Rare Rant,Variety,Wine

Pet Peeve from My Pet Project

How many times, in how many ways, to how many people, can I write,

“Please change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ and then say, ‘Yes!’ to Petite Sirah.”

It’s driving me crazy… Just driving me crazy.

I search for Petite Syrah – Yes with the “y” – on the Internet, just to see who’s getting it wrong… Yes, wrong.

At first, it was easy. I was educating wine writers, who – for the most part – already understood that it’s an “i” word… Petite Sirah. Then, it seemed to go very quiet for quite a while, because just about everyone got it. (It’s a BTT ruling, b-t-w.)

Making matters worse are the brands who have always used the “y” to honor the parent grape, Syrah… Then along comes a whole bunch of newbie bloggers, who are all writing about Petite Sirah, and using the “y,” thinking they’ve got it right.

The challenge is insurmountable, so you guys are all just going to have to look like you don’t really know what you’re doing to those of us who DO know what you’re doing, for a while, while it all shakes out.

I can’t keep up with you all, and I’m giving up. Yup!

Time will finally auto correct you all. It’s not my cross to bear anymore… And, yes, PS I Love You – still.

It’s Petite Sirah, unless it’s on the label as Petite Syrah… And I can count those “grandfathered in guys” on my right hand, while there are hundreds and hundreds of labels with the “i,” as all will be from now on, according to government laws. If you just write Petite Sirah with an “i” odds are very good that you’re looking like you’re really well informed.

5 Responses to “Pet Peeve from My Pet Project”

  1. Arthur says:

    Hi Jo,

    I thought that since 2002, the TTB allowed both the “i” and the “y” spellings.

    Can you update that and tell my why the TTB would mandate the “i” spelling? IS there a specific reason for that spelling? Frequency of use? Popularity of this spelling?

  2. Morton Leslie says:

    Actually I think you are using the new spelling. When I got in the business the grape variety was known in Napa and Sonoma as Petty Sarah. If a grower wanted to refer to his vineyard he would say, “My Petty Sairs.”

  3. admin says:

    True, as a colloquialism, only… Louis Foppiano was quick to teach me that one/

    Charles Sullivan has taught me even more. Sullivan, who you may know as our wine industry historian, having written many books including, California Encyclopedia of Wine, told us at the second Petite Sirah Symposium that it was possibly (through logical inference and his dig deep research) that it was Charles McIver of Linda Vista Vineyards (Mission
    San Jose) who imported Durif to the U.S. in 1884, and coined it “Petite Sirah.”

  4. Thanks for the correction! I never get offended when people give corrections or insight! I learn something new everyday!

    Erica Lauesen
    The Moody Wind Drinker

  5. Jo says:


    Once I was verbally trounced when I sent a note to a writer that had published information about PS that was very incorrect. The writer basically said, “How dare you correct me AFTER I PRINTED MY STORY.”

    “Gee, forgive me for not having my psychic radar out that day that you were composing.”

    That one scathing Email has made me tread lightly on peoples sense of self worth and value. I try to let people know, without stripping them bare in the process, and have forged some really valuable relationships in the process.

    The younger souls just go away, back into their self absorption.

    So, congratulations! You’re one of those great curious souls that understands we’re all students of life; and occasionally, we’re touch by a mentor for our own increased value.

    I’m touched that you’ve responded ;^)

    Keep up the great work!

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