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August West

Like many winemakers, Ed Kurtzman crafts wine under his own label as well as his major label employer (Freeman). Ed is a laid-back guy who has had extensive winemaking experience including stints at Bernardus, Chalone and Testarossa. His interest in wine began as an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts in the late 1980s, when he worked at a large wine shop. He subsequently moved to California and worked as a wine wholesaler, but realizing his calling, enrolled in the enology program at Fresno State University. In 2003, Ed joined Freeman Vineyards & Winery to pursue his interest in handcrafting cool climate varietals.

August West is a partnership between winegrower Gary Franscioni (Garys’ Vneyard, Rosella’s Vineyard and ROAR Wines), winegrower Howard Graham (Graham Family vineyard), and Ed that began in 2003. The name, August West, is derived from the Grateful Dead’s song, Wharfrat, in which the lyrics rhapsodize about August West who is down and out and drinks a lot of Burgundy. Two vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs are produced from Rosella’s Vineyard and Graham Family Vineyard, as well as a Chardonnay and Syrah. The wines are crafted in a similar style to the Freeman wines and using 40% new French oak.

2006 August West Graham Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 695 cases, $48. · Moderately light crimson in color. Also shy nose showing demure red fruits, a little funk, herbs and a whiff of alcohol. Plush red fruits with spice and brown sugar on the palate. Easy to drink.

2006 August West Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 477 cases, $48. · Very shy aromatics but pleasant strawberry and cherry scents after intensive swirling. Decent red and black fruits with an earthy bent. Zippered up and unyielding on this day.

August West wines are sold to an allocation list and through limited retail channels. The website is www.augustwest.com. Syrah and Chardonnay are also available.

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