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Our flagship white wine, Steele Cuvée is an example of the art of blending. The process begins with our spectacular line-up of Chardonnay vineyards. We have worked with many of the great Chardonnay vineyards in California, and have found that cool is definitely better. To get this you need to either be close to the ocean or have some altitude. The area around the Santa Maria 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 whose vineyards are on benches above the Sisquoc River and from the Goodchild Vineyard, which lies across the river. Both of these vineyards add a tropical fruit aroma. Flavors of mango, pineapple and papaya are often there. Farther north we get grapes from the southern tip of Sonoma County that borders San Francisco Bay called Carneros. 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. Sangiacomo Vineyards farms over 1000 acres in Carneros. We get grapes from their Katerina and El Novillero vineyards. The flavors and aromas lean toward citrus fruit and the natural grape acidity is always high. The meticulously farmed vineyards of Durell and Parmelee-Hill are both managed by Steve Hill, who also owns the latter. These are a bit more inland and tend to ripen sooner than does Sangiacomo. Again moving north we arrive in Mendocino which gives us both our warmest and coolest vineyards. 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 is our warmest and the wine has aromas and flavors of baked apples and cinnamon. To the west we buy grapes from the DuPratt Vineyard. Located above Anderson Valley it is both the coolest and highest of the vineyards from which we buy grapes. The wine has a mineral quality not unlike the greate white wines of Burgundy. As is our custom and house style, all of these Chardonnay 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 and the lees are stirred regularly as the wine finishes malolactic fermentation. The real work comes when we choose which lots and which barrels will make the Steele Cuvée. The wine always has great depth of flavor, wonderful acidity and complex aromas. The hallmark of this wine is that it is so seamless and well integrated that it makes you want to have another glass without even thinking about it.
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