To capture California’s great diversity, we sourcedour Chardonnay from several select vineyards primarily along the cool Central Coast. Influenced by the proximity of the chilly Pacific Ocean, this region’s reliable marine influence frames the warm, dry days with foggy nights and mornings. The wide diurnal temperature variation allows rich fruit flavors to develop alongside bright acids. It also lengthens the growing season, resulting in concentrated flavor development in the grapes. Monterey fruit is rich with tropical and citrus flavors, while Edna Valley grapes carry fresh floral and peach notes. Bright citrus and pineapple characteristics come from Santa Barbara.
To craft a well-balanced Chardonnay that pairs bright flavors with a rich, textured complexity, we used two separate fermentation techniques. A majority of the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures, a slow process that retained the inherently bright fruit flavors. The remainder was fermented in oak barrels, which added weight and complexity with fine oak nuances. Regular stirring of the lees, along with partial malolactic fermentation, developed a rich, creamy texture on the palate.
Pair this well-balanced Chardonnay with rich, textured chicken dishes or fleshy seafood such as seared scallops.
Sterling Vineyards was born in the 1960s, a time when creativity and entrepreneurial spirit abounded, especially in California. In 1964, Peter Newton, once a paper broker in England, purchased 70 acres of land in Calistoga and became a Napa Valley winemaker. He planted grapes others did not, bottled varietals others did not, and built a dramatic winery with an aerial tramway. His innovations put Sterling Vineyards into the public eye and helped establish the Napa Valley as a premier travel destination. When Newton began planting his estate, Cabernet Sauvignon was the preferred variety. He planted the esteemed Cabernet, but his decision to also plant Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot was a bold move. His Merlot vines were the first significant planting of that variety in the Napa Valley. Newton saw potential in the soft, velvety Merlot fruit, and in 1969 he took a chance by releasing California’s first vintage-dated Merlot. This decision flew in the face of traditional standards, which held that Merlot was merely a blending grape, and forever changed the perception of red wine. People started to enter a restaurant and ask for a glass of Merlot!