When winemaker Ron Pieretti first set foot on the vibrant red soil of the 25-acre parcel nestled within a tight valley, he saw the jagged rock outcroppings and Indian grinding stones; he felt the dichotomy of the sun and the distinct coolness that drifted over the grassy hills, and he knew it was no ordinary place.
It was quite by accident that he and his business partner, Wendy Sanda, came across this tucked-away treasure on Appaloosa Road between Copperopolis and Angels Camp. They had been searching for a place to plant their dreams, throughout prolific wine regions like Sonoma and Napa, but the ripe potential of the Calaveras County location captured their hearts.
“It was serendipity. We got lucky. We walked it and knew this was it,” Pieretti remembers, sitting comfortably beside rows of musky oak barrels. “There’s a really special energy that people get from this place.”
That energy is also transferred into the wine. There is a strong sense of place when wandering Prospect 772 that lends itself to the flavor of the vineyard’s staple Rhone varietals.
“Philosophically, our process is about letting our vineyard express itself,” Pieretti explains. “The vineyard does the blend.”
And critics have taken notice. With its first release, Prospect 772 garnered high scores in Wine Spectator magazine with The Brat 2005, a Grenache and Syrah blend, and The Brawler of the same year, a Syrah-based blend with a touch of Viognier.
Prospect 772’s wines have been featured in the magazine virtually every year since. This year so far, The Brawler 2016 scored 93 points and at $39 per bottle, was an affordable choice among comparable California Syrah blends costing up to $180. The Truant 2016, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, also scored 93 points in the California Rhone Varieties section and was noted as “vibrant and expressive.”
“There’s a high level of artistry that sets this winery apart,” says Sanda’s cousin, Darrell Lavin, who often visits Prospect 772 to help out and relax. “I’ve seen what they do and the work they put into it – the high level of detail.”
But Pieretti insists that there are no “big secrets” to his winemaking process beyond the techniques and care it takes to produce only 1,200 cases per year. He says the success of his wine is only a testament to what Calaveras County is capable of.
“The county itself is a growing region, on the cusp of becoming more well-known and respected,” he says. “There are a lot of great winemakers here making amazing wines, and people appreciate the vibe, the people and the prices.”
For its 300 members and anyone else looking for a restorative weekend escape, Prospect 772 remains a welcoming gateway to that Calaveras “vibe,” hosting weddings and events such as its annual rabbit and polenta dinner, woodfire pizza nights with live music, and camping in the vineyard.
“It’s a great getaway,” says Sanda, who spends much of her time in the Bay Area working in real estate. “It’s amazing what we’re doing here. It’s very special and magical.”
For more information on Prospect 772, visit prospect772.com .
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