I never really realized how amazing wine is. When I say that, I don’t mean that I haven’t tasted all sorts of amazing wines and enjoyed their after-effects. What I mean, really, is the grape and the incredible subtly that it takes to make wine and the enormous variations of grapes that can stand alone or be mixed with other grapes to produce varietals. Having spent a week in Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rosa and the North Coast interviewing Winemakers, grape growers, distributors, and an array of people involved in California’s enormous wine making industry, I have a whole new appreciation for the grape.
The Northern California wine industry has experienced an explosion over the last decade with thousands of people jumping into the industry’s indie, signature grape production. Boutique wineries and vineyards have been cropping up all over Northern California over the last 10 years taking advantage of the vine science taught at UC Davis and a series of other colleges throughout the region. Napa and Sonoma were bustling with eager wine tasters and hybrid vintners eager to satisfy their desire for the next best California wine.
One vineyard that stood out amongst the crowd was Esterling Wines (Silver in Spanish) in Anderson Valley. Murio Sterling who has been in this business all of his life, now has his sons running the business and has had his Riesling in the White House through four administrations. Murio owns multiple vineyards throughout the Anderson Valley and Napa, and talked about the key to his success being patience and understanding nature. As we stood high above the Anderson Valley looking at the vineyards for Esterling, he talked about a longer than usual winter and that this year it is possible the grapes won’t reach maturity. He said that most vineyards don’t plan for this, but he accepts that there are years that the grapes won’t make it, but being in this business for years he has come to plan for and appreciate what nature brings.
We left with two bottles of the most amazing, award winning Pinot Noir.