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by Fred McMillin
for April 3, 1998
Winery of the Week
Conn Creek, Whatta Boutique
The great Andre Tchlistcheff: "Good color," said Andre, tilting the glass against the light. "The malolactic's in that silkiness. Very concentrated." He poured the wine into a bucket and thrust his nose into the empty glass. "That's what Cabernet should smell like---cherries."
...James Conaway, "Napa"
Andre was tasting a Conn Creek Cab a decade ago, where he was the winemaking consultant. The quality was hardly a suprise. Let's look at the Silverado winery's origins.
1974—Veteran Napa Valley grape growers Bill (ex-Navy electronics specialist.) and Kathy Collins form a partnership with Stanford prof Bill Beaver and wife Mary to establish a winery named after Napa Valley's Conn Creek. The Cabs were an instant success, critics calling them "magnificent" and "monumental."
1987—Stimson Lane has bought the winery and added firepower by hiring Tchlistcheff as consultant.
1990—The 3000-case boutique winery decides to focus exclusively on Cabernet Sauvignon and blends with other Bordeaux grapes.
The 1991 blend, named Anthology, is "amazingly complex and well crafted...tremendous," wrote critic James Laube.
1998—Current releases are a $20 '94 Cab and a $37 '94 Anthology. Total production under 5,000 cases...going fast.
Just the Facts
- Conn Creek Winery
Though he started in Mechanical Engineering,
inevitably he graduated from U.C.-Davis in
Fermentation Science. He is very enthusiastic
about the '94 Anthology..."It brings us one
step closer to perfection."
Robert Louis Stevenson described the situation in 1880. "It was but a while ago that Silverado was a great place [in the Napa Valley]. The mine--a silver mine, of course--had promised great things. There was quite a lively population, with several hotels and boarding-houses. Now there is no one living in the town but Rufe the hunter."
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