2021 Ashanta 'Embryo II' Syrah
In the 1960s, Chenoa’s grandparent’s Stephen and Justine Ashton, were young New York expats who left for the West, eventually landing in Glen Ellen, CA. They were entranced by the small, bohemian town 8 miles north of Sonoma, after communing at
spiritual gatherings on Sonoma Mountain where they met working in a garden.
After 6 days of knowing each other, they were married and soon found a property on the foothills of Sonoma Mountain, certain this would be where they would spend the rest of their lives, which they indeed did. It was covered with centenarian Oak, Eucalyptus, Madrone and Manzanita trees, and below their quaint farmhouse was a small orchard in a 6 acre field. Chenoa’s grandfather, a stern and serious man who never drank more than two glasses of wine, was inspired to plant a vineyard after hearing stories of his Sicilian grandfather who made wine in Palermo.
At this time, Sonoma Valley’s wine industry was just burgeoning, and the hot varietals
were Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Gewurztraminer, which Chenoa’s grandparents planted
(minus the Riesling) on 3 acres. They were in their mid-20s, bursting with creativity and vivaciousness, determined to fulfill every dream they could conjure.
In 1980, Chenoa’s grandparents planted a Syrah vineyard on 3 acres of a sloping hillside southwest of their house. The clay soils were dense with a thick layer of impermeable dirt. Since the vines were on a slanted hill, all rain water rushed to the bottom of the vineyard, leaving the upper half quite stressed. However, the vines, as they do, prevailed, and Chenoa’s grandparents held decades of vintages from the site.
The same site Embryo II was birthed, 42 years later. The same site, that was the only
survivor after the Nuns Fire in 2017 destroyed Chenoa’s grandparent’s property. The
same site where Will and Chenoa made their first wine in 2019 and brought them to
pursue their wine making project in its entirety.
A time capsule indeed, here she is. Embryo II, the second iteration and expression of a
terroir shepherded by generations.
The Syrah was hand-harvested by Will, Chenoa, and Chenoa’s aunt, Sarah Ashton. It
was de-stemmed and crushed into an open top fermentor, where it was punched down
twice a day by hand for two weeks. It was pressed into French Neutral Oak where it aged for 8 months, and racked once on NYE. No additions or subtractions. Unfined, unfiltered, zero SO2