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St. Francis Vineyards and Winery is located in Kenwood, directly across the wine road from Chateau St. Jean in the heart of Sonoma County.
St. Francis was founded by Joe Martin and partner Lloyd Canton in 1979. Before that, the vineyards started in 1971 with the growing and selling of grapes — 22 acres of Chardonnay and the first plantings of 70 acres of Merlot in Sonoma Valley. In 1983 the business hired Tom Mackey as its first winemaker, and the focus turned to making quality Merlot. As St. Francis Winery grew and achieved awards and critical acclaim for its robust flavorful wines, the winery became known as the “House of Red Reds.”
Today with 400 acres of Estate Vineyards in Sonoma Valley and the Russian River Valley, their new generation of winemakers, Katie Madigan and Chris Louton, continues the long tradition of elegant, fruit-driven wines from Sonoma County grapes. St. Francis is a Certified Sustainable family-owned winery that has been recognized for its work to conserve nearby creeks and waterways. When the winery was built in 1999, it included a solar energy system, and the business continues its mission to go green and preserve Sonoma County for future generations.
2012 St. Francis Chardonnay is an outstanding wine from an excellent harvest that had ideal weather and an abundance of exceptional fruit. With warm moderate temperatures that produced no rain, cold weather or heat that spiked up and then back down, the wine developed the perfect state of ripeness. The Chardonnay was picked at night to preserve the wine’s flavors, aromas and acidity. After press, the wine is aged six months in French oak barrels. The wine will go though partial malolastic fermentation that will give the juice a rich distinctive finish. Grapes that produce this Sonoma County Chardonnay come from the winery’s Lagomarino Estate vineyards in the Russian River Valley, with select Carneros and Alexander Valley juice. This wine pairs very well with chicken, salmon, pasta with white sauce, and it’s great as a sipping wine with friends. It retails for $14.99.
2009 St. Francis Red Splash is a cuvee of 16 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 28 percent Merlot, 14 percent Syrah and 28 percent Petite Sirah, and the remainder includes a splash of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Red Splash is an excellent red wine that’s full-bodied and full of flavors. Though the blend may change from year to year, St. Francis winemakers hand-pick and harvest this wine with Sonoma County fruit. The blend starts with a 14-day fermentation and is then barrel-aged for 15 months to develop its flavors and complexity. If you’re grilling, this is an excellent choice, and it also pairs well with salmon, cheeseburgers, lasagna and pepperoni pizza. It retails for $9.99.
You can order or find St. Francis wines at Acme Fresh Markets, Buehler’s Fresh Foods, Fisher’s Foods, Heinen’s, Giant Eagle, Mustard Seed Markets, Papa Joe’s, Regency Wine Sellers and Wine Bar, Riverside Wines, West Point Market, 750ml or your favorite wine retailer in the Greater Akron area.
You can find St. Francis Vineyards and Winery at 100 N. Pythian Road in Sonoma, Calif. The business is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info, call 707-833-0242.
Wine Wisdom While aging wine can be an enjoyable hobby and bring you some wonderful drinking experiences, keep this in mind: It’s always better to drink a wine too soon than too late. A vast majority of wines should be consumed within their first one to five years of bottling.
/ Rick Rodger is a manager at Heidelberg Distributing Company.