Carignane is a unique grape that is characterized in wine by its bold flavors and full-bodied nature. It’s primarily grown in the south of France and Spain but can also be found in other parts of the world, such as California and Australia. In California, carignane is a key component of many old-vine zinfandel vineyards: it thrives in warm climates, retains bright acidity when fully ripe, and balances the zinfandel’s jammy fruit.
Carignane is frequently found in field-blended vineyards. Many of the old-vine vineyards in Northern California are planted this way. For example, an old-vine California vineyard might be planted primarily with zinfandel, along with small plantings of carignane or petite sirah among the zinfandel vines.
“The second-most planted variety at Geyserville is carignane, as compared to petite sirah at Lytton Springs. It’s lighter in color, fairly high acid, and brings bright fruit that accentuates zinfandel,” explains Head Winemaker & COO, John Olney. In addition to Geyserville, you can find carignane in many of our blends: Mazzoni Home Ranch, Mancini Ranch, Evangelho, Demostene Ranch, and more.
Ridge Vineyards has a long history of producing wine from this Spanish grape variety. On its own, carignane is a perfect grape for single-varietal wines. In fact, we make two here at Ridge Vineyards: one from Buchignani Ranch and one from the Sandy Lane Vineyard.
Our first vintage of Buchignani Ranch Carignane was 1999. Buchignani Ranch is located on Dutcher Creek Road, in the hills on the far western edge of the Alexander Valley appellation. 13.2 acres of the vineyard are planted to carignane, and the majority of the vineyard’s carignane was planted in the 1940s. Our 100% hillside, old-vine carignane wine from Buchignani is complex, its fine structure much like that of a field-blend zinfandel.
2021 was our first vintage of carignane from Sandy Lane, located in Contra Costa County, east of San Francisco. These 130-plus-year-old vines are grown in deep, sandy soil on the bank of the Sacramento River. They are own-rooted, head-trained, and dry-farmed, which is a viticultural anomaly, as most vines throughout the world are grafted onto resistant rootstock.
We are thrilled to share limited, single-vineyard wines – such as the Buchginani Ranch Carignane and the Sandy Lane Carignane – as part of our Advance Tasting Program (ATP) club membership. Each ATP selection reflects Ridge’s winemaking style, emphasizing the distinctive qualities of the vineyards’ geographic location, as well as grape variety, and are only available direct from the winery.
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