Petite Sirah

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Petite Sirah, name common in both North and South America, and first mentioned in California wine literature in the early 1880s, for a related group of black grape varieties. dna profiling techniques suggested in the late 1990s that the name had been applied in California vineyards to no fewer than four different vines: mainly durif, but also true syrah of the Rhône, peloursin (an obscure French vine which turned out to be Durif’s parent), and even pinot noir.

Petite Sirah is relatively important in a wide range of warm wine regions, especially in both California and South America. In California, acreage declined until the mid 1990s but then began to climb again, reaching 4,400 acres/1,781 ha by 2003 and then almost doubling to more than 8,500 acres by 2012, mostly in the Italian-American enclaves of Sonoma, Paso Robles, Amador, Mendocino, and Napa. Accurate acreage assessment is difficult because so many of the old Italian vineyards were planted with a mixture of different varieties.