Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wine Blogger,Wine Business

A benefit to being a member of any advoacy group ~ We make you look good

The following contains so many mistakes about Petite Sirah that it made my head spin. I’m going to list them, and then I’m going to edit them; because, as I’ve said more than once, to have misinformation on the Internet about Petite Sirah, the most confusing grape of all time, does it a grave injustice.

I’ve also been told by more than one brand that they don’t need PS I Love You. I’m not convinced, when I read things like this, published on September 17, 2011. We still have such a long way to go…

  1. Petite Sirah hails from old French stock. Invented by Dr. Francis [sic: François] Durif, a French nurseryman, it grew from the seeds of an almost-forgotten varietal—Peloursin—pollinated by Syrah (although Durif discovered this later).
    1. There’s the continual myth… That the crossing was an accident. No, the crossing of Syrah + Peloursin was NO accident discovered later. Francois Durif was experimenting, looking for a grape variety that would be resistant to powdery mildew, so he crossed these two grapes. He was successful with his crossing; Petite Sirah IS resistant to powdery mildew. But this new cultivar is susceptible to bunch rot, another grape disease that is extremely hazardous to the wine grape growing success in France. (Consider the climate of France, and now you know why a nurseryman would be experimenting.)
  2. Not long after, the varietal traveled from France to the US (as well as Australia and Israel, though we’ll focus on the US today). It was integrated into the California repertoire by immigrant growers in the late 1800’s, who called it Petite Sirah in keeping with the French nickname it had developed because of its lower yields.
    1. The author of this one hasn’t been in a Petite Sirah Vineyard. The yield of Petite Sirah is as monstrous as the flavors of this wine. At the Petite Sirah symposiums, I’ve heard more than once, and seen it over-and-over again in the vineyards, Petite Sirah is easy to grow. It’s the making of the wine that’s challenging, as discussed by winemakers.
  3. As with the case of Zinfandel, there is some disagreement in the wine community about Petite Sirah’s varietal history. There have been requests to the TTB to identify Petite Sirah and Durif—both are currently recognized as Rhone varietals—as synonyms. So far, the requests have been postponed.
    1. The second request has NOT been postponed. One of the benefits of being a member of PS I Love You is that members are kept up on all processes, and so won’t/don’t put out info that will continue to confuse an already trade, media, and public perception of Petite Sirah. Together as an involved industry, we recently petitioned the TTB, for the second time; the first petition was clumped in with the efforts of some to call Zin and Primitive synonyms. That effort failed, which means it wasn’t postponed. So, the efforts on behalf of PS also went down. I resubmitted the request, with the endorsements of The Wine Institute, Dr. Carole Meredith (the geneticist who proved the DNA fingerprinting for Durif and Petite Sirah being identical), and UC Davis’s Foundation Plant Services department. We’ve been through a letter writing effort, in support of the two becoming synonyms, and are now waiting for the final judgment. We also know, because I have a direct line to the TTB, that we did all of our homework this time. Bureaucratic wheels turn very slowly, and so we just have to wait for the final decree.
  4. Furthermore, because Durif is not a sanctioned grape of the Côtes du Rhône wine growing region (that’s the original one, in France), most winemakers would prefer to maintain the recognized moniker Petite Sirah.
    1. It has nothing to do with nobility and everything to do with history and marketing. It arrived in the US with Charles McIver in 1884, and was taken to Mission San Jose.

I recently read on another blog that Petite Sirah arrived in the 1960s. The historical timeline is right on the PS I Love You Website for easy snagging of correct facts. Whatever happened to R&D before stating facts as true and correct has gone into a bit of a funk. I can’t wait for that kind of writing to come back around as “fashion” once more. Until then, I’ll remain the ever vigilant Petite Sirah educator. Still with plenty to learn myself, it’s always a great learning curve for us all.


Enhanced by Zemanta

4 Responses to “A benefit to being a member of any advoacy group ~ We make you look good”

  1. Sondra says:

    Thanks for the education Jo. I was trying to explain petite sirah to a friend the other day. I thought it was the Durif grape not a descendant of marriage of Durif with the other P grape.

    Its always a surprise when people who write don’t do diligence making sure of their facts.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Sondra, Durif is Petite Sirah, and here’s how it works…

    Syrah + Peloursin = Petite Sirah (aka Durif).

    Seeing it this way makes it easy.

  3. IGA says:

    Thanks for this post.
    I recently started three affinity and advocacy sites:


    I’ve been looking for content ideas and this post gives me some ideas.


  4. Jo Diaz says:

    Inspirations R’Us… Good luck with it all, IGA.

Leave a Reply