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Sterling Winery founder was the Englishman Peter Newton, an international paper broker. Mr. Newton had some unusual notions about the long range potential of Napa Valley wine, and wasn't afraid of pushing the bounds of tradition to prove them. When he began the winery in 1964 with 50 acres of grapevines, he was sure about the promise of Cabernet Sauvignon, the acknowledged king of Napa varietals at the time. But he also predicted a great future for the (then) unproven Chardonnay and Merlot, and included them in early vineyard plantings—an audacious step for the times. The first wines were produced in 1969.
For the winery buildings, completed in 1972, Sterling continued in the same original style. Designed by Mr. Newton's chief financial officer in the spirit of the whitewashed hill towns he loved in Greece, they also incorporate a reminder of Sterling's English roots: the bells from St. Dunstan's Church in London. The old church was destroyed in World War II, but the bells, now in their new home in the tower overlooking the Valley, still chime every half hour. The winery opened its tasting room to visitors in 1973.
Sterling Winery now farms 1,200 prime acres of Napa Valley vineyards. These vineyards cover a wide range of soils and microclimates, from the almost vertical Diamond Mountain Ranch west of Calistoga to the rolling hills of Winery Lake in the southern Carneros.
A deep purple/red ruby hue, the wine shows a dense, ripe, full concentration of blackberry jam. Hints of vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg and cedar. Bright, ripe, lusciously grapey with a long full rich finish.
Bright pale straw in color. Aromatics of peaches, nectarines, melons and grapefruit, with hints of lemongrass, mint, kiwi and slate. On the palate the wine is pleasingly full with ripe, crisp, fruit and balanced acidity.
Golden straw in color. Aromas of bright golden delicious apples, Fuji apple and Bartlett pear fruit with hints of caramel and pumpkin pie spice. The flavors are rich, ripe orchard fruit with a hint of lemon curd and baked spiced apple. The balanced acidity helps maintain the focus and food pairing potential of this full bodied chardonnay.
A bright purple/red ruby hue, the wine is rich with black currant, plum and cassis notes, and hints of cocoa, suede and cedar. The wine is big and bold, chewy with lingering berry notes and the distinctive chalky Cabernet tannins.
The wine is a nearly opaque inky ruby in color, with rich currant and briar fruit, pipe tobacco, cassis and allspice in the nose. The flavors are reminiscent of ripe berries, black cherry and dried fig, with notes of dusty cocoa, and a hint of anise. The wine is powerful, with youthful tannins, but with an elegance of structure that will cellar well.
Rich, bright pineapple and honeyed pear aromas, with caramel apple and vanilla crème brulée. This is a big wine in the mouth, with caramelized fruit and cream flavors, a luscious heavy silk texture and viscosity, and a very long finish.
An evocative and elegant wine of a deep ruby hue, the powerful ripe red fruit aromas of currants and black cherry jam are echoed by flavors of bright, rich, juicy cherries, root beer, and dark chocolate, classic Merlot notes. This is a well-built Merlot with youthful lightly sueded tannins and a silky lingering finish, a wine of complexity, appeal and distinct varietal character.