• 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!
  • Angela’s Wish – April’s Wine of the Month!

    It’s time for the April installment of our Wine of the Month series. In April, we’ll be featuring the newest vintage of our Angela’s Wish, an old-vine blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Shiraz from the Barossa Valley of South Australia. Fun fact - the grapes for Angela’s Wish come from the same vineyard as those that go into two previous Wine of the Month’s, Basket Press Shiraz and The Survivor. And if you’ve been keeping up with our Wine of the Month, you’ll know that that vineyard was planted almost 100 years ago, in 1923, and that an old-vine wine means you’re in for a lot of full flavors. Also, in line with all three of our previous Wine of the Month’s, it has a great story behind its name. It’s named for our owner Angela and her wish, which is to make great wine from her home country of Australia. As for the name’s inception, the story goes that, at the start of his working with us, our Winemaker in Australia asked Angela what she wanted him to make. She jokingly - or only half-jokingly, really - replied, “Great wine.” When it came time to present her with the first ever sample of this wine, he had labeled it, “Angela’s Wish.” He also was joking, but the name stuck, and, as the first wine made by us in Australia, it has been with us from the very beginning. “As a child I was inextricably linked to the Barossa,” Angela said. “I have always taken great comfort from this subtle connection, no matter where in the world I called home. It has long been a wish of mine to share the place I was born with others. Now with this wine I finally can. The varietal combination is one of the great partnerships of all time. Barossa Cabernet and Barossa Shiraz are made for each other, just as this wine has been made for you.” Angela’s Wish presents a deep, dense red color, with hints of purple lingering around the meniscus. On the nose is spearmint perfume layered over cassis, red currant, and summer berries. Lifted vanilla oak blends back and is filled out with the complexity of the spicy French oak, giving it beautiful balance. On the palette, the initial richness of the full berry characters is finely complimented against firm oak and fruit tannins. Good acid balance against the fruit sweetness cleanses the mouth, and the middle palate is a full, big-berry hit of Cabernet Sauvignon, supported by the leathery richness of Shiraz. It finishes with a complexity brought about by extended lees contact. We hope you’ll stop by this April to give Angela's Wish a try!
  • Triumvirate – March’s Wine of the Month!

    The word “Triumvirate” comes from Ancient Rome and was used to designate when a group of three equal rulers was in power, such as Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus in 60 BC. Our newest wine is named for two such formidable threesomes: Angela’s siblings - Stella, Alexander, and Una; and the grapes that make up this wine’s blend - Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvèdre. The 2016 Triumvirate comes to us from the Barossa Valley of South Australia. The name was inspired by the cohesive relationship of the siblings, which overlaps with the wine, a highly aromatic, alluring, and authentic red. The siblings and the grapes are all well-bred and leaders in their chosen fields. The blending of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvèdre, commonly referred to as a ‘GSM,’ is a traditional and common practice in the Côtes du Rhône region in Southern France. Grenache is considered to be the lightest of the three grapes, both in flavor and color. It’s known to add notes of red fruit, such as cranberry and raspberry, and is usually the largest portion of the GSM blend. It also dominates vineyards in the Southern Rhône. Syrah, or Shiraz, is the dominate red grape in the Northern Rhône, and can help enhance the body and structure of a blend. It typically provides darker fruit notes, like plum and blackberry, as well as savory black pepper spice. Last, but certainly not least, Mourvèdre helps to round out the blend’s finish by adding tannin. A bigger grape, like the Shiraz, it also adds darker fruit, like blueberry, and floral notes. The naming of this wine also follows in our tradition of naming wines for extended members of the Stone House family. Our Cuvée Cuddles sparkling is named for Angela’s mother, Lady Mary Downer, known affectionately as ‘Cuddles.’ We also have our Scheming Beagle port, named for our winery dogs, Duhg and Schopenhauer (who happens to be celebrating his birthday this month). And we can’t leave out Angela’s Wish! This Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blend is named for our owner Angela’s first partnership with our Australian winemaker. We also know the Triumvirate will follow these wines in being a favorite among our customers. It’s a strong name for a strong wine!
  • The Survivor – February’s Wine of the Month!

    It’s time to announce our next ‘Wine of the Month!’ This February we’re celebrating the new, 2017 vintage of The Survivor.   This old vine blend of 25% Grenache and 75% Shiraz comes to us from the Barossa Valley of South Australia. The vines that produce this wine were planted in 1923, making them nearly 100 years old. These vines’ maturity shows in the finished wine. Vines notice a decline in their yield around 40 years of age. Essentially, the plant is no longer able to grow as many grapes as it used to. However, since the vine is growing less grapes, it has more energy to spend ripening that smaller number. The result is that old vines typically produce much riper grapes at the time of harvest, leading to bigger, bolder flavors. Old vine wines also tend to be fruit forward on the palate, since riper grapes show their fruit characteristics more. They also produce higher sugar content in the grapes, leading to a higher alcohol level in the finished wine. So, overall, old vines mean big wines! The Survivor is no exception, with its dark color and nicely focused black cherry, strawberry, and currant flavors. Hints of cinnamon, vanilla, and mocha give the wine additional complexity. Aged in 30% new French oak and 70% mature French oak barrels, the palate is rich and elegant, with a velvety mouth feel and a long, spicy finish. For an old vine wine, it shows amazing balance, which is no small feat when dealing with such big components. And why did we choose to call this wine ‘The Survivor’? It’s a nod to the strong history of Australian winemaking. The Barossa Valley has some of the world’s longest, continuously operating wineries. To mark this unique characteristic, Barossa Valley grape growers got together in 2009 and created the Barossa Old Vine Charter, which listed the area’s vineyards by age, in order to help promote and preserve these historic vineyards. To be considered a “Survivor,” your vines have to be at least 70 years old, a criteria The Survivor easily met. It is said these vines have “weathered the worst of many storms, both man-made and naturally occurring, including the infamous 1980s Vine Pull Scheme. A Barossa Survivor vine has reached a significant milestone and pays homage to the resolute commitment of those growers and winemakers who value the quality and structure of old vine wines.” (Barossa Old Vine Charter)   The Vine Pull Scheme was a decision made by the Australian government in 1980 to pay grape growers to pull up their vines if the varietals they were growing were deemed undesirable by the global wine market. For example, many Grenache and Mourvedre vines were uprooted and replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon and chardonnay, since they were more popular with consumers. It was an attempt to buoy a faltering Australian wine industry, but has had the unfortunate affect of losing many acres of older and unique vines in Australia. Hence the need to celebrate those that survive to this day. The Survivor will be available for tasting all month, and we hope you’ll stop by to give it a try!