MaryCarter Vnyd in HeckerPass/Gilroy

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MaryCarter Vnyd in HeckerPass/Gilroy

Postby TomHill » Sat Oct 19, 2013 6:04 pm

I was wondering today what ever happened to the MaryCarterVnyd down in the HeckerPass area of Gilroy. Here's the story:
Back in '70 & '71, DavidBruce made a set of LateHrvst reds from MaryCarter's old vnyd down there: Grenache/Carignane/Zinfandel/PetiteSirah. The wines were labeled LateHarvest, LateHarvest Dry, LateHarvest Sweet, and Essence. The alcohols ranged from 14.5%-16.5%, maybe higher. They were huge wines, very extracted & tannic, huge body, not all that hot/raisened/pruney, lots of Fr.oak, black as the ace of spades. The late SanDiego wine critic, JohnBrennan, predicted they would go out to the yr 2020. Like many wine critics, he was blowing smoke. The wines, when I last tasted them around 1990, were pretty much shot. There was an article by HarryOldman in PhilipSeldon's Vintage magazine describing them at 10 yrs of age in the early '80's. They were already getting a bit shaky then.
I was curious if anybody still got those grapes so started poking around in CyberSpace. Google gave the answer.
MaryCarter, no spring chicken in 1970, expired in 1988. The vnyd was subsequently plowed under. End of story. Sorta.
Google turned up the following article by RandallGrahm:

MaryCarterVnyd

on the history of his CigareVolante, which mentioned MaryCarter's long-gone vnyd and his discovery of those DavidBruce Grenaches. Poking around the Gilroy area, it led him to GeorgeBesson's old head-pruned/own-rooted Grenache vnyd which went into his Clos du Gilroy and Cigare. GeorgeSr still lives there on the property, which is run by his son, GeorgeJr. GJr gave up the head-pruning and put this old-vine Grenache (planted in the '40's) up on a wire, but the original vines are their. The also go to the Birichino boys as well. Anyway, Randall's story about Cigare is a good read.
So, bottom line, MaryCarter's old-vine vnyd is long gone. Sigh. But it sounds as if the HeckerPass is an area that time has left behind. It's an area that I should explore sometime.
Interesting bit of history. FWIW, should anybody be interested. Probably not, though.
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Re: MaryCarter Vnyd in HeckerPass/Gilroy

Postby wnissen » Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:00 pm

I'm interested, Tom. Hecker Pass is certainly one of the oddest wine regions I've visited. Essentially unknown outside the Bay
Area, in close proximity to some of the world's premier wine regions, and yet it putters along.
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Re: MaryCarter Vnyd in HeckerPass/Gilroy

Postby Jenise » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:15 pm

We were travelling about in this area last April, mostly needing to get from the coastal road to the interstate to speed up our trip home. We made one detour, to see the mission at San Juan Battista (the most beautiful and perfectly preserved California mission I've seen) and had to resist chasing down signs for wineries. I recall one for Hecker Pass Winery, for which I didn't realize the significance of the name until now, and another sprawling place closer to the Los Banos end of things called Casa de Fruta, I believe. Bob and I speculated that Casa de Fruta might make wines out of other things than grapes, or be like a San Antonio Winery.

Speaking of San Antonio Winery, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a whole bin of their wines at a Total Wines store in Seattle last week. I would never have for one second believed those wines were commercially viable--that is, where there's competition. When I was a little kid their tasting rooms were dotted around the Southern California landscape, and I recall my neighbor buddy's dad, a doctor, stopping to load a few jugs into the trunk of his old Oldsmobile when we'd go out on house calls with him on weekends. He would make us swear not to tell our mothers about those stops, and of course our silence wasn't free. Loved going on house calls!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: MaryCarter Vnyd in HeckerPass/Gilroy

Postby wnissen » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:58 pm

Casa de Fruta does make fruit wines, their plum is decent but all are very sweet by grape wine standards, obviously. If you're
starved it's not a bad place to stop to eat, no worse than what you'll find in the Central Valley, anyway.

You might try stopping by Hecker Pass next time, though. An odd lineup of wines, including an off-dry "Burgundy" (bet you
didn't know it was still 1967 some places). The petite sirah starts out fiercely tannic but needs twenty years of
aging. They have some library wines for sale so you can see some of the evolution and/or not have to wait twenty years.
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