From: Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, CA
Taste: Aromas of dark cherry, juicy black plum, brambly blackberry, rose-hip, sloe, and quince intermingle with subtle herbal/spiced notes—including white pepper, dried coriander, and a touch of kalamata olive—and savory aspects like leather, tobacco, anise, white soy, cedar, and forest floor. These flavors greet you on the palate, alongside fresh acidity that keeps the wine focused and mouth-watering, while fine-grained tannins round out the mouthfeel. Below the surface of a simply enjoyable sip, the wine’s savory, umami-laced depths ultimately bolster the loveliness and purity of its black-fruited core.
Pairing: This Syrah’s bold, complex flavors will pair well with a wide range of foods, including richer dishes that feature herbs and spices to complement the wine’s earthy notes (think barbecue spices, rosemary, thyme, and even dill). With this in mind, we recommend working these flavors into dishes like roasted squash, duck breast, pulled pork, Santa Maria-style tri-tip (a favorite in the area where the wine was produced), or lamb. Amy Meyers' Epicurous recipe for Lamb Chops with Cherry Glaze would be a great fit!
About. Yata Eagle Wines is a joint project between two young winemakers, Richard Schumaker and Max Hara, who met in the Viticulture and Enology graduate program at the University of California, Davis. Raised in Pullman, WA, Richard left a career in engineering to pursue a path in winemaking in California. Max Hara, a Japanese American native to Los Angeles, had previously worked at Pax Wines—a California Syrah staple. They became fast friends. After completing graduate school, both Richard and Max took jobs in the wine industry in Santa Barbara County, and in 2020 founded Yata Eagle Wines. The name is derived from a joint heritage story: the Yatagarasu is a three-legged raven in Japanese mythology that denotes wisdom, while the eagle is an iconic bird in the Pacific Northwest.
This cool-climate Syrah comes from the Peake Ranch Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County. The Sta. Rita Hills AVA is uniquely situated in an east-west lying coastal mountain range in California, which channels ocean breeze from the Pacific Ocean to create a cool mesoclimate well-suited to growing Syrah. Nestled on the eastern edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, Peake Ranch is a 105-acre parcel with 50 acres of planted vines. This wine comes from Syrah (a mix of Clone 470 and Alban) located on a south facing hillside comprised of sandy, well-drained soil.
Richard and Max took an innovative approach to making this wine. Using grapes farmed without the use of insecticides and pesticides, they natively fermented half of their fruit in a custom-made stainless steel submerged-cap fermenter (think of a French press) and the other half in a standard open-top tank. A quarter of the grapes used were left whole-cluster, and pumpovers were done initially not so much for extraction but for aeration of wine to give enough oxygen for yeast to develop healthy cell walls. A 10-day extended maceration finished the wine’s life in tank. This method of fermentation resulted in a wine with smooth, velvety tannins on the finish, and a vibrant color derived from stabilized anthocyanins. The wine was then aged for 18 months in 50% new French oak barrels to yield a balanced, nuanced, and food-friendly wine.
At only 100 cases, the 2020 Yata Eagle Syrah is truly a passion project. It’s a creative outlet for two friends determined to make the best Syrah possible. When daydreaming about this wine, Richard and Max participated in plenty of “research”—drinking the finest new and old-world Syrahs they could get their hands on. This research allowed the Yata Eagle duo to evaluate what they most loved and admired about a diverse selection of wines and honed their sense of what a great Syrah is. They firmly believe that this Syrah is an expression of that.
From Yata Eagle’s website: “We are going to be transparent with our funds from wine sales. We will recycle the cash and put it back into winemaking. However, we are not taking salary from this. The surplus value of our products will be used accordingly: to build a community that actually helps change the system. For the years 2023-2025, we will be focusing on getting underrepresented people in [California] the opportunity to interview for wine harvest internships with wineries in the region and we will be subsidizing portion of their rent during this internship.”
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