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Grassini Family Vineyards Adds Andrew Levi As Winemaker

Posted on February 08, 2012

Grassini Family Vineyards is pleased to announce that Andrew Levi has joined the staff as Winemaker for their winery, located in the Happy Canyon region of Santa Barbara AVA.

Says winery GM Katie Grassini, “We began our search a few months before harvest and Andrew’s name kept popping up via several different sources. We interviewed some very well-qualified candidates but Andrew’s knowledge, background, and winemaking approach made him the ideal choice. His integration with the winery was seamless; he took charge immediately and guided us through a lengthy, yet excellent 2011 harvest.”

Relates Levi, “There’s a feeling of auspiciousness here at Grassini Family Vineyards and in Happy Canyon in general. The best potential of both the winery and region is yet unrealized, and if I can have something to do with helping to establish benchmarks with my work at Grassini Family Vineyards, then it’s a beautiful thing. The direction I take with winemaking is to take cues from the vineyard and then follow my heart with the winemaking.This is a great vineyard with which to do that.”

“This vineyard is very dynamic,” continues the winemaker. “Because of that, I felt that there’s an extraordinary opportunity to make wines that were both singular and distinctive to only this site. I knew there would be a Grassini vineyard fingerprint; I felt soul in this place. From a viticultural standpoint, with our management company, Coastal Vineyard Care, and vineyard manager Ben Merz, I am seeing farming carried out on as high a level as I have seen anywhere in the state. There is great attention paid to detail in every aspect of the viticulture and farming. I know there are great wines in this vineyard- my job is to go out and find them.”

Since graduating from UC Davis in 1999 with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, Andrew Levi has worked at Trefethen Vineyards in Napa Valley, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery in Dry Creek Valley, and Skipstone in Alexander Valley. He broadened his winemaking experience by working the 2010 vintage in Bordeaux at Clos des Jacobins and Chateau La Commanderie, both in Saint Emilion. He brings this international experience of working with the Bordeaux varieties to Grassini Family Vineyards.

Larry Grassini purchased the Happy Canyon property in the 1980s as a retreat from the pressures of his law practice. Taking note of the influx of wineries into the area, he reconsidered his original idea of using the land as a horse ranch and seized the opportunity to dig deeper into his enjoyment of wine. After due consideration of his fondness for Cabernet Sauvignon and a lot of research, the property was planted to red and white Bordeaux grape varieties and an eco-friendly winery was constructed.

In addition to the wines grown for the Grassini Family wines, the Grassini Vineyard has become well-regarded by other local wineries as their go-to source for distinctive Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sauvignon Blanc made from this vineyard has a fruit-forward character with a racy streak of tropical fruit and acidity underneath. The Cabernet Sauvignon leans more toward a red-fruit, Bordeaux-like nature as opposed to dark purplish hues one associates with Napa Valley blends. The difference is noticeable in the sense of elegance and balance exhibited in the Grassini fruit, whether it’s used in the Grassini program or included in blends by other local wineries. The unique nature of the property inspired the Grassini family to lead the drive to acquire a specific AVA for Happy Canyon, resulting in the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara designation appearing on labels of all wines from grapes grown in the area.

Grassini Family Vineyards is located in the Happy Canyon AVA of California’s Santa Ynez Valley.

Region: Central Coast
Job Function: Winemaking

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