by Fred McMillin
for October 19, 1998


Calamity At Cloverdale


Emil's dream had come true. At age 17 he left Tuscany to seek his fortune in northern California. During the next 27 years he worked hard (logging), saved his money, bought a 78-acre Sonoma ranch and planted a vineyard. But 13 years of Prohibition prevented his becoming a winemaker. Now, in 1934, Repeal had arrived and an exhuberant Emil was finishing his first vintage.

Disaster. Two federal agents arrived. The post-Prohibition paperwork had not been completed properly. The winery was padlocked. The first Bandiera wine went down the tubes.

(Sources: Critics Terry Robards & Jeff Morgan)

The Rest of the Story

However, Emil Bandiera got the paper work right the next time, and later so did his son, Ralo, and even later, so did his grandson, Chris. Today the winery makes something like a 100,000 cases a year of fighting varietals. I recall American critic Jerry Head judging in a major European competition when an $8 Bandiera Cabernet Sauvignon won a gold medal, thanx no doubt to the 200 acres of vineyards Bandiera owns in the foothills east of Rutherford in the Napa Valley...real Cab gold country.

Consequently, it was no shock when in my most recent blind tasting the latest $8 Bandiera Cab topped 16 competitors having an average price of $17.80. Here is that big Bandiera bargain.

The Wine

Bandiera 1996 Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon, California
Bandiera Winery, Cloverdale, Sonoma County
Owner—The California Wine Company, a co-op of vineyard owners that Chris help create in 1980. In 1983, Seagram Classics took over the marketing action.
Grapes for This Wine—About one third of the fruit came from that sterling Napa property.
Cases of This Wine—18,000
Label—The Bandiera home and winery have always been flanked by huge redwood tubs of local wildflowers. They were first used on the label in 1982; today they are collectors items, attached to the bottle by a special adhesive for easy removal. The label shown was removed from a 1994 Coastal Cab.
Contact—Lisa Adams, phone (707) 256-0741
Rating—HIGHLY RECOMMENDED in its price range


Ever heard of Markleville, California, a Sonoma County town named after landowner R.B. Markle? Probably not, because in 1857 it was renamed Cloverdale.

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.



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