So I finally had the opening in my schedule to visit St. Francis, the winery I’d argue that started everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. My passion for and relationship with wine, my family’s involvement with wine, and everything wine in my life. I walked through those enigmatic doors through and under the bell tower, and to the bar, where my old friend Ronnie was pouring for two or three sizable groups and managing everything with a fluency and assiduous momentum that anyone in hospitality would envy. My flight took off with the Sauvignon Blanc, a 2014 which showed all the versatile and vivacious qualities I look for in an SB, a bottle with not just a peculiar persistence to its form and fold, but as well food-pairing capabilities and a stern collusion of tropical qualities and texture. Then the Estate Cuvée Blanc, a white Rhône blend which I’ve always enjoyed an not just from taking to white Rhônes perhaps more than others in Sonoma or Napa do– it’s just a finely revolving and musical white wine, with that acidic subtext and slight oak influence that grabs the sipper and instructs on a different way to converse with white wines. Then the Chard which I always love, then a storm of reds Ronnie insisted I taste. I tried to stop him but he wasn’t hearing it– the RRV Pinot, then the ever-famous Behler Merlot, the Lagomarsino Cab, Rockpile Red– everything telling me I need to fall deeper in love with wine and its story and stay close to St. Francis as a winery and why wouldn’t I as it’s always teaching me something new about wine and certain blends and varietals, and something even more rewarding about me as a wine-riled writer and how to see wine in my life.
St. Francis started out as a dream of founder Joe Martin and his wife Emma. I’ve always found their story and path compelling and telling to me, one always scribbling alongside what I sip and intersecting me with magnetic and encouraging people like Ronnie, and all through this industry– only the positive and the love and family-sewn story that brings people over that small bridge from the parking lot and through the doors under the so-known tower.
Once the tasting was over I walked around a bit, out on the patio and to the lawn, and around the parking lot a couple times, just thinking and remembering all the family moments precipitated here, and where I am now with my wined life, and how it all started in that tasting room, on both sides of the bar. When I used to pour with Ronnie and now just as an obsessed patron; one with a near-cult paradiddle to his ideations and speech whenever St. Francis lands in the conversation.
While finishing my entry here and remembering my latest elbow-on-bar scene I sip the Merlot, the ’12, one you’d find at several stores in this area and elsewhere. Dad used to tell me whenever he was on a trip and he wanted a bottle of wine he’d go to a local wine shop, always look for a “Frannie red”, he’d say. And it’s obvious why. Nothing nears this phylum and forward of grape interpretations, red or white. So I take another sip, find my Self in and on a new flight.