Trousseau Gris

Trousseau Gris (Troo-so-gree) has a crisp, clean, flowery bouquet with flavors of fresh peaches, honeysuckle, pear, melon, delicate spice and tropical fruit flavors which makes it a delightful compliment to a wide array of foods!  Compare its “nose” to Viognier or Marsanne, with a gentler spice than a dry Gewürztraminer and far, far, more fruit than the best Pinot Gris could ever hope for! After bottling it can take a few months for this wine to open up, some times not opening up near it’s best till the following fall.  In the event you forget a hidden bottle in the back of your cool dark, secret storage place do not fear.  You will discover that its natural effervescence will provide a few years of safe aging!


Trousseau Gris is originally traced back to the Alsace–Lorraine in Northern France near the German border.  In the Early 20th Century it was planted throughout California but by the 1980’s it began to disappear.  It has historically been misnamed and, particularly confused with Riesling.  It is neither in the Riesling nor the Pinot Gris families.  No longer legal on wine labels, some did use the names Chace’ Gris & Grey / Gray Riesling.  Its lineage is from another rare Alsatian grape called Trousseau (red) from northern France so it makes sense that this grape thrives in the cool coastal appellation of Russian River Valley in Sonoma County! Historically this grape has also been used for port, blended into method champenoise and even for strengthening the nose for many white & red wines! While, you can often find a few vines interplanted into some of California’s oldest Zinfandel blocks, the Fanucchi Wood Road Vineyard has the only productive vineyard block in Sonoma-Napa, the North Coast Region, and the entire California Coastal Region.  In fact as of 2005, the only other reported Trousseau Gris remaining in California was in the hot central valley & not even "processed" for wine! So now this is truly probably the last vineyard of Trousseau Gris in the state and perhaps even in the US!!  Highly unique to say the least!


The Fanucchis planted the Trousseau Gris (Troo-so-gree) on Wood Road in 1981.  While they used many of the common modern era planting techniques to lay out the new block they combined text book methods along with personal experience about what they knew was right for the area.  First, as commonly recommended, the underlying ground hardpan layer @ about 18 inches was “ripped” (ploughed) with a giant D8 Caterpillar. The soil below was mostly sand so this ripping, in itself, didn’t make the ground much more vigorous but it did allow for better drainage. 


They applied several maverick components when he planted the Trousseau Gris.  One was a closer spacing of the vines than was the standard for all of the other plantings of the time.  Another was the unique open single wire, cordon adapted, head trained trellis system that Peter insisted on which has played a significant role in producing clean flavorful fruit.  The “trellis system /closer spacing revolution” began to take hold in the latter 1990s and books about it are still evolving.


They were among the first to put in a drip irrigation system as the primary source of irrigation. This enabled Peter to convert the Trousseau Gris into a mostly non-tilled farm which was among the first in the area.  He also experimented adding various ground cover crops to, certified organic compost, & minerals to maintain a natural fertility.


Probably the most maverick and sometimes sloppy looking of his techniques was his insistence on not using synthetic & persistent pre-emergent herbicides in part because of the affects he suspected they had on the soil and the root stock.  During the time of planting, the University of California Davis was heavily recommending the AXR#1 rootstock. It was discovered in the late 80’s & early 90s that a new kind of phyloxera (root infestation) started eating the roots. Most of the AXR#1 planted vineyards in Sonoma & Napa Counties were pulled out by the mid 1990s.  In the late 1990s the University wanted to study AXR#1 vineyards organically farmed and surviving without phyloxera so they came to study the Fanucchi Wood Road Vineyard Trousseau Gris.  At that time they couldn’t find any phyloxera!


The result of carefully growing Trousseau Gris in our cool Russian River Valley is a mature fully flavored grape balanced by its crisp natural acids. To capture the essence of this delicate fruit Peter spends weeks prior to harvest walking all areas of the vineyard tasting & testing the fruit.  After carefully harvesting it in the cold early morning hours he employs gentle handling at harvest and hand sorting over a slow conveyer on it’s way to the press. Then he follows with 2 very critical processes.  The first is a gentle, carefully monitored, whole cluster pressing including tasting press fractions till the first sign of astringency.   Trousseau Gris tends to have very meaty berries so by limiting the press to only the best juice (the yields are very low compared to other white varietals like Chardonnay for instance) you avoid the astringent flavors. The second critical process is a long (~30 day),  cold (in the low 40F) & clean fermentation with NO oak & NO malolactic (ML/secondary fermentation)!  By employing these critical processes and assertively protecting the wine from contaminants and volatile heat, not only does he preserve the fruit & it’s bouquet but he retains some of the grapes natural effervescence (Carbon Dioxide/CO2) which also keeps the wine fresher & can show more bubbles than most still wines.


 Trousseau Gris wine grape clusters hanging it the western sun near harvest 2008. TG Makes a Rhone Style Aromatic wine with far more flacor than Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio!

Trousseau Gris wine grape clusters hanging it the western sun

near harvest 2008.    Yes, even their color is unique!

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