Dovecote Redtail Wine

2016 Redtail

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For Redtail’s second vintage we combined all of the red varietals grown at Thompson Vineyard in specific ratios to express the unique growing season.  The resulting wines are elegant and light on their feet while maintaining a deep core of fruit, tannic structure, and savory finish.  Although Syrah plays a leading role by percentage with hints of mulled spiced plums, Grenache steals the opening scene with its unmistakable maraschino cherry and blood orange notes.  Mourvèdre offers up wildflower pollen and cured meat, and Petite Sirah rounds things out with its classic blackberry pie aromatics, sultry viscosity, and velvety tannins.

Dovecote Redtail is intended to be extraordinarily versatile with food, and the 2016 is a medium-bodied vintage that complements a wide range of table fare.  This vintage is reminiscent in profile of a classic Burgundy with compelling acidity and a complex palate that unfolds over several hours in the glass.  Hearty seafood dishes such as salmon and halibut pair wonderfully, as does roasted poultry and pork.  Grilled lamb and beef prepared in a lighter Mediterranean style are also perfect table partners.


Established in 1990, Thompson Vineyard lies just inland from California’s windswept Central Coast on the eastern side of the cool San Antonio Creek Valley in Northern Santa Barbara County.  It rests within the Alisos Canyon corridor where transverse mountain ranges flood the area with daily fog and ocean air, extending chilly mornings and afternoons, softening midday heat, and yielding cold and often icy nights.

Planted to primarily Rhone varietals, here the vines sit on their own roots in alluvial sand over a deep foundation of white limestone that once comprised the floor of the Pacific Ocean.  Thompson Vineyard naturally produces extremely small, slow, and evenly-ripening yields that often stretch harvests well into late November, resulting in deeply complex cool-climate wines that evolve gracefully with age.


In the midst of the worst drought California has ever experienced, 2016 was a year where Thompson Vineyard’s vines decided to go for broke and put everything they had into a slightly larger crop by total weight, yet with 2015’s tiny cluster and berry sizes.  Perhaps their strategy assumed the more seeds the more chance of survival.  The resulting fruit had an intense yet elegant profile with mouth watering acids and a surprising depth of structure.

Our 2016 reds are compellingly lighter-bodied than average Thompson wines, and as the months and years go by the wines have begun to express an increasingly complex and intriguing character.  We expect these bottles to age and evolve for longer than average due to the strong backbone of acidity and palpable tension that only begins to unwrap itself after multiple hours in a glass.


Grapes were hand harvested at night, hand sorted, de-stemmed, and cold soaked for 72 hours.  The fruit was then partially foot-stomped by our children and then fermented in small open-top bins with daily manual punchdowns.  After fermentation, the wine was gently pressed and then aged for 11 months in 100% neutral French oak barrels.  Bottled September 19, 2017 and then rested for two years before release.  We expect it will improve with age over the next 7-10 years.

Proprietary Red Blend
34% Syrah / 25% Grenache / 25% Mourvèdre / 16% Petite Sirah
Thompson Vineyard
Vine Age
26 Years
Syrah: Estrella River / Grenache: Alban 2 / Mourvèdre: Massal / Petite Sirah: Carrari
Sandy Loam over Limestone
Alisos Canyon, Los Alamos Valley, Santa Barbara County
Cool I/II
22.8 / 24.1 / 21.3 / 24.6
100% Neutral Oak
3.31 / 3.35 / 3.38 / 3.30
Peak Years