In October 2011, members of our staff including Shannon Spare from our internet department, had the privilege of traveling to California wine country! Here is the next installment of the trip, as told by Shannon.
We arrived at St. Francis just as the sun was beginning its descent. We were so very fortunate to be treated to an evening with the President and CEO of St. Francis, Chris Silva. He was a very friendly, energetic man who was eager to show his appreciation for all we do together to sell St. Francis wines.
He brought us through the facility, and showed us the production lines, which were quiet for the day. All the machinery was impressive – and spotless! Looked like they could have been brand new out of the box, it was the cleanest facility we’d seen so far. One interesting piece of machinery was where the grapes were sorted – there was one machine that blew a sheet of air as the grapes passed through it, and anything that was lighter than a grape, such as a stem, jack or raisin, was blown away to be discarded. Pretty neat! He also brought us into their barrel room.
Our good timing from Benziger continued on to St. Francis, because just as we were pulling away to go eat some dinner, we stopped to watch the workers dump giant bins of grapes into a large stainless steel drum to be destemmed. It was so much different than the crush we witnessed at Benziger, and so intriguing how different winemaking techniques can be.
Once we arrived back at the main part of the winery, we tasted through some fantastic St. Francis wines, including Sonoma Chardonnay, Red Splash, ’07 Cabernet, ’07 Merlot, ’07 Claret, and two different Old Vine Zinfandels.
We sat down to dinner and had a wonderful evening of great wine, great food and great conversation. Chris really was the perfect host, engaging us in “icebreakers” that really lightened the mood and gave us the opportunity to get to know each other a little bit better. We enjoyed fresh tomato salad, roasted sirloin, and a berry shortcake with a glass of port. We took the port out into the vineyard, where we shared a toast and ate more grapes off the vine as the sun set. It was a perfect end to an absolutely perfect day.
We then loaded back up into our car and enjoyed the drive from Sonoma to Napa, through winding mountain roads, under the light of the full moon rise.