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In 1989 John Alban pioneered California's first winery and vineyard dedicated exclusively to the varietals of the Rhône, a 250 acre ranch in San Luis Obispo in the Edna Valley. At the age of 24 he had fallen in love with a glass of Condrieu at a time when anything that was neither Cabernet nor Chardonnay was barely grown in California. It had gradually dawned on him that the two big red grapes of the Rhône, Syrah and Grenache, were ideally suited to the climate of California. And so had begun Alban Vineyards amidst a process of furious vine propagation. Plantings of these varietals have exploded since then; Alban Vineyards provided a large proportion of the cuttings to enable Viognier acreage increase from zero to over 2,000 and that of Syrah from a few hundred to more than 17,000. A human dynamo, John Alban is more than a wine producer: Robert Parker has described him as the “spiritual and qualitative leader of the Rhône Ranger movement”: his impact on wine production in California is not to be understated.
A combination of fruit from the very first western corridor vineyard grafted over to Viognier...