Edna Valley Vineyard (EVV) is known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This bare fact I have known for thirty years. What I did not know and what I still don't fully understand is the network of interconnected entities responsible for the production of those wines. Learning about EVV and, of necessity, that huge American Viticultural Area (AVA) known as the Central Coast is akin to digging in a bottomless pit where every spadeful you come up with reveals new players in the game you thought you understood.
Jack and Catherine Niven planted their Edna Valley vineyards in the 1970s. Niven Family Wine Estates is their corporate moniker with their Paragon Vineyard Company occupying space within that entity. In 1980 Niven formed a partnership with Chalone for the purpose of sharing production and marketing. In 2005 Chalone was purchased by the wine giant, Diageo, with EVV in tow. In 2011 the wine giant amongst giants, Gallo, bought EVV and announced what they always announce, "We won't change anything.".
Have I confused you enough? Here is more. Gallo bought EVV's sixty-two acre vineyards along with the winery name. EVV sells 300,000 cases of wine a year. With just a little common sense and a modicum of internet research one can ascertain that EVV buys from several other large players in the Central Coast but that information is largely proprietary and we don't know who most of those are. Going forward though we know that Gallo will be providing for all of their winery needs, having purchased the Central Coast wineries, Bridlewood in 2004 and William Hill in 2007.
The reason we bring up EVV for this blog is, of course, because we tasted their wines, liked them, and purchased them for the store. We have the 2011 Cabernet and 2009 Syrah which are wonderful examples of type and they aren't even the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir EVV is known for. Both sell for $12.99. We also have other examples of Gallo's shrewd recession era purchasing in Washington State's Columbia Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99) and 2009 Pinot Gris ($9.99). While we haven't tasted those, we have it on good authority that they are quite good also.
So lets back up a moment here. What Gallo brings to the table, aside from a lot of cash, is promotion and marketing both nationally and internationally. Paragon will stay on for a while for appearances but Gallo will quintuple production at EVV using their vineyard assets and the quality will probably slip a little over time...but maybe not.
This Friday the 22nd from 5 to 7pm we will be tasting Baron Fini Italian Merlot, Ruta 22 Argentine Malbec, Kunde Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, and house favorite Villa Pozzi Italian Pinot Grigio and Nero d'Avola. Please join us.