• Pinot Noir – October’s Wine of the Month!

    This month, we’re featuring the perfect wine to help us all transition from Summer to Fall! Pinot Noir 2017 Bottle Shot Our 2017 Special Reserve Pinot Noir has a lighter body and soft finish, making it a great red wine for those slightly cooler Fall days. Pinot Noir is one of the truly great wine varieties in this world. When we decided to make a Pinot Noir, we knew, for us, there was only one place to source our grapes – the Russian River Valley. This AVA sits within Sonoma County, and is known for producing world-renowned Pinot Noir’s. The Russian River allows fog from the Pacific Ocean to channel into the AVA, bringing a cooling affect to temperatures. russian river valley vineyard This climate is perfect for a cooler-climate varietal such as Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is a notoriously difficult grape to grow. It’s thin skins and tight clusters make it particularly vulnerable to damage from rot, so any grower has to be extremely diligent in their vineyard management practices. The challenges persist in the winery, where the thin skins also lead to a lower level of phenolics – such as tannin and color pigment – which can present a challenge for producing a wine that is in balance. pinot noir grapes But, when you find a remarkable grower, like we have, and partner him with an outstanding winemaker, great wines can happen! For our 2017 Pinot Noir, we used a carefully managed barrel program of both new and used French Oak, aging the wine for little over a year. The result is a perfect balance between the fine-grained tannins and savory & lifted fruit notes that creates a beautiful harmony in the mouth. Tantalizing aromas of blue fruit and brown sugar lead to a thought-provoking and complex finish of cranberry and blueberry. pinot noir vineyard Youthful, bright, and fresh now, we are confident that it will mature very well over the next few years. We’ll have it available for tasting all this month! Hope you’ll stop by and give it a try!
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – September’s Wine of the Month

    It’s back! We’re ready to release the newest vintage of our Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and name it our September Wine of the Month! Stone House Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Our 2017 is made with grapes grown on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. Howell Mountain is one of 16 sub-AVA’s within the larger Napa Valley AVA, and we specifically chose this sub-AVA as the source of our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for the style of wine it would make. Howell Mountain Vineyard At over 1,400 feet, Howell Mountain sits high above the Napa Valley floor. This means its vineyards are above the line of fog clouds that roll in from San Pablo Bay at night, allowing evening temperatures to stay warmer than those temperatures in the valley that are “blanketed” by the fog clouds. Howell Mountain Fog These warmer night temperatures combine with cooler day temperatures – thanks to the higher elevation – to create more consistent temperatures overall, growing grapes that retain more acidity than those grown closer to the valley floor, where spikes in heat promote greater ripening. Howell Mountain Vineyard Since the level of acid and sugar in grapes is inversely related, this also means there is less sugar in the grapes on average at harvest. This enables us to make a lighter-bodied style Cabernet Sauvignon then you might find in warmer areas of Napa Valley. Then, for aging, we use 30% new French oak and 70% mature French oak barrels to aid in creating good structure, while also keeping the wine softer and lighter in style. Stone House Vineyard Barrel Room The resulting wine is elegant and balanced, with nicely focused black cherry and currant notes on the palate. Hints of cinnamon, vanilla, and mocha give the wine additional complexity and grace. The finish is long with ripe, round tannins that give it a concentrated core of fruit. The wine becomes more complex as it opens up. While enjoyable now, this wine will age nicely over the next 15 years. Whether it’s new to you or a long-time favorite, we hope you’ll stop by this month and give it a try!
  • Claros – August’s Wine of the Month!

    We’re excited to announce our August Wine of the Month. Since August is when we harvest our estate vineyard, we knew it had to be… the Claros! As it is made entirely from the grapes we grow here. bottle shot of claros, norton reserve All seven acres of our estate vineyard is planted to a grape variety called Norton (vitis aestivalis), which is what the Claros is made of. It’s a native-American grape, native to Virginia. As a hybrid variety, we know it was bred from a European grape parent and an American grape parent, but we don’t know which ones specifically. Dr. Daniel Norton, who first cultivated Norton, didn’t do a thorough job of recording which varieties he was breeding, so we will likely never know! What we do know is that it has been very successful for us. Just this year, on Saturday, August 10th, we held our annual harvest of our estate vineyard. Over 80 volunteers braved a 6:30am start to fully harvest the seven acres of vines. After three hours of meticulous work, almost 4 tons of grapes had been harvested – one of the better harvests we’ve seen in recent years. The sugar levels and acid levels also came in at excellent numbers, meaning the 2019 vintage of the Claros, Norton Reserve, is shaping up to be one of the best! Which is saying a lot for our award-winning, nationally recognized wine. It has been quite the month for the Claros, too. It was just recognized by USA Today as the must-try wine of the summer in the state of Texas. (https://stonehousevineyard.com/in-the-news/) That was very exciting for all of us to hear! While not widely planted, Norton is well suited to this tougher climate. As a native grape, it is resistant to many diseases, such as Pierce’s Disease, that can kill European grape varietals. It is also drought tolerant and doesn’t mind the higher heat. The first block of 4 acres was planted in 1999, followed by an expansion of 3 additional acres in 2005. Norton is a low-yielding variety, rarely exceeding 1.5 tons per acre. In the warmer Texas climate, our goal yield every year is .75 tons to the acre. This low yield enables us to make a wine rich in color and complexity. With an alluring purple/garnet color, the appearance in clarity is bright to brilliant, with medium depth. On the nose, sweet spices are apparent, such as clove, cinnamon, and licorice. Hints of allspice also show. On the palate, acidity is lively, offset by ripe fruit characteristics that work to create good harmony.  The body is medium, with rich consistency and a nice smooth, medium length.  There is a distinct varietal intensity to Norton, including elderberries, and the structure is elegant and not heavy, with warm alcohol. Tannins are fine, though bottle age will improve the overall structure further. The overall palate shows almost Burgundian in some characters, with black cherry, lavender, raspberry, plum, and violets. We hope you’ll stop by this month to give it a try!          
  • Tempranillo – July’s Wine of the Month!

    It’s time to announce July’s Wine of the Month! We’re excited to share with you the newest vintage of our Tempranillo, the 2017. Known primarily as a Spanish grape, where 80% of the world’s Tempranillo is grown, it has also seen rapid growth in popularity outside of Spain. Plantings have increased in Australia, Argentina, and the United States, including right here in Texas. In 2015, it was the third most widely planted grape variety in the world. Tempranillo is perhaps one of the most versatile red grape varietals currently being grown. It’s thinner skins and large berries can make it ideal for a medium-bodied, soft wine. Yet, under warmer growing conditions and extensive barrel aging, you can also find big, spicy, full-bodied Tempranillos. As for the name, “Tempra” translates to “early,” and references to the grape ripening earlier than others. For our 2017, the grapes were sourced from a cooler climate to retain more acidity, then barrel aged for a little over a year in mature oak. Mature oak refers to barrels that have been used for a prior vintage, and therefore have less tannin and oak flavors to impart on the wine. The result is a wine that has a floral note with a slight perfume of frangipane and a little mint. It's rich bramble berry, violet, and red pepper palate is alluring, as is the wonderful, deep-purple hue. It has long, fine tannins on the palate balanced with sweet fruit flavors.  We hope you’ll stop by this month and have a taste!  
  • Viognier – June’s Wine of the Month!

    We always enjoy spotlighting one of our wines in our Wine of the Month series. However, this month we’re particularly excited, because we’re featuring a BRAND-NEW wine. For the first time ever, we’re releasing a Viognier! Pronounced Vee-ohn-yay, this white grape is commonly associated with the Rhône region of Southern France, where it first became prominent. After being almost eradicated by the bug phylloxera and the damage caused by World War I, it has seen a resurgence in the last two decades, with plantings increasing in both France and many regions around the world, including Australia, South Africa, and the United States. In the Rhône, it is commonly blended with the region’s other white varietals, Marsanne, Rousanne, and Grenache Blanc – another grape we know well at Stone House! It is also not uncommon to see Viognier blended with one of the Rhône’s main red varietals, Syrah, particularly in the Côte-Rôtie AOC. This blending of a small percentage of white wine into a majority red wine serves to lighten and lift the red wine’s flavor and aroma. Viognier traditionally makes a dry wine that is very aromatic, with floral notes and hints of stone fruit, like peach and apricot. The naturally small-yielding nature of Viognier can also lead to big flavors. For our 2018 Viognier, we sourced the grapes from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, a slightly warmer region than the Rhône, enabling us to produce a more full-bodied version of Viognier. It was fermented in both a concrete egg (69%) and stainless steel (31%). The egg shape of the concrete fermenter is not just for fun! The narrowing at the top of the tank forces the CO2 that is created and released during fermentation back down into the wine, essentially stirring it. This helps the yeast to move freely through the wine and not get compacted, ensuring they complete the fermentation in a healthy and timely manner. The wine was then aged unoaked, sur lie for 10 months. Sur lie translates to “on the lees,” with lees consisting primarily of the dead yeast cells remaining after fermentation and leftover, solid pieces of grape. Aging a wine on its lees helps to create a smooth texture, as lees impart a creamy note to wine. The result was a wine with pure, subtle aromas reminiscent of apricots and white flowers. The palate is long, rich, and delicious, finishing with an alluring freshness. We hope you’ll come in this June and give our newest wine a try!