The Origin of Petite Sirah

The Petite Sirah grape originated in the 1870s in France’s Rhône region, the result of a cross between Syrah and a less well-known Rhône variety, Peloursin.

Named after the French nurseryman Dr. François Durif, who created the cross, the “Durif” grape was created in hopes of giving Syrah a better ability to resist mildew. However, the resulting grape’s tight clusters replaced one problem, the susceptibility to mildew, with another—the susceptibility to grey rot in the humid Rhône region.

In the mid-1880s, Charles Melver imported it and started to grow the grapes in his California vineyard. California’s climate is drier, and the tight little grape does relatively well there as long as the rains aren’t abnormally heavy and frequent. He was most likely the first to call the variety ‘Petite Sirah.’

Today, Petite Sirah grapes are a popular choice among connoisseurs because the small berries, and consequently high skin-to-juice ration, allow Petite Sirah to produce wine with high tannin levels, surprisingly high acidity and thus the ability to age. It is also one of the deepest, most opaque red wines with very high levels of anthocyanin (an antioxidant).

Sándor’s Petite Sirah grapes performs extremely well in Southeast Arizona’s Cochise County because of the warm long summer days, the cool evenings and the rocky soil make an ideal climate for the grapes.

Characteristically, this wine has a deep color, dense blackberry fruit character, mixed with black pepper notes.

2015 was an exceptional growing season—perfect for making Sándor’s Petite lovely Petite Sirah wine. The grapes were crushed and the wine left on the skins following fermentation. This process gave the wine its ruby hue and rich mouth feel. When the tannins became mellow and balanced, the wine was pressed off the skins, and transferred to barrels, where it aged 21 months in new oak. A combination of Hungarian, French and American Oak barrels were used.

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