Rhône 101

 

American Rhône through the years.

 

**1960**

New World wine producers began labeling their wines by varietal rather than geographically.

 

**1974**

Joseph Phelps Winery makes the first American Syrah in the modern era.

 

**1975**

Gary Eberle plants Syrah at Estrella Winery in Paso Robles. It sells so poorly that by 1980 he is making a 'white' Syrah - a white wine from red grapes.

 

**1978**

Robert Parker stared his career as a wine writer in 1978, when he founded what became The Wine Advocate.

 

**1986**

Syrah was introduced into Washington state in 1986.

 

**1989**

The Wine Spectator publishes its first major story on American Rhône wines, written by Harvey Steiman. Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon appears on the cover in a mask and powder blue cowboy costume, cementing his role as the "original" Rhône Ranger.

 

**​1989**

Tablas Creek, a partnership between the Haas and Perrin families, is the first project on American soil by a French Rhône producer.

**1991**

John Alban releases his first Viognier, having planted more of the variety than anyone in the United States, and very likely the world.

 

**1993**

In Georgia, Mat Garretson sponsors an international Viognier tasting through his marketing group, the Viognier Guild, a first for the variety. The event is attended by 22 guests, plus two journalists and two winemakers: Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards in Virginia, and Alban. Alban persuades Garretson to move to California and sponsor the next event there.

 

**1995** 

Restaurateur Manfred Krankl sends a bottle of 1994 Queen of Spades, a Syrah from his new winery, Sine Qua Non, to wine critic Robert Parker. It receives an astronomical score of 95 points, the first American Rhone varietal wine to reach that mark.

 

**1997**

the girl & the fig Restaurant opens with a Rhône-Alone winelist - first of its kind.

 

**1998**

After a few itinerant years, the Viognier Guild changes its name to Hospice du Rhône and settles in Paso Robles at the Mid-State Fairgrounds. With the Rhône Rangers, who joined in 1998, Hospice becomes the pre-eminent celebration of Rhône varietal wines in the country.

 

​**2005**

Tablas Creek winery writes their first blog post in what becomes an award winning blog with a focus on their production of Rhône varietals.

 

**2005**

In a single decade, plantings of Syrah balloon from less than 1,000 acres to more than 17,000. In 2011, there were 18,825.

**2017**

In the girl & the fig's 20th year in business, Founder, Sondra Bernstein is honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Rhône Rangers for her support of Rhône and Rhône-style wines.

 

**2018**

France's anti-fraud body says it has uncovered a huge scam in which a merchant tried to sell more than 48 million liters (some 12.7 million gallons) of wine falsely labeled as Cotes-du-Rhône. (the equivalent of 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of wine.)

 

 

Sources:

Patrick Comiskey

www.thewinecellarinsider.com

Washington Wines and Wineries: The Essential Guide"

France 24

www.tablascreek.com

www.jobdunnuck.com

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