By Lisa Rowlands

Just over one hour’s drive from Sacramento, Fair Play has one-hundred-and-fifty hectares planted to vine and fewer than thirty wineries, all of which can be considered small, boutique operations. Altitude is a key constituent of the growing conditions here with vines planted on hillsides of free draining soil at elevations between six and nine-hundred metres above sea level. On account of the elevation, Fair Play’s vineyards experience a generally warm, dry climate with intense sunshine during the day and significantly cooler nights. Hence the grapes here enjoy a longer growing season and the related benefits of balance and complexity, delivering aromatic, flavoursome wines with a unique personality.

In addition to its Zinfandel varietals which make up much of the appellation’s production, dark skinned grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre have also found success in Fair Play, whilst Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier are amongst the principal whites.

Whilst evidently this is still a small, relatively unknown appellation, there is a sense amongst the winemakers here that they are on the verge of something special. Fair Play’s premium wines which offer excellent value for the consumer can serve only to enhance the AVAs reputation.