Wine in the Tropics

Red wine, white sand and clear blue water has become a traditional staple in the Caribbean.

In California and Oregon the bad news, among those in the wine-making business, is that Pinot Noir is known as a princess grape due to its delicacy and temperamental nature; the good news is, the people at Jackson Wineries have been a sort of King of the Hill, as it were, for quite some time, and that family-owned eco-friendly, socially conscious enterprise’s commitment to quality allows profit to follow.

The Jackson Family Vineyards’ terroir (geographic locations, the associated soil type, the depth of that soil, whether the elevation is on a valley running east/west or north/south, how much wind, cloud cover and/or fog, the percentage and type of wood used in the aging barrels) is taken into account, then mixed with the uncertainties of Mother Nature to produce a range of variations that appeal to the gamut of wine lovers.

Larger climatic variation in Oregon renders what those familiar with the wine-making process call Big Wine Drama, and in Oregon grapes ripen in the rain with lightness and elegance, a variation seen in the 2013 vintage as compared to their 2012 crop. Oregon and California have thousands of acres of Pinot Noir, and the use of the French clones has allowed Burgundy and Sonoma to merge. The Golden State’ s maritime climate is perfect for the sort of product that is an ideal export to the Caribbean.

Champs de Reves Pinot Noir, whose grapes are nurtured between 1,400 and 1,800 feet above the Pacific in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, takes its distinct character from the shallow soil which forces vines to work harder; consequently, the grapes and their clusters are smaller and tighter with more pronounced red and blue fruit aromas.

For a glass of something from a far less labor-intensive region, look for the 2013 La Crema Russian River Valley whose cycle of warm perfect California days and cool nights allows grapes to ripen early in the season, making this a reliable wine-growing region. Such is the process’s dedication; in lighted vineyards the fruit is harvested at night then hand-sorted at the winery where the grapes are evaluated by four sets of eyes before production. With this much dedication, science, talent and experience, these rowers from the Jackson Family Vineyards hope you’ll find these soft subtle tannins to be one of their signatures.

While modern transport brings California’s Anderson Valley high-elevation Pinot Noir to the Caribbean, the relaxing trade winds should bring a sense of appreciation and understated sophistication to wine-loving vacationers to any of those tropical islands.

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