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The howl of the Banshee
Banshee created a delicious proprietary red wine by daring to cross a few boundary lines

More and more wine is coming from producers who have shunned the traditional business model: Lots of high–priced vineyard acreage, lavish tasting rooms and huge overhead.

The newer generation of winemakers are adopting leaner, meaner business plans and putting the emphasis on what goes into the bottle instead of what goes on the list of company assets.

Banshee Wines is a group of industry insiders who cull through leftover juice from big name vineyards around Napa, Sonoma and Santa Lucia AVAs, then blends those juices into incredibly enjoyable, cult–like wines. Wines are produced in small quantities – and vary from year–to–year based on what juice is available.

I tried two recently, Banshee 2009 Pinot Noir and Banshee 2009 Mordecai Blend.

Mordecai was borne of necessity. Banshee wine makers had eight or so lots of really top–notch juice, but not enough of any one to produce a commercially viable wine.

The solution? Make a delicious proprietary red wine by daring to cross a few boundary lines. The blend struts some of the best Syrah in California, a Turley single vineyard Zin source, Napa Mourvedre, Grenache from Paso Robles and a few other bits and pieces that worked well with the rest of the blend.

It’s a stellar example of the blender’s art. Interesting how wines from very different terroirs can be brought together to create a bold wine with dark and red berry fruit that delivers enough complexity and structure to be a considered serious wine. About $25.

The Banshee 2009 Sonoma County Pinot Noir marries juice from two legendary vineyards, one in the Petaluma Wind Gap (Sonoma Coast) and one from legendary Pinot Noir region Russian River Valley. Again, very diverse regions contributed grapes that come together is a rich, luxurious Pinot Noir.

As a Pinot devotee, I can tell you that Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir stands equally with many single vineyard Pinots I’ve had from the individual regions. The blend serves to emphasize the versatility of this grape. About $27.

Savannah Craft Brew Fest

The fest is back on Labor Day weekend – and now adds a Sunday tasting of import beers. I’ll highlight some new labels that are expected at this year’s fest over the next few weeks. For full details, advance tickets sales and more, go online to

Watch for special “brewer’s nights” leading up to the fest. Several local restaurants will offer paired menus, discounts and free brewery branded items at these events.