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The Grapes

Every year the Seashell Vineyard produces enough high quality fruit that we sell many of our varietals by the ton. We have over 6,000 vines planted of seven different varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc and Mourvèdre. Within the past 2 years we also planted Viognier along with Petite Verdot. If you are interested in purchasing our estate grown fruit please contact us. 

Cabernet Sauvignon 

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varietals. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordelaise wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like Napa Valley, the Coonawarra region in Australia and Maipo Valley in Chile.  For most of the 20th century, it was the world’s most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s.

While Cabernet Sauvignon can grow in a variety of climates, its suitability as a varietal wine or as a blend component is strongly influenced by the warmth of the climate. The vine is one of the last major grape varieties to bud and ripen (typically 1–2 weeks after Merlot and Cabernet Franc) and the climate of the growing season affects how early the grapes will be harvested. Many wine regions in California give the vine an abundance of sunshine with few problems in ripening fully, which increases the likelihood of producing varietal Cabernet wines. Learn more about Cabernet Sauvignon.


Syrah is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce powerful red wines.

Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world’s 7th most grown grape at 142,600 hectares (352,000 acres).

Syrah continues to be the main grape of the Northern Rhône and is associated with classic wines such as Hermitage, Cornas, and Cote-Rotie.  In the Southern Rhône it is used as a blending grape in such wines as Chateaunuef-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Cotes du Rhone, where Grenache usually makes up the bulk of the blend. Although its best incarnations will age for decades, less-extracted styles may be enjoyed young for their lively red and blueberry characters and smooth tannin structure. Syrah has been widely used as a blending grape in the red wines of many countries due to its fleshy fruit mid-palate, balancing the weaknesses of other varieties and resulting in a “complete” wine. Learn more about Syrah.


Grenache is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varietals in the world.  It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate and it needs careful control of yields for best results. It tends to be usually blended with other varieties such as Syrah, Carignan, Tempranilo and Cinsault.

Grenache is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhone wines, especially in Chateauneuf-du-Pape where it is typically over 80% of the blend.  In Australia it is typically blended in “GSM” blends with Syrah and Mourvedre. Grenache is also used to make rose wines in France and Spain, notably those of the Tavel district in the Cotes du Rhone. Learn more about Grenache.


Tempranillo is a variety of black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain.  It is the main grape used in Rioja, and is often referred to as Spain’s “noble grape”.  Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish temprano (“early”), a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes.

Tempranillo wines can be consumed young, but the most expensive ones are aged for several years in oak barrels. The wines are ruby red in color, with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb. Learn more about Tempranillo.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varietals worldwide. It is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordelaise style, but can also be vinified alone – as in the Loire’s Chinon.

Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine and contributing finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry and cassis, sometimes even violets.

Records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux go back to the end of the 18th century; it was planted in Loire long before that. DNA analysis indicates Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. Learn more about Cabernet Franc.


Merlot is a darkly blue-colored wine grape, it is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to derive from the Old French word for young blackbird, merlot, probably from the color of the grape. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum and currant. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Merlot is one of the primary grapes in Bordeaux Wine where it is the most widely planted grape. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world’s most planted grape varieties. As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 260,000 hectares (640,000 acres) globally, with an increasing trend.  This puts Merlot just behind Cabernet Sauvignon’s 262,000 hectares (650,000 acres). Learn more about Merlot.


Mourvèdre is a wine grape varietal used to make both strong, dark red wines and rosés. It is an international variety grown in many regions around the world.  Mourvèdre is very late to ripen. The leaves have 3–5 lobes, the bunches are long, conical and winged. The berries are medium-sized and blue-black in color, with thick skins.

Mourvèdre produces tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, and is most successful in Rhone-style blends. It has a particular affinity for Grenache, softening it and giving it structure. Its taste varies greatly according to area, but often has a wild, gamey or earthy flavor, with soft red fruit flavors.

Mourvèdre is widespread across the Mediterranean coast of southern France, where it is a notable component of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Learn more about Mourvèdre.