“Each year, I make a unique wine to honor my parents, Carlton Brooke and Sandy Caton. The special label on this wine is my way of saying thank you for all they’ve done in my life to help me become the person I am. My promise to them is to pursue our shared goal of actively seeking excellence.” – Ty Caton
Petit Verdot at Ty Caton Vineyards
When Ty’s parents bought the 4-acre property on the west side of the Sonoma Valley, a commercial rose garden was planted that housed 9,000 rose bushes and a 9,000 square foot barn. Brooke, Ty’s dad, wanted to plant a vineyard, and after talking to some of his buddies who were part of the Napa wine world, he decided to plant Petit Verdot. Having the experience of developing one of the most rugged vineyards (that could not be developed today), the task of planting the vineyard fell to Ty.
He immediately got to work pulling out the roses, using them for landscaping and selling them for extra cash. Developing a vineyard isn’t cheap! Most of the infrastructure was developed using recycled materials from the Monte Rosso Vineyard that were given to Brooke. With the limited space (less than 2 acres), they decided to make this a hand-farmed vineyard with high-density spacing, meaning fewer grapes per plant but more grapes overall, and no need for a tractor!
Our first Petit Verdot harvest was in 2008, and upon releasing the wine, Ty surprised his parents by naming the wine and the vineyard after them both! On the back label reads a heartfelt tribute to his parents, Brooke and Sandy, whose footsteps he follows every day.
“Each year, I make a unique wine to honor my parents, Carlton Brooke and Sandy Caton. The special label on this wine is my way of saying thank you for all they’ve done in my life to help me become the person I am. My promise to them is to pursue our shared goal of actively seeking excellence.”
Petite Verdot 101
Petit Verdot is a relatively obscure, bold grape and is one of Bordeaux’s classic black grapes. Due to its late-ripening, it’s no longer planted in great variety there and is mostly used in blends alongside Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. Petit Verdot adds color, tannin, and a floral aroma to blends, but it only makes up 10% or less of it because of its boldness. Today, more and more 100% Petit Verdot is produced, especially in warmer climates where it can show its true potential such as California, Washington, Spain, and Argentina.
The Origins of Petit Verdot
Petit Verdot, meaning “small green,” is an ancient grape cultivated by the Romans in the Bordeaux region of France almost one thousand years ago. It got its name due to the small size of the berries and because it takes a long time to ripen fully and can still be green at the time of harvest.
For a powerfully and intensely flavored wine like Petit Verdot, pair it with foods that are as exotic as this wine. It can easily pair with traditional foods like lamb stew, beef short ribs, burgers, and aged and smoked cheeses, but don’t stop there! Truffles, black beans, eggplant, olives, Chinese BBQ Pork, and Mexican Adobo are all great options to spice things up as well.
Our 2018 Estate Carlton Brooke Petit Verdot holds a special place in all of our hearts, especially this time of the year. You can stock up here or visit us at our Tasting Room in Kenwood, now open daily from 11 am to 6 pm. Reservations are recommended and can be made here.