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It seems reasonable that a grape named “petite” would be soft, dainty and a bit on the light side. Petite sirah is anything but, with its robust, spicy and full-bodied taste. Not only is the name misleading but variations in spelling (petit sirah, petite syrah, or petit syrah) add to the confusion.

The grape came to the wine world through France’s family tree — specifically the Rhone region. It is less familiar than the soughtafter international grape varieties such as cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. It was originally known by the awkward moniker of “durif.” Dr. Francois Durif, a French nurseryman, developed the new variety in the 1870s. And by the 1960s unblended petite sirahs were being produced in California. Early vintners included Concannon, Stags Leap Winery, Ingelnook Napa Valley and Souverian.

For many years petite sirah was mainly used as a blending partner to California zinfandel. It added complexity and structure in a blend, toning down the sometimes “jammy” characters of zinfandel. No need for this grape to stay in the shadow as a blending partner anymore. The petite sirah has recently found its own following with fans and admirers looking to savor the taste of this unique grape.


  • 2007 Concannon Petite Sirah, California (about $15 retail)
  • 2008 Big House Prodigal Son Petite Sirah, California (about $13 retail)
  • 2007 McManis Vineyards Petite Sirah, California (about $14 retail)


  • 2007 Seghesio Home Ranch Petite Sirah , California (about $39 retail)
  • 2007 Bell Winery Petite Sirah Masas Ranch, California (about $40 retail)
  • 2007 Markham Petite Sirah, California (about $33 retail)
  • 2007 Michael David Petite Sirah, California (about $25 retail)
  • 2007 David Bruce Petite Sirah, California (about $22 retail)