The term “ estate” is not seen on many California wine labels. In the Napa Valley, for instance, only seven of its 475 wineries can legally add the word to every bottle they produce. The reason? In order to declare a wine “estate,” it must come from grapes grown on land owned or controlled by the winery located in the same area as the winery, and the grapes must be made into wine on that winery’s premises. Many California wineries do not own enough vineyards or they produce a range of wines that require them to buy grapes from other areas.
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, established in the 1980s, is one of Napa’s seven estate wineries. Its red wines became estate grown and bottled in 2004, with most whites following in 2007 and the last, Moscato, in 2011.
Emma J. Swain, CEO, St. Supéry, explained the advantages of being estate grown and bottled. “We have the ability to manage our vineyards through to the bottled wine. We know the history of each vineyard. We have the same fruit source each year, and that provides a consistent wine each year.”
And the disadvantages? “In years like 2014, 2015, when yields are significantly lower, we can’t purchase fruit to maintain our production,” said Swain.
St. Supéry’s grapes grow on its 533 acres of vineyards in the Rutherford area of Napa Valley — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other Bordeauxstyle red grapes and the white grapes Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Tasting a range of St. Supéry wines, the advantages of estate become clear.
Pale yellow, crisp, zesty and clean with citrus flavors, the Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($22) is quite refreshing.
Virtú 2014 ($30), a rich and beautifully balanced blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, offers an aroma of pear, quince and lime.
The deep-colored, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($40) exudes lush hints of chocolate and a sprinkling of pepper: a classic Cabernet.
Merlot 2012 ($50) offers an exquisite example of its grape: a well-balanced, fine structure with vanilla, plum and other dark fruit flavors.
A traditional Bordeaux blend, Elu 2013 ($75) is deep ruby and fragrant with spice and all things nice.
As are the rest of St. Supéry’s wines.
I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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