Grown in loam, clay, and volcanic soil mixed with gravel, the 100% Merlot grapes in this wine are particularly intense. All come from Sonoma County, and most from one of St. Francis' three estate vineyards in the Sonoma Valley, with micro-climates ranging from the hillsides of the Mayacamas Mountains to the cooler valley floor. The grapes are harvested by hand and crushed into stainless-steel tanks for fermentation; the wine is then aged in American and French oak barrels for a full eighteen months. Bottled without filtration, it is held an additional eight months before release. A varietal classic with distinctive Sonoma County style, it has strong black fruit, spicy herb, and vanilla overtones, which give way to full fruit on the palate, nuanced with chocolate. Its round, generous tannins give it a big finish.
A wine with exceptional Sonoma fruit and softer tannins, this Merlot marries well with fish prepared with garlic and herbs and other robust flavors.
St. Francis Winery
For more than four decades, the wines of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards have reflected the finest mountain and valley vineyards in Sonoma County. Our founder, Joe Martin, fell in love with Sonoma Valley and established St. Francis Vineyard in 1971, planting 22 acres of Chardonnay and the first 60 acres of Merlot in Sonoma Valley. After achieving great success as a grower, Joe opened his own winery in 1979 with his business partner Lloyd Canton.
Today, a new generation of winemakers, Katie Madigan and Chris Louton, continues our long tradition of luscious, elegant, fruit-driven wines from Sonoma County grapes. We farm more than 400 acres of Certified Sustainable estate vineyards in Sonoma Valley and Russian River Valley, each with varying compositions of loam, clay and volcanic soils. We also nurture long-term relationships with top Sonoma County grape growers, giving the Winery access to some of the region's most coveted old vines Zinfandel and other varietals from acclaimed vineyards.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about half as much wine as its northeasterly neighbor. Because of its vast size, however, Sonoma is able to achieve far more diversity within its borders, which include sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid-back and down-to-earth, but the wines are serious and well-made, ranging in style from subtle and elegant to rich and powerful. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.