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"

The Rest of the Story

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

Name - Conn Creek Winery
Location—8711 Silverado Trail, St. Helena, CA.
Winemaker—David Moore. David didn't know it, but his career was determined when as a boy at home he could gaze up at the renowned Martin Ray Pinot Noir vineyard on the pinnacle of Mount Eden. Later, he would work three summers there.

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."
Grape Sources—The Conn Creek Estate vineyard is in the Rutherford district. They also have long- term contracts with three other top Napa Valley growers.
Contact—Benjamin Myers, (425) 806-3257. 

Postscript:- The Name "Silverado"

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."  

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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