I am fortunate to be working in the Livermore Valley, a too-little known gem that is demonstrating – at its best – the ability to grow Cabernet Sauvignon as great as any in the world. I’m also fortunate to have been born into the oldest winemaking family in America – a family for whom wine has been a singular professional focus for nearly 160 years.
Lineage|Livermore Valley is meant to be one of the great Cabernet-based wines in the world. I apologize in advance if the preceding statement sounds immodest. It is meant only to describe the intended trajectory of a life-time mission. My thinking is that If I’m going to devote my career to trying to accomplish one thing, It might as well be a BIG thing. I’m going to follow the Boss’s advice here and walk tall, or don’t walk at all.
What really gives this personal bet a chance of paying off—in the end—is the spectacular viticultural quality of the Livermore Valley. Oriented east-west, and situated between two ranges of mountains, 30 miles east of San Francisco Bay, our Valley is warm during the day and really cool during the night. This dramatic diurnal temperature range describes and circumscribes the sugar-producing photosynthetic activity of day and the maintenance of balancing acidity that happens in the cool of the dark. Only the best regions have this dramatic range, and coupled with a multiplicity of soil types (there are six alone ribboning through one of our estate vineyards), and microclimates afforded by an elevation range of 500′ to more than 1000′ above sea level, Cabernet and its Bordeaux cousins thrive.
I am most attracted to wines that are elegant and beautiful and balanced. Lineage|Livermore Valley must be compelling; it must have vitality and movement, depth and length and complexity. More than any individual characteristic, though, is that the wine must have a sense of cohesion (and with a blend of the five classic varietals, this is one wonderful challenge); it must seem inevitably of one piece.
The intricacies of getting five different grapes from several different vineyards – from those vineyards through the crush pad and fermentors into barrels and onto the blending table and finally into bottle where the life of Lineage|Livermore Valley begins is what obsesses me.
VI adorns the wine’s capsule and label. It marks six generations of winemaking and stands as the aegis under which all of my winemaking energy and love will fall. The more wonderful thing in terms of lineage is that the VI may soon need to be amended to VII as my son, Aidan Mirassou, is now managing our cellar. To be connected to previous generations of the family who labored as I have, who have crushed and pressed and bottled at the same time of year…separated by a sesquicentennial, is a compelling place to be. But to be the generation that shows that same magic to the succeeding line, and serves as the link to the past AND the springboard to the future goes deeper than words.