As a card carrying Italian family member (unfortunately from one family who made really awful wine as I post today from Rome after several days of Tuscan wine country), I love a successful Italian wine story. And that’s what you have from the Foppoli family.
The Foppoli family has been making boutique wines in California for nearly 100 years, but the winemaking tradition dates back to the 1400’s in Italy. Dominick Foppoli came to America from Italy and started sourcing grapes and making wines – even through Prohibition when his operation was shut down because it was not “medicinal” enough.
In America, Giuseppe Foppoli decided to restart his family’s winery when he created a high-end private label in a small production facility located in the North Beach section of San Francisco. He focused on his long-time clients and the two high-end private social clubs that he ran in the city.
His son, Richard, who is the winemaker, and his great grandson, Dominic Foppoli, the brand manager, have kept alive the tradition of small production lots reserved for private family use and direct sales to friends and associates. In fact, it was only in 2002, with the addition of new vineyards on the Foppoli Family Estate in the central Russian River Valley, that the Foppolis finally allowed a vineyard designate to be created from their excess crops. This is where their Chardonnay was born – the first vintage the family has ever allowed to be released to the public.
The family is also involved in Christopher Creek Winery, a family owned winery, dedicated to handcrafted, and estate bottled wines; with an annual production of around 4,000 cases located in the Russian River Valley. Mike Brunson is the winemaker and he’s dedicated to making wines from Old Vines.
The Foppoli family and a few friends acquired Christopher Creek in 2012. Christopher Creek Winery has 11 acres of Estate Syrah and Petite Sirah Vineyards with vines that are 42-years-old as well as 15 acres in the Dry Creek Valley producing Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chardonnay.
Brooks Trabbold, our friend and owner of Chukfi, LLC, a company with a unique distribution model for wineries direct to Texas, who are not yet in the market, introduced us to these wines. He fell in love with them when he went to work harvest for the family right after the October fires. He ended up sharing a couch with his roomie’s grandma and has lifelong stories to tell about #sonomastrong.
Here was our line-up:
2013 Foppoli Estate Reserve Chardonnay – very Old World, Chablis style with citrus and stone fruit. I tasted citrus, green apple and this had a great minerality. I loved it.
2012 Benevolo Merlot – notes of plum, licorice, pepper, black fruit and earth.
2015 Christopher Creek Lavio Pinot Noir – luxurious berry, black cherry, leather, spice and earth. I loved this wine.
2015 Christopher Creek Pinot Noir Reserve – red and black cherry, earth, spice and cola.
2014 Deux Barriques – take 50 percent 108-year-old Zinfandel vines and combine them with 45-year-old Petite Sirah vines and co-ferment them (not blend) and you have the delightful melding that is this wine. Today it is a monster. Lots of black pepper and spice, red fruit, black fruit, tea and tobacco.
2014 Estate Port of Petite Sirah – this port can still be called port since it was grandfathered in on the name. It’s lovely. Rich and balanced. Elegant and layered. A perfect end to a great meal, but not to heavy to enjoy.