The SOMM Journal

February / March 2016

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Page 68 of 132

STEPHEN REUSTLE HADN'T PLANNED ON BOOKING A FLIGHT to Sydney, Australia during the 2015 harvest, but an email from Judith Kennedy, President of the 6 Nations Wine Challenge, changed all that. It turned out that Reustle's 2012 Syrah from Oregon's Umpqua Valley had taken first place at the competition, which is held annually in Sydney. Kennedy had passed along a request from the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, John Berry, that Reustle should come and accept the award in person. When Reustle (pronounced "Russell") heard the news that his Syrah came in at first place, he was elated, and also felt an incredible sense of accomplishment—years of going against the grain had proven he was on the right path. "Most people would grimace at the Brix we pick it at," he told me over the phone, back in December ; "we are picking at 21 to 22 Brix, and what we get is a more Northern Rhône style, with intense spice and pepper." In the Syrah category, 52 wines were competing, many from Australia, where, as Reustle points out, "they [tend to] like bigger alcohol, fruit-driven Syrahs, but ours is leaner, more elegant with complex spice character—and yet, we were selected number one. I think that says something about changing palates across wine judges, and across consumer interest." REUSTLE-PRAYER ROCK VINEYARDS IN OREGON'S UMPQUA VALLEY IS HELPING USHER IN A SYRAH REVOLUTION by Jonathan Cristaldi / photos courtesy Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards THE RISE OF Oregon Syrah View of Romancing Rock Vineyard, one of two estate vineyards owned by Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards. The other, Prayer Rock Vineyard, was named after a daily prayer spot and Romancing Rock was named for a story not suitable for these pages. The vineyards are close to the Umpqua River, so afternoons bring cooling Pacific breezes, and the Umpqua Valley's 30-degree diurnal temperature swings aid in acid retention in grapes. Stephen Reustle, owner and winemaker, Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards.

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