Music,Napa,Wine,Wine Making,Winemaker,Winery

A Really Reluctant Blog Posting about R.A. Harrison Family Cellars

[Image of Nobility was borrowed from the R.A. Harrison Family Cellars Website.]

Why am I reluctant?

Not because there’s anything wrong with Roger Harrison’s effort as a winemaker; but, rather, because there’s everything right about it… To write his story would mean that I’d have to open his bottle of nectar; and, I’m not one to waste a great bottle of late harvest on just me. Yes, I’d certainly be able to continue to enjoy this bottle of wine once I had opened it, but this one is just too good to enjoy unless it’s a really special occasion, was my thinking.

I’m sure Roger would argue that point… But Nectar of the Gods? Com’mon… In my world, this is a great wine to follow a stellar meal with lots of people who could taste it, savor it, and know that it’s cholesterol free. Sipping, savoring, deliciousness… this is what Nobility is all about.

I recently received an Email from Roger, asking if I’d be willing to taste his 2007 Late Harvest R.H. Harrison Family Cellars Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Nobility.

Ah… the noble rot… What better name? So, I looked up Roger, because I wasn’t familiar with who he is. His bio reads like a who’s who:

After 25 years of creating wine for Beringer Vineyards, I have decided the time was right to venture out on my own. I have had the privilege to be trained by not one, but three renowned legends in the wine industry, Myron and Alice Nightingale and Edward Sbragia. I learned the fine art of winemaking through these mentors and soon began to specialize in the late harvest botrytis cinera (noble rot), style wines. I have taken this knowledge forward to create my 2007 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon.

Botrytis cinera (noble rot) is a fungus that affects grapes after a rain, followed by a period of drying. The result is a sweetness and flavor that contributes to wines like the famous Sauternes. It doesn’t happen every year in California, which makes this nectar even more precious.

With my first job at Belvedere, we had a late harvest, and would finish each tasting with it. People would become enraptured with the wine. I learned to love these wines with all of my heart… And now, Roger was going to send a bottle to me, and I’d have to pull the cork… Oh, dear. I kept putting it off, because I was also running on a fast track. But, truthfully, I just wanted to hold onto a time when I’d have many people gathered and could make the wine be the center of the universe for us all.


The Nobility fruit was harvested on November 16th and 29th, 2007, with a brix level of 35.5. The juice for this wine was fermented in small French Oak barrels and held to age for 19 months. This limited production wine (only 333, 375ml cases produced) has layers of melon, vanilla and honey. Toasty oak, sweet fig, and tobacco, a balanced acidity, Asian spices and a rich-honeyed finish. (It is 14.2% alcohol by volume, residual sugar is 12.20g/100ml).

The Fruit: 22% Semillon, Knights Valley, Sonoma County / 78% Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Napa County.

Suggested retail is $75.00 for a 375ml size bottle. Yes, it’s that precious.

So, I opened this lovely bottle, remembering another Harrison (George) when I bought [his] Be Here Now book.

[EDIT, thanks to Steve Heimoff for correcting me. I’m remembering that George Harrison wrote the book, when – in fact – he must have made some reference to the book at the time, so I bought it, thinking it was George Harrison’s book. As Steve mentioned… I WAS there, so I’m allowed to have fuzzy thinking.]

At that time, the book only sold for the magical number of $3.33 (mirroring Roger’s 333 cases). As I was listening to pianist Peter Kater playing Quietude (Migration CD), I cut the foil, pulled the cork, found my best glass, and poured the wine on a Sunday morning… creating my best possible environment for tasting Nobility…

The color was harvest straw and flawless…

The nose was ripe apricots dripping with juice, honeysuckle on a hot summer’s day, and peaches dripping down your chin… Yeah, it was that ripe.

The palate was rich and lush, with all the flavors I listed above, along with maple syrup, burnt orange, while lingering, lingering, lingering…

What a beautiful wine. How exquisite it is, and how perfectly Roger Harrison has nailed this one. I certainly understand how he came to specialize in the crafting of this wine, and how important it must have been for him to strike out on his own, to craft it in such a way that only he knew best.

While this wine was my breakfast on that lovely summer morning, I’d recommend it for luxurious events in your life. With the fourth quarter of the year upon us, this wine is a perfect one to have with your holiday celebrations… bringing in the Nobility… or as a gift to someone really special who enjoys wines as fine as this one.

How does Roger feel about this wine?

“As far as a quote. Here it goes. After several decades of working with Botrytis, I have very distinct ideas about winemaking, Balance is essential. I am very proud of this wine. Nothing earth shattering I know, I just want to educate people on LH Botrytis wines and how they can be enjoyed. I read an article once that only 3% of the wine drinking public even knew what Botrytis LH wines were. I have a huge audience to educate, and with the quality of my wines. I am on a mission to do just that.”

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4 Responses to “A Really Reluctant Blog Posting about R.A. Harrison Family Cellars”

  1. Hi Jo, I can understand why you thought George Harrison wrote “Be Here Now.” You are a child of the Sixties, and like Dylan said, if you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t there! Actually, Be Here Now (which I also loved) was written by Baba Ram Dass, the former Richard Alpert, who promoted LSD with Timothy Leary. I met Ram Dass, who was gay, once, in the retreat he lived in on Mount Tamalpais. George Harrison did however write “Within You Without You” (on Sergeant Pepper), which sounds inspired by Be Here Now:

    “When you’ve seen beyond yourself – then you
    may find, peace of mind is waiting there –
    And the time will come when you see
    we’re all one, and life flows on within you and
    without you.”

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Steve… Excellent… Why did I think it was George Harrison? Probably because I WAS there. LOL. I stand corrected, and will adjust the text above as an edit.

    You’re so great!

  3. Roger says:

    35.5 brix, wow, that is a late harvest. I would have had to triple check refractometer trip for that one. God bless Hanna Digital, the new age.

    Roger was definitely a risk taker with vision. One good downpour with noble rot on the clusters and you’d swear you were walking through a vinegar processing plant vice vineyard.

    Funny, most people think of vineyards as grapes growing and then bam, harvest. They don’t realize the risk involved with vineyards and the avenues of winemaking that winegrowers must endure to achieve, well, nobility…

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    So… very good point. It’s that risk that pushes the price up, as this bottle is $75 for a 375 ml bottle. That would be $150 for a regular sized 750 ml bottle.

    Thanks for bring out that point on this one, Roger. It’s an important ingredient in how this all happens. Thanks!

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