Reviews, Interviews, and Other Views…

The Tasting Panel Magazine: Publisher’s Picks - 2014 Petite Sirah

November 2018 Located in the lee of Howell Mountain, the vineyard site is protected from fog and gets plenty of sunshine for ripening. Talented winemaker Robbie Meyer does it again, creating an expressive, dynamic red. Aromas of dark cherry and lilacs are dense— almost syrupy, but not sweet. Melted chocolate and blackberry join hands with anise and violets as the mouthfeel’s remarkable concentration paves the way for a pleasurable finish.

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November 19, 2018 “…it’s damn good…You know how sometimes a really ripe wine gets fatter and fatter as you progress through the stages of it? This does precisely the opposite. A chubby chunk in the nose and a lean, mean machine in the finish.” You can read more here:




October 15, 2018 “…Gratus Vineyards is located in a stunning little hideaway in Pope producing some very impressive wines. We spoke with owner Thomas Wargovich about the challenges of owning a wine brand, along with the rewards...”

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Planting a Dream…

By Tim Carl

Oct 5, 2018 …“The vision was always to build a place where I might live out my life in balance with nature,” Wargovich said. “For years I’ve loved wine, but the trees are a lifelong passion. And I thought, what could be better than living in a botanical garden or an arboretum — that would be my dream.”

…During our tour of the property, Wargovich and I had talked about trees, wine and the future. Gratus, Latin for grateful, is the name of their brand, but it also speaks to their being grateful for the opportunity to become a part of the Napa Valley community, grateful to have provided a place for endangered trees to thrive and grateful for the chance to play a part in Pope Valley’s growing reputation for producing excellent wines.

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October 2, 2018 A ridiculous purple-blue-ruby, dark as night with a minuscule clear edge. Rich fruit-forwardness with a sash of oak reach out from the glass, black currant and sweaty towel lay a foundation for the strawberry lollipop and heady plum. Plentiful air settles everything down into a flat-out BEAUTIFUL red wine–not a strange variety, not a funky mess, not an oak-bomb–some mint creeps in under the elegant fruit and lays the stage for a balanced, polished red wine…This is Malbec at its truest California interpretation.


Gratus Vineyards 2015 Petite Sirah
by SoifKnows

That crazy crazy purple which Petite Sirah is capable of. An abrupt edge not tapering to anything except staining my glasses to where they will never be clear again. Instant fruit-forward blows off to a greener, latex and straw and asphalt-petrichor on a raw-dough base. Sure, it may be raw chocolate-chip cookie-dough, but dough it is: fleshy and yeasty. Fresh-sliced pepper and a dark intense bitter burn way down deep into the late vestiges of the nose. Letting things settle down for a few minutes results in a re-visit of all that chokingly sweet Petite fruit jumping out again. In the mouth, all that fruit is tempered with a tobacco-water background the tongue desperately tries to wrap itself around. In terms of the two styles so common with Petite Sirah these days, I would say this thing manages a tight-rope walk down BOTH. I think anyone who reads me regularly knows what style I prefer, and I was worried at first this thing might be pin-up Petite Sirah. But it is NOT. Old-world rusticity oozes from every orifice, dark and brooding while ridiculous fresh juicy fruit does cartwheels on your tongue. Massive green tannins calm the nerves and lay respect down like sidewalk for the playfully serious blackberry and elderberry to roll smoothly on. This is a CRAZY-GOOD petite sirah. It’s a fun grape than can be expressed in several ways and if you’re a fan of a heavier, denser, more age-worthy, less slutty style–as I am–you’ll like this one. But it’s still fun to drink. NOW.

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Gratus Vineyards 2017 white wine
By Steve Heimoff 

This is a Rhône-style blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne and Picpoul Blanc. It was aged in neutral oak for 7 months, and yet it still smells and tastes oaky. Underneath the smoky vanilla is California-ripe fruit: mango, papaya, orange, pineapple, white peach, with flowery, honeysuckle sweetness. With a medium-full body, it will appeal to Chardonnay lovers for its richness. It’s quite a flashy, elaborate wine—I can imagine it with lobster.

Gratus Vineyards 2014 malbec
By Steve Heimoff 

I didn’t review a lot of Napa Valley Malbecs during my career, for the simple reason that there weren’t many. As I re-read my reviews, certain descriptors are repeated: dark, full-bodied, velvety, chocolate, blueberries, plums, meaty, peppery spices, smoky, soft tannins, dry, lingering finish. That would be a good description of this Malbec, which happens to be 100% varietal. It’s as good as any Malbec I’ve ever had, a perfect steak wine. Cabernet lovers will enjoy it. In addition to the sumptuous and frankly delicious flavors, it has the elegance, poise and finesse you expect from a Napa Valley red wine.

Gratus Vineyards 2014 Petite sirah
By Steve Heimoff 

Fans of Petite Sirah will exult in this dark, complex beauty. It has all the hallmarks of a superb young “Pet:” an inky black color except at the purple rim, an explosion of aromatics, and enormous depth. The blackberries, mulberries and chocolate are complexed with a powerful note of teriyaki-splashed animale, on both the aroma and flavor. In addition there are luscious layers of licorice, clove, cinnamon, violets, bacon and an earthy dustiness, wrapped into a wonderfully silky, velvety mouthfeel. Fifty percent of new oak, aged for 22 months, would overwhelm most red wines, even most Petite Sirahs; not this one. The wood brings subtle, judicious layers of toast, smoke, vanilla. This is seriously good wine. It is in fact one of the best Petite Sirahs I have ever tasted, and will live for decades. Years ago we used to wonder if Petite Sirah could ever come close to the elegance and finesse of a great Cabernet Sauvignon in California. This wine proves that the answer is Yes. If the wine has a fault, it is a surfeit of gorgeousness. It holds nothing back.

Gratus Vineyards 2014 Red blend
By Steve Heimoff 

I tasted the Malbec and Petite Sirah before this one, which is a blend of both those varieties plus 75% Cabernet Sauvignon. So what does the Cab do? Several things. It brings greater structure, in the form of firm tannins. It brings darker, blacker fruits—black plums and licorice, as well as blackberries and sweet cassis liqueur. It also brings more nobility, although that’s hard to put into words: all three red wines are elegant, but the Red Blend shows an aristocracy that the others don’t. In the end, though, all three wines—the Red Blend, Petite Sirah and Malbec—are more similar in their full-bodied, dry ripeness, softness and oakiness than different. The Red Blend is the flashiest of the trio due to Cabernet’s inherent qualities. This is a beautiful, well-articulated red wine, very much in the modern Napa style. It will please anyone with a taste for Napa Cabernet, which includes me.

Wine of the week: Gratus Vineyards 2014 Petite Sirah Napa Valley ($45)
By Catherine Bugue, St. Helena Star 

Aug 27, 2018  If you are of the mind that Petite Sirah wines are so big that you need to brace yourself before taking a sip, you have to try this Gratus (grah-tuhs) from Napa Valley. It has the deeply intense color of Petite Sirah with richly concentrated fruit, but the blackberry, spice and herb flavors glide across a palate on a super silky wave; this is pure pleasure for the tongue. Bravo to owner and vineyard manager, Thomas Wargovich, and winemaker Robbie Meyer.

This Petite Sirah is all estate fruit; the vineyard lies on the eastern slopes of Howell Mountain. In addition to vineyards, the Gratus estate is an arboretum — with more than 1,000 trees; perhaps the most extensive plantings on the West Coast.