Concannon Wines is a California name that’s been around a long time. James Concannon founded the winery in 1883, even if the operation was bought and sold a number of times in the 1980s, the family is still involved today.

The fourth generation of Concannons are now promoting it’s “Conservancy” line of four wines. The two samples I’m writing about here was accompanied by a letter from John Concannon saying the effort is aimed at “preserving our winemaking heritage and to ensure future generations experience my great-grandfather’s vision of creating world’class wines at an affordable price.”

Essentially, a Conservancy vineyard sets the property aside with the assurance it’s protected forever from urban growth. The Livermore Valley may not be a familiar name even to many wine drinkers. It’s a small area due east of San Francisco just a little south of Oakland.

The Concannon samples were a 2008 Chardonnay and 2007 Petite Sirah.

I called on a couple of friends to assist me in evaluating these wines. My boss is a big Chardonnay fan – a much bigger fan than me, for sure. He called the wine a “really nice wine at this price point. It would be good with food or by itself.”

He went on to connect with his inner wine geek and wrote “it’s fresh, crisp, with a big pear flavor, subtly oaky, but not too much. It had an excellent finish.”

This wine spent time in French and American oak and checks in at 13.5 percent alcohol.

The suggested retail price for both of these wines is $15. And Concannon is widely distributed across the country.

I’m fortunate to have a wine buddy just down the street. He comes down once, sometimes twice, a week and we share the bottles we happen to have open. I asked him down to try the Concannon Petite Sirah.

I’m more of a fan of the big wines than my friend but was curious to get his take. The Concannon Petite Sirah is 97 percent Petite Sirah and 3 percent Petit Verdot. Just like the Chardonnay, it sees French and American oak. It’s also 13.5 percent alcohol and also retails at $15.

I found the wine to be a bit young, certainly, but a big mouthful of flavor with definite chocolate and a smooth finish as it opened up. He agreed with me on the chocolate but offered up something that surprised me a bit. He was getting hints of caramel. So I looked at the winemaker’s tasting notes and found “molasses” – I’d say close enough!

This Petite Sirah is not as big as some you’ll find around the price but this one comes from an iconic winemaker and is as well-balanced wine as any you’ll find. For $15, its a real good buy!

Anyone who has visited any of California’s wine country has seen the explosion of growth over the last few decades. That certainly makes the conservancy movement even more important and appreciated.

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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