Pax and his wife Pam had drifted west through the nineties from Massachusetts, landing up on the master sommelier course in Arizona, ultimately leading to a buying job for an upmarket grocery chain. In 2000 Wells Guthrie urged Pax to start his own label and Pax Wine Cellars was born. Based out of his ‘urban winery’ in downtown Sebastopol, an hour’s drive north up the 101 from San Francisco in Sonoma County. Pax is clearly a guy who likes a project or two, because among our pallets was a box containing all kinds of weird, wonderful and downright delicious curiosities; Vermentino, Gamay, Chenin, Trousseau etc. The stars of the show however are mostly Syrah made with traditional (Levet-style) whole bunch fermentations, in neutral cask or tank. The winemaker footprint here is very light and tasting through the three single-vineyard wines, it is fascinating to see how different they all are. These are low-alcohol, high-impact wines of the highest order: juicy, fruity but not superficial. Deep, complex but incredibly approachable and easy to understand. If we sound smitten, it’s because we are.