Andrew Murray Vineyards
2009 Syrah Tous les Jours - Andrew Murray Vineyards
Passionately focused on Rhône varieties, Andrew Murray has consistently crafted highly acclaimed red wines and white wines in the Santa Ynez Valley for 20 years. His Viogniers, single-vineyard Syrahs, and blends led Robert Parker, Jr. to refer to AMV as, “…one of the shining stars in the Santa Barbara firmament.”
Located in Los Olivos, California.
- Food & Wines Taste maker of the Year 2004.
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Average Bottle Price
He sought out growers who shared his passion for excellence and who dared to farm their vines to perilously low yields with the most advanced viticultural methods in the industry. This uncompromising winemaker’s lucid philosophy is summarized succinctly in three words: Passion – Evolution – Wisdom; the Passion of an unflagging love affair with Rhône varieties; the Evolution of winemaking techniques where even the most subtle nuance is divined from each new vintage; and the Wisdom gained with 20 years of winemaking experience.
Andrew’s focus and dedication to his craft have culminated in what Robert Parker, Jr. calls, “…one of the shining stars in the Santa Barbara firmament.” This perennially youthful perfectionist has been named ‘Tastemaker of the Year’ by Food and Wine Magazine, as well as, ‘One of the most fearsome talents in food and wine.’ Still, despite myriad accolades, Andrew remains the same modest, approachable, contemplative man he was when he first embarked to Australia back in 1992. He is eternally committed to vinicultural ‘Kaizen’ – the unrelenting pursuit of continuous improvement.
As Robert Parker, Jr. put it, “…Andrew Murray’s offerings are a breath of fresh air given their exceptionally high quality and realistic prices – reader take note.” We hope you’ll come visit us and delight in sampling the fruits of Andrew’s passionate labors.
Practices & Techniques
Our winemaking philosophy is fundamentally simple, and has been informed by twenty years of experience in France, Australia, and California. We genuinely believe that great wine starts at the root of the vine, at the very point where the eventual fruit derives its sustenance. Vineyard selection is therefore of paramount importance in our winemaking process. We want grapes that had to work hard to make it to maturity and that are carefully harvested at just the optimal point in their maturation.
We’ve been around long enough to not be swayed by fads in an industry that is frequently seduced by the current vogue. We’re open-minded enough, however, to utilize technological advancements to ensure that the wine we first poured into our bottles, tastes exactly the way we predicted it would taste when you pour it into your glass in your own home. Our winery is a blend of the old and new; the classic and the modern; beautiful French oak barrels and glimmering stainless steel tanks; traditional Burgundian shaped bottles and reliable screwtop closures.
We’re passionate about winemaking, dedicated to the evolution of our techniques, and wise enough to stay the course to produce consistently highly-regarded wines.
Andrew with His Children
From the beginning in 1990, Andrew Murray Vineyards has been committed to sustainable farming and green business practices. ‘Green’ is not a fad for us; it’s a way of life. As a small, family-operated winery, our children have been with us amongst the vines since their birth. The last thing Kristen and I want is for our children to cavort in a chemical fog, or to work the land so hard that we eliminate the opportunity for them to have a future in this business.
Our vineyard manager, Coastal Vineyard Care, is committed to the principles of sustainable, organic, and biodynamic vineyard farming. Their low input viticulture methods ensure that the growing of our premium grapes has minimal impact on the environment and their workers. Practices include attention to soil structure and cover crops to reduce soil erosion, use of biodegradable oils, soaps, and plant extracts for controlling pests and mildew, and introducing microorganisms into the soil to encourage nutrient cycling.
Foggy Morning in the Vineyards
Inside the winery, packaging and promotional materials are selected with careful consideration to environmental impact. Our boxes may not be the sexiest ones on the shelf, but they’re made of kraft, natural, recycled cardboard (no virgin pulp) with one color soy ink and no bleach for the printing process. Our letterhead is made from recycled paper, and we use only chemical-free cleaning products. We were early adopters of the Internet, and long ago went paper-free in terms of newsletters and communications with our customers.
There are a variety of bottle thicknesses and shapes available in the wine industry. Variation in these areas translates to variation in weight and raw materials. Though we understand the romantic nostalgia of a big, heavy wine bottle, its additional weight burns more fossil fuels in transportation, and its volume requires more raw materials and fossil fuel in its manufacture. Instead, we use a lighter bottle, thereby reducing use of these valuable resources. In addition, we recently reconfigured our wine club to reduce our carbon footprint in terms of shipping. We now ship three times a year, rather than our former four.
Our friends here in the Santa Ynez Valley often tease us about wearing our ‘life preservers’ (down vests) around town. It’s the uniform that Kristen and I wear day-in-and-day-out at the winery. Of course, wineries are supposed to be kept cool, but we figure not heating our office is just one more way to save energy and go green. We may not be flying a green flag, and we may not be the grooviest folks in the industry, but our concern for the environment has been marked by a steady dedication to sustainable farming and business practices – this is who we are, not something we’ve recently become!
Estate Vineyards / AVA
I have always believed that wines are made in the vineyard, and that we winemakers are simply stewards of the vineyard. It’s all about soil and climate, or as the French would say, ‘terroir’.
I sought vineyards in a variety of temperate ranges that would enable me to produce both unique single-vineyard Syrah, as well as Syrah to use in creating provocative blends.
In the cooler climes, I selected the Watch Hill Vineyard that lies in the cool corridor of Los Alamos. These grapes are typically lower in potential alcohol content, higher in acidity, and as a result can take longer to reach their potential and of course last longer in the bottle. Producing flavors of black olive, red cherries, crushed raspberries, violet floral notes, white pepper, and that earthy essence that smacks of the forest floor, this wine is reminiscent of authentic French Syrah. I am proud to craft these wines into efforts that resemble my favorites from Côte-Rôtie.
Moving to the warmer climes, I’ve fallen for the McGinley Vineyard in the Happy Canyon region of the Santa Ynez Valley. Further from the ocean, these grapes baste in warm days and comparatively warmer nights. They are spared the cooling and moderating influence of the pacific breezes and the blankets of heavy fog that shroud the coastal vineyards much of the day. The result is a bold Syrah with bright flavors; the earthiness is ripened right out of the purple gems. Black pepper, plumy, blueberry, or dried fruit are apt descriptors of the distinctive Australian-New World tone infused in these powerful little globes.
And somewhere in-between is our middle-child; not the troubled middle-child, but the middle-child who makes peace with his intemperate siblings. We buy these not-too-cool/not-too-warm grapes from the Thompson Vineyard and the Stolpman Vineyard. They walk the delicate political line between France and Australia and produce perfectly distinctive single-vineyard Syrah bottlings.
Indulging my inner mad-scientist, I’ve selected a few outliers as well. I searched and searched for a compelling vineyard outside of Santa Barbara County, and finally discovered Terra Bella Vineyard in Paso Robles. Nestled on steep, chalky soils on the west side of Paso Robles, these vines yield an Australian Shiraz-style grape with a profound hedonistic flavor. The warm days and cool Paso Robles nights translate to a rich lushness with a perceived sweetness from the ultra-ripe tannins. The cool nights and high calcareous content of the soil deliver wines with high ripeness, balanced by a lower pH, which allows the wine to maintain a sense of “freshness” in spite of its higher alcohol and extract. The Syrah from Terra Bella Vineyard is often best on its own or with full-flavored fare, rather than with more delicate meal choices.
I experiment with at least one new vineyard source per year right now, most of which end up as a single-vineyard wine only once, or never at all. These vines typically produce quality blending grapes, but for our single-vineyard bottlings, we’re looking for truly unique characteristics – something inimitable.