Concannon Petite Syrah
The vineyards of the East Bay may be less famous than their North Bay neighbors, but the Petite Syrah from Concannon makes a bold statement for the Livermore Valley. Concannon was the first vineyard in the United States to market the Rhone-style varietal known for its intense black-ruby color and deep, rich flavors that can include blackberry jam, cherry, blueberry, and raspberry, with a dash of black pepper. Also one of the East Bay's first vineyards, Concannon began producing Petite Syrah in the 1960s, selling out its first thousand cases in a month. Today, it produces 50,000 cases each year of what has become the winery's signature blend. It grows well in this region because the rocky soil and climate are similar to the conditions in Europe's Rhone Valley, where this grape finds its heritage. Last fall its parent company recruited an Australian winemaker who specializes in Rhone varietals, and recently relaunched the brand internationally -- both big moves for a so-called "petite" wine.