These are some of the most steep and remote vineyards on the Californian coast. The location is unique. The Santa Cruz Mountains are bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the San Francisco Bay to the east, and these two bodies of water moderate the temperatures, creating a cool climate which produce intense wines with a beautiful balance. The soils here are diverse, but each of Rhys' vineyards is planted on a unique and completely different geology, producing distinctively different wines with site specific characters. The 16 mile transverse Anderson Valley becomes increasingly cool as it nears the Pacific. Rhys' 31 acre Bearwallow Vineyard here is planted at the coolest north-west corner or “Deep End” of the valley, on rocky slopes which produce intense, mineral-driven and elegant wines. The vineyards are meticulously farmed with organic and biodynamic principles, and a “spare no expense” approach. They have conducted extensive trials of clones and rootstock selections, matching vines to the specific geology of each vineyard site and plot. Minimal intervention winemaking is carried out in their gravity-fed cellar, with the philosophy that minimal input equals maximum expression of place. Fermentation takes place in one ton fermentation tanks (only 4 feet tall and 4 feet in diameter), which allows them to microvinify tiny sections of their vineyards, giving them the opportunity to compare minute differences in terroir, and leads to an in-depth understanding of their vineyards. As the tanks are so small, foot treading the grapes instead of mechanical punchdowns or pumpovers is easily carried out and this ancient, gentle method preserves the complex aromas and flavours of the fruit. Only native yeasts are used for fermentation to further increase complexity and enhance vineyard expression. The wines are aged in the finest French oak; the staves of the barrels are air dried for four years in Burgundy before they are coopered, a method which empathises the pure fruit flavours of the grapes instead of noticeable oak flavours. The wines are bottles unfined and unfiltered. Rhys have rapidly risen to become one of the greatest producers on the planet, a benchmark producer for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. Their distinct terroir-driven wines, each with their own unique personality, are alluring and fascinating and have gained a near cult following.