Great Tastes

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Seven Stones

Author: Michael Barnes
August, 2019 Issue

Seven Stones Winery prefers the minor brush strokes of artfully-crafted wine. The winery refers to itself as a “jewel box winery,” meaning high-quality wines but small-production releases. All of Seven Stones’ wines are a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc, and the property itself is a blend of a private estate, art installation and winery.

The Seven Stones experience starts with a tour of the hillside property, featuring 250 pieces of art, mainly 3D works, and the property’s namesake structure of seven slabs of stones joined together is based on the topography of the 45-acre estate. The owners weren’t planning on producing wine commercially until the night they hosted Robert Mondavi for dinner, who encouraged the couple that they could produce “serious wines” from the grapes already growing on the property.

Due to the steep location of the hillside, production is limited; the winery has a little more than 3 acres of vines, producing six blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon and one block of Cabernet Franc, in the smallest winery in all of Napa County. Seven Stones’ first commercial vintage release was in 2005.

“The owner is not really a wine collector, his background is in food science,” says Michael McMillan, general manager. “His passion is in art, and the wine is like a consigned art piece with the winemaker being the artist.”

Seven Stones’ winemaker, Aaron Pott, consults for several high-end wineries around the world, and was named one of the “Winemakers of the Year” by Food and Wine magazine in 2012.

“[Pott] says that Cabernet is like a donut, with ‘great flavors on the outside of the palate but misses the mid-palate.’ He likes how our Cabernet Franc fills in the mid-palate,” McMillan says.

Seven Stones’ 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is a tasty treat of black cherry, plum, blackberry and chocolate butter among a variety of complex notes. The wine is subtle upon an initial taste that leads to an explosion of rich flavors in the mid-palate. The wine is a seamless work of art from start to finish.

Pott creates wines that can age but doesn’t necessarily have to, according to McMillan, which is something Seven Stones’ 900-plus allocation list members appreciate. “We don’t want to get to a point where we are so oversold that people do a tasting but then we don’t have anything available for them to buy,” McMillan says.

Seven Stones’ seated tastings are held in an intimate setting overlooking the valley below. It’s one of the best views one can get when wine tasting in the world-famous Napa Valley. The winery has no intention of changing its approach of a small, estate winery producing no more than a few hundred cases per year, making the winery and the wine a rare work of art in a crowded gallery of mass-production. Owners Ronald C. Wornick and wife Anita purchased the property in the early 1990s, adding to the estate over the years. The sprawling grounds feature a vegetable garden, outdoor kitchen, heated pool, bocce ball court and an olive tree grove.




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