by Fred McMillin
for June 30, 1997

Travels with Shiraz


  • 600 B.C.—A red wine vine grows in Shiraz, Persia.

  • 1209 A.D.—Returning from the Albigensian Crusade, Sir Gaspard de Sterimberg brings that vine from the Middle East to the Hermitage hill on the Rhone.

  • 1832 A.D.—James Busby brings the vine from France to Sydney, Australia.

  • 1990 A.D.—Forest Glen winemaker Ed Moody brings cuttings of that varietal from Australia to California.
The Rest of the Story: Ed's well-traveled vine is called Shiraz in Australia, Syrah in France and California. He's just released the first wine from his Australian cuttings, the 1995 Forest Glen California Shiraz. He added 7% Merlot and nine months in flavorful American oak. My panel found a lot of varietal character that's somewhere between Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon...a good value at $10.

1995 California Shiraz
Forest Glen Winery
Sonoma County, CA

Category: Recommended in its price range

Postscript: When I visited the little stone chapel Sir Gaspard built on the Hermitage hill, a local vintner told me of the knight's failure and success. He failed in his effort to be a hermit. The reason was his vines were such a success that people wouldn't leave him alone.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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