by Fred McMillin
for October 28, 1997

East Meets West at Sutter Home


  • 6000 B.C.—The Muscat family of grapes was evolving in Asia Minor.

  • 350 A.D.—The Chenin Blanc was evolving on the Loire River in western Europe.
The Rest of the Story: East meets West at the Sutter Home Winery. Chenin Blanc and Muscat grapes are used together to produce a new white wine called White Soleo (soh-lay-oh). Why? Well, Sutter Home doesn't like the fact that the per capita wine consumption in the USA is about one-tenth that of European countries like France and Italy... And a large portion of those USA consumers don't like the fact that when they ask for a good wine, they get an explosive red thunderbolt, not an easy-sipping beverage. So, here comes Soleo to meet the need for a light, fruity, friendly wine. There's a red version we described in the July 16 WineDay. It quickly became the best-selling Beaujolais-style red wine in the nation. This generated a demand for a white version. If my panel's reaction is typical, Soleo White will soon be at the top of the sales lists, too.

Food Affinities:
Best-selling cookbook author James McNair suggests these three distinctive appetizers with the White:

  1. Curried Peanut Dip...with coconut flavors. I felt as though I were back in Bangkok.

  2. Tropical Turkey Tidbits...tiny meatballs reminiscent of those served to me at, of all places, a New Zealand winery.

  3. Popcorn Parmesan...a warm, cheese and olive oil blend drizzled over warm popcorn.
For the recipes, phone Christel Milican and plead...(707) 963-3104.

The Wine
1996 White Soleo, Appellation—California
Sutter Home Winery

Postscript: Sutter Home's success is phenomenal. Twenty years ago annual sales were 20,000 cases. Today they are around eight million. Last year, USA consumers spent more money on Sutter Home wines than on those of any other brand!

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. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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