Dense purple black in color. Effusive aromas of sweet plum, cherry and cedar, with a smoky and intriguing spot-on intensity. On the palate, a lingering sweetness of fruit supported by a structure that allows for extensive bottle aging.
Stuhlmuller Vineyards is tucked into a unique river bench and hillside location in the southwestern edge of the Alexander Valley where three of Northern Sonoma County's top appellations come together, virtually a stone's throw from Chalk Hill and the Russian River Valley. After selling grapes to a number of area wineries, in the mid-90's Fritz Stuhlmuller decided to put the family's name on a label, working with winemaker Kerry Damskey to produce small lots of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from 150-acres of estate vineyard. The cool climate and varied soils and exposures create Chardonnay with classic Alexander Valley tropical characteristics plus crisp citrus/apple notes and a distinctive mineral touch. The Cabernet Sauvignon adds hints of sage and bay leaf to the region's rich cherry, black fruit and cocoa. In 2000 a new winery was built on the property, a vest pocket gem sized precisely to handle the small amount of fruit the Stuhlmullers select from special blocks for their own wines.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. 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.