Look for Fallbrook Winery to make waves in the coming year with its newest label, “33 Degrees North,” produced exclusively with estate-grown fruit.
Estate wines are unique because, by law, all of the grapes used must have been grown on land owned by the winery (or completely controlled by it), and they are to be crushed, fermented, finished, aged and bottled in a continuous process. It just so happens that, after a dozen years of calculated trials, the Fallbrook Winery estate vineyards are ideal for growing truly exceptional syrah and Bordeaux varietals.
This is possible as their location possesses a magical combination of a hillside grade location with decomposed granite soil at an elevation nearing 1,000 feet. Because the vines sit on the crest of a hill, they can actually “see” the ocean that provides a refreshing afternoon breeze. This cool breeze combined with warm sunny days gives these grapes the complexity along with the natural acidity necessary to make their end product special-occasion wines.
Strict vineyard practices at the estate follow contemporary beliefs that less is more. Crop size is limited to a measly two tons per acre, focusing the vines’ efforts on the few select clusters that remain. And the vineyards have been irrigated only once so far in 2008.
33 Degrees North Estate Syrah and a the Bordeaux style 33 Degrees North Red Blend crown what is an already impressive library of award-winning boutique wines made at Fallbrook Winery. “Everything we have done to this point has been about this,” owner Ira Gourvitz said of their premium brand.
For a preview of 33 Degrees North, private tastings are available. Visitors should expect to find a real working winery experience and many times will taste with Gourvitz and winemaker Duncan Williams one-on-one. The tasting room is pleasantly void of traditional gift shop trinkets. It is, instead, appropriately dedicated to the wine itself.
Guests looking to score points with the locals should be sure to take along a tennis ball for the friendly and respectful resident farm dog, aptly named Brix, and her Golden Retriever sidekick Lucca, to play with while you sample the Fallbrook Winery family of products.
Look for the 33 Degrees North label, named after the parallel at which the estate is located, to appear on local restaurant wine lists and in fine retail shops throughout the summer.
Supply of the inaugural vintage is extremely limited with only 300 cases produced.
To schedule a private tasting or for more information on Fallbrook Winery, visit
- 33 Degrees North Estate Syrah, Fallbrook Winery:Ruby-purple in color, medium weight with accentuated aromatics. Most predominantly shows black pepper and grilled filet mignon, followed by raspberry patch and dark cherries, and a backbone of slate minerality. Very much an Old World-Style syrah and in that sense a wine made to be enjoyed with food. Absolutely one of the most varietally correct and complex productions that I have recently tasted. 13.5 percent alcohol, 92 Points.
- 33 Degrees North Estate Red Blend, Fallbrook Winery:Dark ruby in color and above average weight. Ripe red cherries coated in milk chocolate with violet undertones. The finish shows traditional American oak flavors of caramel, vanilla and dill. The tannins are absolutely seamless in this robust mouth-filling wine. Enjoy with or without your favorite roasted meal. Silver Oak fans should run to get some of this. 13.5 percent alcohol, 91 Points.
Mark Stuart is a certified wine professional.