[review] Vic Bourassa was a real estate developer and committed home winemaker in the ‘90s when a lunch with Robert Mondavi at Vic’s Napa home changed everything. Mondavi and Bourassa were good friends—the chance to talk about wine with one of the most influential winery figures in the world was to be savored and appreciated. At some point during that memorable lunch Bourassa uncorked a bottle of his own homemade Napa Valley Pinot Noir and, after drinking the entire bottle himself, Mondavi began to encourage the novice winemaker to enter the winemaking field as a professional. It was at that very moment that Bourassa Vineyards was born.
The first wine produced under the Bourassa Vineyards label was a traditional Bordeaux blend called Harmony3. It received tremendous attention from both consumers and the media alike. The total production of 400 cases sold out very quickly, and Bourassa Vineyards was on its way. An award winning Napa Valley Zinfandel and Syrah followed the Harmony3 bottling, and on it went without pause. We had a chance to taste with Vic and talk about the inspiration behind the Harmony blend. He told us “In 2001 I started my first commercial wine, a Bordeaux Blend we called Harmony3. The 3 was for the 3 varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, all Napa Valley fruit. The Harmony is due to music, elements of the wine come together to make a very gregarious end result, like great voices in unison creating Harmony. Upon the release of the 2001 Harmony3 in October 2003 we received a 94 rating and we were off and running.”
Bourassa Vineyards sources their fruit from a variety of vineyards, always looking at the vineyard management. Vic looks at the important part of helping the vineyard do what it is designed to do, not over manipulation but gently coaxing the green aspect of the vineyard and thus the grape quality.
“Winemaking is an art but the basics have never changed, fermentation of fruit is a natural occurrence on this planet, nature’s way of making us happy. Much has been learned about taste and aging of modern wine, we do listen, experiment, read and associate with winemakers from all walks of life, always keeping in mind our basics and making changes that make sense, not radical shifts in philosophy. Bordeaux wines are my first real taste if quality wine so I tend to make wine in their style. Wine should impress, delight or intrigue, I like to think it can do all these things, like a great symphony, wine is liquid music. My favorite way to enjoy a glass of wine is with family and friends, with food, with good music. Peaceful concentration is my way to appreciate what nature has provided us, to please the world’s inhabitants. Cooking with wine is a special way to “Celebrate Life” and I do it often.”
When we asked Vic how he differentiates himself from other vineyards, he told us “What separates us from others is our joy in Celebrating Life with wine, friends, food and nice music. These are the things we value most in this busy world, we live it in our tasting room, at our fun events and in the winemaking process and when we share interesting aspects of our industry, like the science of barrel making or little miracles in the vineyard throughout the year.”
That 2001 Harmony that started it all also caught our eye – we had to taste the vino that inspired Vic to embark on this journey. It’s actually still available for purchase, albeit in very limited qualities, in the Bourassa Library Wine Catalog. It is so impactful with wonderful tannins that totally blew us away. A blend of wonderful violent, black currant and cinnamon components in the nose, while on the palate you experience an explosion of spice and black cherry flavors. You can almost sense the surprise and appreciation in Mondavi’s original taste that inspired it all.
We finished the bottle (and then some) and got to find out what Vic’s true inspiration—he’s an incredibly passionate man and that shows through in all that he creates here at the vineyards. “What creates a great bottle of wine, for me is a distinctive wine with a sense of place. If a wine has mouth appeal, finishes well, leaves you thinking ah ha, or yummy, that is what winemakers get in the game to make. We want to be taken seriously by sommeliers and critics and admired by our customers for what we provide in the finished product.
Inspiration for me comes from having been raised on a small family farm in Massachusetts, I fell in love with nature and how everything came from the soil and how we treat the earth is a direct influence on what we get from it. And what we get from it can help us “Celebrate Life” with our family, friends and wine lovers.”