Silkwood Wines began life in 1979 with a Chardonnay produced at Spring Mountain Winery in St. Helena. This Chardonnay won great reviews and was served frequently in the Reagan White House. President Reagan, Ed Meiss, Michael Dever and George Bush also served it and transported it aboard Air Force One to French, Canadian, and Mexico Summits. My grandfather produced Alicante Bouschet until phyloxera wiped out the vines. He planted rice, which controlled the pest and made eight barrels a year from a few vines of AB and Muscat. My family continues to produce rice in Northern California.
We lost our winemaker in 1982 and the “prominent” replacement did not compare. Ultimately, we closed down the company. Along the way, we farmed 540 acres in Modesto for the Jesuits of Novitiate Winery in Los Gatos, plus perennial crops of our own.
We restarted Silkwood in 1988 with small lots of Petite Sirah. This production continued at St. Helena in Rombauers Winery for a number of years until a catastrophic fire wiped out our complete inventory including the ’98 Petite Sirah bottled the previous day. Our 99’ Petite Sirah was awarded the Best Wine from the Napa Valley in 2002 by the California State Fair. We restarted Silkwood for the third time with a business partner in the Modesto area. We encouraged him to plant Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Cabernet. Current production is approximately 10,000 cases per year. We ship to 21 states, Japan, and Hong Kong.
The Central Valley micro climate is outstanding, allowing time for the grapes to mature naturally without concern for rain, unlike coastal growers. We custom crush our grapes in Lodi after harvesting vineyards on Toulumne and Dry Creek area.
We take time to produce and age our wines and allow for maximum "hang time" needed by seeds and stems to mature from green to a nice toasty brown, ensuring optimum flavors and firm, smooth tannins. All these factors contribute to the outstanding final product.
Our grapes have consistently received numerous double gold and gold medals including Best in California for our Petite Sirah and two 98 points/Best in Region for our 04’ Syrah. Japan Airlines recognized our Syrah, and we were the only US red wine to fly JAL First Class for 5 years!
The wine consultant to the White House said to me, “John - I have only one thing to say: Your wines are mature, your wines are mature, your wines are mature.” Our wines are made with attention, care, and passion. Again, we take the time required to naturally produce fine wine. If we didn't, maybe we couldn’t sell it, and we'd have to drink it all ourselves!
71% of all California grapes are grown in the Central Valley, and as a board member of the San Joaquin Valley Wine Grape Growers Association, we fully recognize and support our area as one of the finest grape producing areas in the world proven by the fact that a number of valley wineries are recognized for their World Class Wine status as is Silkwood Wines.
As the Past-President of PS I Love You (a Petite Sirah advocacy group), I am pleased to report we received 94 and 96 point scores in competition with our Petite Sirah from our peers. Silkwood Wines is an enthusiastic supporter of the Petite Sirah varietal. We hope you enjoy Silkwood as much as Judie and I do!
LINDA SANPEI - THE DIRECTOR, THE CHARDONNAY SYMPOSIUM
The Chardonnay Symposium brings top Chardonnay producers from around the world to the classic Californian beach towns of Pismo Beach and Avila Beach for an in-depth exploration of the world’s favorite grape and its impact on viticulture, tastemakers and the market. Our 2015 event line-up will include 2 grand wine tastings, educational seminars & panel sessions, winemaker dinners and plenty of opportunities to talk Chardonnay with industry leaders, tastemakers and fellow enthusiasts. In conjunction with The Symposium, many Central Coast wineries and businesses will offer special promotions and events to complete the experience.
Unlike a typical food and wine festival, The Chardonnay Symposium’s primary purpose is to educate and inform top industry professionals, as well as devoted consumers, about current events and trends in Chardonnay production and culture around the world. But when the discussion ends, there’s plenty of time for exploring nearby Central Coast wineries as well as the hosting seaside resort towns of Pismo Beach and Avila Beach that offer downtown winetasting rooms, pristine beaches, surfing and kayaking, hiking and biking trails, farm-to-table and seaport-inspired cuisine, boutique shopping, and more.