Known as Shiraz in Australia, Syrah is a native French grape most notably associated with the Northern Rhone Valley (as a single red varietal) and the Southern Rhone Valley (as a component in blends). Syrah also does well throughout California, particularly in the Central Coast and across all sub-regions of the Sierra Foothills. The grapes can be highly concentrated and the wines can be very long-lived. The wines tend to be well-structured and gently tannic, and the flavors can range from black pepper, leather, liquorice (in cooler climates) to rich, dark fruit in warmer climates. The best versions from the Sierra Foothills show some of both sides of the spectrum. 


2016 Cedarville Vineyard

A perfect expression of the Foothills from this meticulous organic grower. A range of fruit and a ton of minerality are highlighted by a delicate touch of oak. The wine is young and alive, but ready for a long life. Only 121 cases produced, so grab some fast. 



Red berries, black fruit, violets, roses, rosemary, mint, a hint of pepper, sweet spices… so much complexity, so perfectly balanced… simply an amazing wine!


Intense blackberries and black plums are joined by vanilla and a hint of smokiness on this structured, tannic ride. 


Blackberries, black cherries, violets, herbs, and a dash of pepper comingle in this earthy delight. 


Red and black berries dunked in vanilla and delicious spices; velvety tannins blanket the mouth. NOTE: Terre Rouge produces numerous Syrahs, and all are distinctive. The Ascent is an elite wine that is perhaps the most highly regarded wine in the Foothills (we didn't include it on the list because of its price, but if you can afford it, it is easily on top of the list)


Perfectly structured, blackberry, chocolate, herbal and meaty notes… might well turn out to be the most age-worthy on the list. Note that we have not tasted and rated Skinner Estate Syrahs later than 2017 when their new winemaker took over. We hope to soon.