Wine is a celebration of place and people that love the place, and there are some really special places and people, with Gary Pisoni being very special. He has become a larger than life figure in the wine world, a rock star, a cult hero and a wild man, but behind all of these is a wonderful person, a humble person and a man that loves nature, the land and his family. He is one of my heroes, and I am happy to know him and taste his wines. Gary Pisoni is the man behind the Pisoni Vineyard, that no other than Robert Parker calls a Grand Cru site, in reference to the greatest vineyards in Burgundy, and Gary is the man that put Monterey on the world class wine map for red wine. When the world wants a dark and intense Pinot Noir it looks to the Santa Lucia Highlands, and it is thanks to Pisoni in large part. Along with his partner Gary Franscioni, Gary Pisoni own the second “Grand Cru” vineyard, the “Garys’ Vineyard” and his sons run the family business, which include the Pisoni Estate label and the Lucia Vineyards label, with Gary happy to take a backseat now and just be an ambassador in the market place and just be a grandpa. The Pisoni Estate label focuses on tiny lots of Pinot Noir, and from next year on the Chardonnay, with the Lucia Vineyards label featuring Rose “Lucy”, two Syrahs and two Pinot Noirs that are cuvees made up of “Garys’ Vineyard” and young vine “Pisoni Vineyard” fruit, plus the Chardonnay (soon to be a Pisoni Estate, from 2008 on). Lucia also helps out with the Luli Chardonnay a peachy and mineral laced unoaked wine.
I met up with Gary Pisoni at Rancho Cellars to taste his Lucia Vineyards new releases and to hear about the vintage and the vineyards. Gary just glows with pride when talking about his vineyards and talking about his sons, Mark, who runs the business side and who just made Gary a grandfather, and Jeff, who makes the wonderful wines and who is one of the hottest talents in winemaking these days. Gary has lots to be proud of, great kids, great vineyards and even greater wines! Lucia is releasing the 2008 Lucy, the 2008 Luli Chardonnay, the 2007 Lucia Chardonnay, the 2007 Pinots, the Santa Lucia Highlands (cuvee) and the single vineyard “Garys’ Vineyard”, both of which were fantastic. The Syrahs get released later in the year, and I expect them to be even better than the amazing 2006’s, so watch this space, and I’ll let you know when they come out. Check out all the Lucia reviews on my “Reviews” page.