|Our flagship white wine, Steele Cuvee, is an example of the art of blending. The process begins with our grape sources. We have worked with most of the great Chardonnay vineyards in California and have chosen these prestigious properties to obtain the grapes for our Steele Cuvee Chardonnay.
The area around the Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara has a maritime climate with lots of morning fog in the summer and cool evenings. We get grapes from Bien Nacido Vineyards, located on the benches above the Sisquoc River and from the Goodchild Vineyard about a mile away across the river. Both of these vineyards add a tropical fruit character to the Cuvee, flavors and aroma of mango, pineapple, and papaya.
Farther north we source grapes from Carneros in the southern part of Sonoma County that borders the San Francisco/San Pablo Bay. Cool winds and morning fog are an artifact of the weather pattern which makes Mark Twain’s comment “the coldest winter I saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco!” ring true. The Sangiacomo Family farms 1000 acres of vineyards here. We source grapes from their Katerina, Donnell, and El Novillero ranches. The flavor profile of this climate leans toward citrus fruit and the grape acidity is always high. The meticulously farmed vineyards of Durell and Parmalee-Hill are managed and owned, respectively, by Steve Hill. These two vineyards also attribute citrus character and acid to the Cuvee. These are slightly further inland and tend to ripen slightly sooner than does Sangiacomo.
Again moving north, we arrive in Mendocino County, home to both the warmest vineyard site and the coolest vineyard site in the blend that makes up this trademark wine. The Lolonis Family has been farming in Redwood Valley since the 1920’s, and has the distinction of organically farming their grapes since the 1950’s. This site contributes the warmest-climate grapes to the Cuvee with flavors and aromas of baked apples and cinnamon. To the West we purchase grapes from the DuPratt Vineyard, located above Anderson Valley in the newly recognized Mendocino Ridge appellation. The fruit from this vineyard contributes a mineral quality to the Steele Cuvee, not unlike the great white wines of Burgundy, France.
Keeping with our custom and house style, all of the grapes are gently crushed and pressed. The juice is fermented in French oak barrels of which 30% are new. The wine remains in barrels for eight months, the lees are stirred regularly, and the wine can finish malolactic fermentation. The real work comes when we choose which lots and which barrels will be blended to craft the Steele Cuvee. We hold back the wine lots that will become Vineyard Designated Chardonnay from each of the seven vineyards. We conduct blending trials to arrive at the best blend for the Steele Cuvee Chardonnay. Any excess wine that doesn’t fit into either of these two categories becomes our Shooting Star Chardonnay. The Cuvee consistently exhibits excellent depth of flavor, wonderful acidity and complex aromas. Due to the popularity of our Cuvee we have bottled this wine in both 750s and 375s. The hallmark of this wine – it is so seamlessly layered and well integrated that it makes you want to have another glass without a second thought!