Get the Dirt about Sycamore Ranch Winery from winemaker Richard Krumwiede

10 Jan

SycamoreRichard1. What was your first vintage year? 2015

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? ±500 cases Red wine, ±75 cases White Wines, ±200 cases Hard Apple Cider

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? Yes, we have an on-site tasting room; however, tastings are by appointment only.

4. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? We planted two small vineyards on our property in 2007, Zinfandel & Syrah, which started us down the winemaking path at a very small level. From 2012 to 2014 we operated a co-op with friends– purchasing premium grapes and producing 125-200 cases annually. Eventually we decided to become a fully licensed and bonded commercial winery with our first commercial vintage 2015. As part of my journey, I earned a UC Davis Winemaker Certificate, which helped to enhance my knowledge while increasing my desire to make great handcrafted wines.

SycamoreGrapes5. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Why?
We produce Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Verdot because they are classic and iconic; Rhone varietals Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre, because they are wildly expressive and sexy; and Primitivo/Zinfandel and Petit Sirah as they are a part of my California winemaking heritage. My Favorite wine to make is Syrah. I love the heady aromatics, black and blue fruit flavors along with the tannic balance derived from the fruit.

6. What vineyards do you source from? Why? We source our Rhones from the Ballard Canyon (Tierra Alta, Windmill Vineyards) and Santa Ynez (Estelle Vineyard) AVA’s, I’m a big fan of the cooler climate Rhones that allow the fruit to shine; Bordeaux varietals, Primitivo and Petit Sirah are from Paso Robles (Frankel Family & Cass vineyards) where we get big, expressive and yet balanced fruit; and lastly from our estate at 4756’ elevation where we get our smallest production, mountain Zinfandel & Syrah, which struggles every year, but rewards us with very unique wine.

SycamoreBins7. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? A blend of French, American and Hungarian Oak barrels. Approximately 50% new oak annually. I use French, mostly new on our Bordeaux varietals, and a combination of American and French on the Rhones. I believe the flavors and aromatics that oak barrel aging imparts on the wines greatly enhances the wine drinking experience.

8. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? Our winery is very unique in that we are at snow level with no other wineries in our local San Bernardino Mountain area. We are located in an old Apple growing area (which is why we also make Hard Cider) that is one of the few places in Southern California that offers four distinct traditional seasons.

9. What’s the story behind your winery name / label? We’ve called our 3.5-acre property Sycamore Ranch since we acquired it in 1999. The SRV brand was created to enhance the Ranch aesthetic.

10. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? How much effort, money and knowledge it takes to make really great wine, plus the amount of time required for a return on the investment.

SycamoreBottle11. Most importantly, what’s so great about being small? What can you do as a small winemaker, that wouldn’t be possible for larger wineries? In both cases, what’s great is the direct, hands-on control of each barrel and vintage, which when you know what you’re doing, can result in exceptional wines and personal satisfaction.

12. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? I think the future is bright for those willing to produce exceptional handcrafted wines. However, for small lot winemakers it’s always going to be a struggle to reach a broad market and achieve financial viability. Events like Garagiste, help to recognize the effort of small wineries and attract individuals who seek out and appreciate unique handcrafted wines.

13. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? I would say the Sierra Foothills, because it reminds me of where we currently produce our wines, and it would allow much greater access to the local vineyards, which in my opinion produce exceptional fruit and wine.

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