We were treated to a short "sizzle" segment of the series along with the lovely wines created by these exceptional winemakers, followed by a Q and A session. Interestingly, all three women came to wine via science, providing all of them enhanced perspectives on the science - and magic - of winemaking.
Markham Vineyards. After graduating with a degree in Biology from Willamette University, Kim moved to California. Her desire to use her biology degree led to the position of laboratory technician at Napa Valley's Stag's Leap Wine Cellars in 1989. In 1993, Kim came to Markham Vineyards as enologist to establish an extensive laboratory program. Kim's passion for all things wine led to her appointment as winemaker at Markham Vineyards in November 2001, where she continues to make wines of exceptional quality.
2012 Markham Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley - 96% SB/4% Semillon. 100% Stainless steel fermented. Bright melon and citrus with a long, clean finish.
2012 Markham Cellar 1879 Blend, Napa Valley - 36% Merlot/21% Petite Sirah, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon/12% Syrah/9% Zinfandel/8% Petit Verdot - Now that's what I call a California blend! Fermented in stainless, aged in 30% new oak for 12 months. Lush fruit flavors with vanilla and spice overtones.
Marisa Taylor is the winemaker at Rutherford Hill. She grew up in neighboring Sonoma County. There is a tight family atmosphere at the winery which includes Marisa's young son Ian, who is a frequent 'helper' at Rutherford Hill (and who is featured in the series). Marisa was making her own wine by age 25, using Pinot Noir from Carneros. She graduated from the University of California in Davis, first with a B.S. in Chemistry and then an M.S. in Food Science-Enology. A self-described "lab rat," Marisa continues to have a passion for the analytical detail needed for monitoring yeast cultures, barrels, fermentation, blending and bottling. After stints in the lab at Piper Sonoma and J Winery, she became an enologist at S. Anderson Vineyard in Yountville, where she learned to make Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and sparkling wine.
2010 Rutherford Hill Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa Valley - 100% Chard. Fermented in 25% new French oak; 9 months sur lie aging. Sweet vanilla, citrus with a long wet stone finish. Tasty!
2010 Rutherford Hill Merlot, Napa Valley - A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. Fermented in stainless and aged for 15 months in 100% French oak. Dried red fruit and chocolate. Delish!
Elizabeth Vianna is the winemaker at Chimney Rock, a "Cab House" on 100 acres of estate vineyards in the heart of Napa's Stag's Leap district. Elizabeth is originally from Brazil and came to Napa via New York, where she was worked as a clinical toxicologist. A biology major at Vassar College, Elizabeth first fell in love with wine as a consumer. Elizabeth came to Chimney Rock as a harvest intern in 1999, while completing her Master's degree in enology at U.C. Davis. After graduation, she became an enologist at Napa Wine Company and was soon named assistant winemaker there. Elizabeth was named to the position of assistant winemaker at Chimney Rock in January 2002, becoming the winemaker in 2005. In 2009, Elizabeth was honored by the University of California – Davis School of Graduate Studies when she was invited by the Dean of Graduate Studies to deliver the commencement speech. She has also served as President of the Stags Leap District Winegrowers Association.
2010 Chimney Rock Elevage Blanc, Napa Valley - 88% Sauvignon Blanc/12% Sauvignon Gris. Bright acidity with lush citrus. Barrel fermented in a combo of new and used French oak and stainless. Aged on the lees for 5 months.
2010 Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley - A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in 50%/50% new and used French oak. My fave of the event - silky tannins, lush earthy, dark fruit in the middle, and a long finish.
It was also a treat - and an honor - to meet Val Zavala, Vice President of News and Public Affairs at KCET, and anchor of KCET's weekly award-winning newsmagazine, "SoCal Connected." She has been at KCET since 1987 playing a vital role in the long-running newsmagazine, "Life & Times," as well as other news programs and specials. Oh, and I'm a big fan.
So many thanks to Ayn Allen, KCET's Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, for her invitation to this delightful event!