Phenomenal Service Award – Louis M. Foppiano

Eighteen PS I Love You Pioneers to be Given Founder Awards

This year marks the Fifth Anniversary for PS I Love You, the advocacy group for Petite Sirah. PSILY is holding its annual meeting on Monday, August 6, 2007, at Mark West Lodge in Santa Rosa, California. At this meeting, members of PS I Love You will be given awards to not only draw attention to their meritorious service on behalf of Petite Sirah, but also to say “thank you” for helping to bring this cultivar into the spotlight as an American heritage variety.

In 2004, PS I Love You presented two Lifetime Achievement awards:

  1. Jim Concannon of Concannon Vineyard, who was the first to varietally label Petite Sirah in 1961 with a 1964 vintage.
  2. Louis J. Foppiano, Sr. of Foppiano Vineyards, who has had Petite Sirah in his vineyards since his grandfather Giovanni bought the Riverside Farm (which today is Foppiano Vineyards) in 1896.

In 2006, the first Phenomenal Service Award was given to Patty Bogle of Bogle Vineyards, for her untiring commitment as Chairwoman for the Petite Sirah Heritage Clone Vineyard (HCV) at UC Davis. This service has also included an individual donation from Bogle Winery for $30,000, in order to secure the beginning of the HCV in front of the new Viticulture building at U.C. Davis.

In 2007, Louis M. Foppiano, Jr. has been selected for the second Phenomenal Service Award, because as this year’s President Dave Pramuk (Robert Biale Vineyards) so succinctly put it, “None of us would be here, if it weren’t for Lou. He started the Petite Sirah Symposium, and PS I Love You is a direct result of attendees taking action when Lou gave his blessings for an advocacy group to get started.” Jeff Cohn, chairman of the award committee, stated, “The industry, as well as PS I Love you, owes a debt of gratitude to Louis M. Foppiano, Jr. This year’s award is a way of letting Louis know that his efforts have been duly noticed.”

Those members who will receive Founders Awards are the following:

Dr. Carole Meredith, UC Davis’s geneticist who discovered the DNA fingerprinting for Petite Sirah/Durif.

Field Stone Winery – John Staten [PS was planted in 1894 in conjunction with the Teal brothers winery in our redwood barn. When we purchased the property through the 1960’s, our Petite Sirah was vinified by Lee Stewart of the original Souverain Winery (now Burgess Cellars) in St. Helena. The bottling was a Souverain vineyard designated release, “Redwood Ranch & Vineyard”, our family’s ranch and vineyard. We, as Field Stone Winery (originally a dba of Redwood Ranch), began producing Petite Sirah from our vineyard in 1977] As an FYI ~ The Souverain was the second release of Petite Sirah, only a month after the 1964 Concannon release.

Foppiano Vineyards Louis J. Foppiano, Sr. (growing since 1896. Giovanni Foppiano purchased the Riverside farm, what is Foppiano Vineyards today, “Petah Sera” was already planted; producing since 1967, being the first in Russian River Valley to varietally label in RRV.)

Concannon Vineyard – Jim Concannon (growing since 1911, was the first winemaker to varietally label Petite Sirah in 1964 with a 1961 vintage.)

Ballentine Vineyards – Van Ballentine (Van’s father started growing Petite in 1933. Petite Sirah was made throughout the 1940s, and that went on for years in an off-and-on fashion. In 1994 they began producing Petite Sirah as a labeled variety again. Interestingly, Van’s wife Betty Pocai Ballentine’s family, L. Pocai & Sons, were growing Petite Sirah, which was their biggest wine for many years. According to Van, this was all long before he began his own company.)

F. Teldeschi Winery – Dan Teldeschi (Dan’s father began growing PS in 1946 when he bought his first ranch in Dry Creek. The vines were already established, being planted in the 19-teens. They still have that block of grapes and it still puts out.)

Pedroncelli Winery – John Pedroncelli (They have had the varietal Petite Sirah planted on their home ranch since the 1950s, always used as a blending grape, rather than produced as a varietal. They began varietally labeling Petite Sirah starting in 1997.)

Mettler Family Vineyards – Larry Mettler (growing since early 1960s, recently producing)

Parducci Wine Estates – Paul Dolan (producing since 1965; They have a picture of a 1965 Petite Sirah at the Winery, part of the poster with different eras of labels.)

Mounts Vineyards – Richard Mounts (began growing PS in 1967. In the spring of 2007, Mounts Family Winery was established, and labeled their first Petite Sirah with a 2005 vintage.)

Bogle Winery – Patty Bogle (Bogle Winery planted their first Petite Sirah in 1968 from Concannon cuttings. They started producing Petite Sirah in 1979.)

Trentadue Winery – Leo Trentadue (producing since 1969)

Alger Vineyards – John Alger (The Petite Sirah growing at Alger Vineyards was planted in 1970. At that time it was called Durif. UC Davis found 4 different clones of Durif and helped plant them in 1970.)

David Bruce Winery – David Bruce (producing since 1970)

Langtry Estates – The original “test block,” planted by the Raymonds, had petite sirah. This block became block three in the new numbering. That was in the early 1970’s. The first vintages from the “test block” were probably made at the Raymond winery or Parducci Winery. Orville Magoon stated that he had a few early bottles in his “wine library” in the room next to the winery kitchen in a brown carton And there were larger quantities stored at Guenoc with the old wines.

Stags’ Leap Winery – Kevin Morrissey (growing and producing since 1972)

Robert Brittan – Winemaker (began working with Petite Sirah in 1974, and has had an illustrious career with Petite, including getting vines to UC Davis for the clean budwood program.

Mohr-Fry Ranches – Bruce Fry (Mohr-Fry Ranches has been growing Petite Sirah since 1974.)

These awards are a very important way of honoring those passionate vintners, growers, and winemakers who have committed themselves to guaranteeing Petite Sirah’s placement in California as a historical variety. Each one of these members became a member of PS I Love You, not to be included in a social network, but as committed vintners or growers, whose obligation to Petite Sirah has deep chronological significance. The actions of each associate is constantly selfless, and I’m continually amazed by how devoted each member is.