Spotlight on Viognier

Spotlight on Viognier

WEDNESDAY, MAY 18 2016
TOM SINTON

Now that some of our 30 acres of estate vineyards in Placerville are in their third leaf, we thought it time to share about what’s going on here.  We will be providing information about the vineyards and the Mediterranean varietals (Rhone, Italian and Spanish) planted on the estate, construction updates, and the abundance of trees, shrubs and flowers blooming on the property. For our inaugural blog post we though it only fitting to talk about one of the more unusual varietals planted on the estate – Viognier.

About Viognier (pronounced “Vee-own-yay”)

The best Viognier grows on steep hillsides in the northern Rhone appellation of Condrieu, near the town of Vienne in southern France.  It requires more heat than Chardonnay to mature, and when conditions are just right, it produces a luscious, highly-perfumed wine that can inspire an almost spiritual sensory experience. To capture that special quality, I planted it on steep, rocky east-facing hillsides, the coolest parts of the vineyard, where it can ripen slowly, and develop its distinctive aromas.   

What IS the origin of Viognier?

Viognier is thought to have originated in Croatia and was brought to the Rhône by Roman legions.  It’s been grown on those steep hillsides ever since Caesar conquered Gaul. 

Where are the most popular regions for this varietal today?

Today Viognier grows in France in the Rhône appellations of Condrieu and Château Grillet although it was nearly wiped out by phylloxera in the mid-19th century. There are significant amounts of Viognier found in Australia, New Zealand, North and South America. Several areas in California grow Viognier including Napa, Sonoma, the Sierra Foothills, the Central Coast and Lodi. As a varietal it is gaining in popularity worldwide.

What are the characteristics of Viognier?

Viognier is a full bodied, yet delicate white wine and can be identified by the distinctive floral nose of honeysuckle, rose, and violet. Flavors can include yellow fruits such as tangerine, mango, pear, and peach notes. It has an aromatic complexity, and can be dry to off-dry. Cool climate Viogniers tend to have more mineral characteristics while warmer areas express more tropical flavors. The color is often golden yellow.

Why did you choose to grow Viognier?

When I thought of sitting out on the Lake Pavilion in the summer with a glass a crisp white wine, I knew I had to create wines that would be distinctive, delicious, and entirely worthy of the magnificent setting.    Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne are the three white Rhone varieties that produce the most luscious and distinctive white wines.  We’re blessed in Placerville with a climate similar to parts of the Rhone where those varieties grow, so I planted them here to create a distinctive experience – where a beautiful wine matches a beautiful setting!

When will it be available?

We’ll have our first Viognier available in the Spring of 2018

Tips for Consuming Viognier

Viogniers are back in favor both with wineries making it available and in restaurants with sommeliers carrying it on the wine list. It is a versatile wine and it pairs well with all types of shellfish or the spicy cuisines such Indian or Thai. It is also nice as an aperitif with fruit.  Viogniers will age for several years, but are meant to be consumed relatively young and are usually priced under $40 a bottle. About:

Starfield Vineyards is a boutique winery located in Placerville, California. You can also connect with us on social media  for more frequent updates on Facebook and Twitter. We will be opening to the public in 2017.



Starfield Vineyards is an artisanal producer of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot  from the cooler hillsides of Napa Valley and Bordeaux, France.  Inspired by the “star fields” that make extraordinary wines possible in these world-renowned regions, Starfield celebrates the truly great vineyard sites that allow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to develop the optimal balance of aroma, flavor and texture.  Father and son team, Tom and Rob Sinton, bring to Starfield four generations of winegrowing experience and an intense desire to reach beyond traditional boundaries to pursue the ultimate quality in cool climate winemaking. Buy our wine online and sign up for your allocation by joining our wine club, which assures your access to these limited production Bordeaux blends for home, special occasions or as gifts for wine connoisseurs.