SCHRAMSBERG SPARKLING WINES AND THE POLITICAL CONNECTION
By Michael Hepworth
Schramsberg Wines are based in Calistoga, California, and the relatively high end Winery has been family owned since 1965 at the original estate started by German Immigrant Jacob Schram in 1862. Interestingly at that time their were 21 wineries
In Napa Valley utilizing less than 50 acres of vineyards planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The winery ceased operations in 1912 seven years after the death of Jacob Schram, and re-opened in 1965 when the property and land was purchased by Jack and Jaimie Davis. Today the winery is run by Hugh Davies, who was born a month after his family took over.
There are nine sparkling wines in the collection and the winery uses the Methode Traditionnelle to produce the signature vintage of Reserve, J.Schram and J.Schram Rose along with the classic vintages of Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Brut Rose and Cremant, and the multi vintages of Mirabelle and Mirabelle Rose.
Only 60,000 cases are produced annually in total, and the production of the two signature vintages totals only 2,500 cases between them.The grapes are hand Harvested, wines are handcrafted and the bottles are stacked in underground caves. The caves were dug into the hills by Chinese laborers over 130 years ago and cover 34,000 square foot where up to 2.7 million bottles are aged up to a seven year period.
The winemakers draw from over 90 individual vineyards to create 200 base wines yearly which are then used to create the Schramsberg Wines. This place has some serious history including a visit by my favorite author Robert Louis Stevenson who came in 1880 where he wrote about it in his book ‘Silverado Squatters.’
Talking of politics and the White House, the first Commander in Chief to taste them was President Harrison in 1891. Since then the wines came into prominence when several cases were shipped to China in 1972 for President Nixon’s ground breaking visit. They have been present at many White House functions, and more recently President Obama’s White House Dinner for Bilateral Chairpersons of the Congressional Committees.
The 2011 Blanc de Blancs ($38) is a dry and crisp wine that is extremely versatile either served as an aperitif or with a variety of foods and especially see food and shellfish. All kinds of fruity flavors when you taste it, this wine can be kept for a long time and is exceptional value.
The 2010 Brut Rose ($43) is influenced by 75% Pinot Noir grown in Marin/Sonoma and in Anderson Valley further north in Mendocino. The remaining 25% of Chardonnay gives the sparkling wine spice and structure. Tasting notes indicate a wine full of strawberry, mandarin orange and red grapefruit. For those of us into citrus, this is a worthy purchase that can be brought out at birthdays, celebrations or any special event.
Hours: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (7 days a week)
Cellar Tours and Private tastings by appointment only.