All Wine is Local…

March 31, 2012

All wine sales are local. If you’re a small brand, at least.

While I don’t have any hard data, I imagine that well over 95% of our wines are sold because that wine lover has been to our tasting rooms, or had the wine because it was recommended by a friend or a trusted wine reviewer/sommelier/wine shop owner.

There are just too many wines out there (tens of thousands of labels) for Lineage or La Rochelle to be  picked up randomly. So, if someone passionate about bordeaux-varietal blends has Lineage in Chicago, there is a web of very intimate, local connections that got that very rare wine to them. And the idea that there are little well-springs of enthusiasm for and knowledge of the Steven Kent Portfolio wines springing up around the country is really a very cool thing.

Just over a year ago I met a very enthusiastic guy named Eric Bava at the Pinot Days tasting in San Francisco. Eric liked the wines quite a lot and wanted to represent them in Chicago where he, and his business partner, Anthoy Vula, were in the process of starting their own distributorship. After months of bureaucratic rigamarole, our relationship with Vine-o Distributing Company was born.

Last November, I flew out to Chicago to pour at the Pinot Days tasting there, and to work the market with the Vine-o guys for a couple of days. I met some great restaurateurs who were very enthusiastic about the portfolio of wines. Eric and Anthony followed up with them, and now we have a growing group of Steven Kent Portfolio fans in the Windy City.

If you are visiting or have friends there, you can find the wines at:

MK – The Restaurant Tavern on Rush, and the Olympia Fields Country Club. Thanks to these great establishments for adding new connections to the web.

Life is Simple…

March 27, 2012

In the tumult of or our daily lives…wines to sell, weather to worry over…it’s nice to know that sometimes joy is as simple as wriggling in the grass.

The Week that Was…

March 16, 2012

This past week saw a great deal of activity around the Winery. We launched a new version of the Lineage website and a brand new site that overarches all of our brands: Steven Kent Portfolio. Please tell us what you think!

We saw bud break in our Home Ranch Sangiovese and Ghielmetti Estate Petite Sirah and Grenache.

Bud break - Grenache - 2012 - Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

We recently released one of my personal favorites: La Rochelle 2011 Pinot Noir Rosé. Made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands, this bone-dry wine is the perfect accompaniment to great conversation, charcuterie, picnics, etc.

Our Sales Manager, Gregory Peebles, Director of Retail

Greg praying to World's best Negroni

Sales, Tracey Hoff, and I had the pleasure of meeting for a post-mortem drink at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos. A 2-star Michelin restaurant owned by David Kinch…this place is one of my inspirations. I want to be as great as they are! If you truly love food, this is a must-eat stop (they are using our La Rochelle Pinot Meunier to pair with Chef’s Abalone dish on the tasting menu).

Several new restaurants are now offering our wines including the Epic Roast House in San Francisco, the San Clemente Wine Co., in San Clemente, and the Prince of Wine in Alpine. We are honored to be part of their wine programs.

2010 Cabernet Franc tasting

On the winemaking front, I am “hard” at work making the 2010 Lineage. This past week, I have been tasting through every barrel of Cabernet Franc and Merlot I made this vintage. The goal – in this part of the process – is to choose THE best barrel(s) of each variety for inclusion. The wonderful complications arise when mock blends indicate that the “best” barrel didn’t work as well as the second or third-best. This process is can take a long time. When you are trying to make one of the world’s iconic wines, though, it takes as long as it takes. Click here for a short video on Cabernet Franc.

Livermore Valley, Arise!

March 8, 2012

It would be different if the Livermore Valley appellation didn’t promise such potential.

If our Valley weren’t oriented the way it is — to the cooling mouth of San Francisco Bay — and if it didn’t have such an ideal diurnal temperature range, and a wealth of different soil types and micro-climates; the early history of excellence (the first International gold medal for a California wine was awarded to a Livermore wine, and in the 1880s more acreage was  planted to Bordeaux varieties than Napa), and a core group of vintners intent on pushing the envelope of quality, you could forgive the lack of attention the Valley gets from the critic and high-end wine consumer. But it does…and you can’t. Or you shouldn’t, and neither should any of the producers here in the appellation.

There is too much quality inherent in the land and weather and history here to settle for producing less than terrific wine. For any number of original motivations, the winemakers who are in the Livermore Valley have been called here. But that is not enough; the Livermore Valley makes demands and it is up to us to step up and answer them. And while much has improved on the wine-quality front in recent years, everyone making wine here needs to do a better job if we are to be taken seriously by the larger world.

There isn’t always a precipitous event (like the Paris Tasting) that thrusts a place into the limelight. Much more often than not, it is the steady and quiet accretion of quality that eventually tips over past notions, and — in the words of my father  — 20 years later you’re an overnight success.

Not to put too fine a point on it…that’s your daddy’s paradigm. Information moves too quickly these days and focus is lost easily as new opportunities for wine consumers are offered, seemingly, on a daily basis, and new appellations come to the fore.

If the Livermore Valley is going to ascend to a level it should, the heavy work needs to be done now and needs to be done constantly. This is a call to arms!

It may be cute to be second place, but it sure ain’t pretty.