Stephen & Walker Trust Winery Limited is a totally different kind of wine country excursion. Located on the Plaza in downtown Healdsburg, this is more like visiting a bar/shop than “wine country” per se. In that sense, it is less romantic and visually stunning than the typical weirdcombos tasting adventure. Nevertheless, this is a place worth checking out for the delicious wine and lively, cheery atmosphere.
Founded in 2004 by partners, Nancy Walker, Tony Stephen and Irv Bush, these folks make wines grown from grapes cultivated in vineyards across northern California. The Trust Wine site indicates they work with growers in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Monterey Counties. Nancy Walker is winemaker; Tony Stephen sounds like he works with grape growers and manages marketing. Oddly Irv Bush’s role in the company isn’t indicated. I e-mailed Nancy and Tony about that for clarification but have yet to hear more.
I like the name of the winery and how they’ve gotten the lettering to look: sort of like an old fashioned bank bond or something. Very cool. I don’t quite understand what the name’s supposed to mean exactly, though whatever it is, to me, it suggests confidence in their products. In the section of their web site on the Healdsburg tasting room, they suggest that you go and “taste our cult wines.” That sounds a bit funny bordering on pretentious, though they are pretty good, so perhaps the trio are planning for the future.
One last note before describing the numerous wines that we tried: I’ve a feeling that we’d be soul-mates with Nancy, Tony, et al. after reading their recipes for Grilled Bruschetta with Rosemary-White Bean Puree & Heirloom Tomatoes and Tapenade. Those with red wine are right up the weirdcombos alley.
2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast: A reddish purple with a nose of cherry and other red fruit as well as tobacco. Hegui thought it was “a good smell.” It followed through on red fruit and some pepper. I thought it just okay though the other three all admired it.
2009 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast: As above, a reddish purple with some green pepper, smoke, and hints of lemon verbena led to red fruit and a peppery finish.
2008 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley: Purple black in color with lots of earthy mineral notes with red fruit, mineral and a peppery finish on a medium frame.
2009 Zinfandel, Russian River Valley: Purple black with a barnyard-like nose with some banana, this had a lovely creamy texture full of fruit and mineral flavors.
2010 Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley: Purple to black with pomegranate, lettuce and leather notes with chewy tannins, red fruit and some peppery heat.
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley: A deep purple with blue fruit and forest floor, this was smooth with supple tannins and a long finish. We all enjoyed this one.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley: Purple black with a greener smell and a more luscious and creamy texture. Here the tannins bit harder.
2004 Portentous California: This wine with the fun name is a California version of Port. Purple in color with a nose of ultra ripe stone fruit and spice box, this tasted of jammy fruit, vanilla and chocolate. Yum.
2009 Patrona, Muscat Canelli, Alexander Valley: A transparent wine with a nose of sweet ripe peach, it was sweet, rich with yellow stone fruit and a hint of mineral. We thought of it as “summer cool-aid” for adults.
2010 Chardonnay, Botrytis, Mendocino Ridge: A pale golden yellow with sweet over ripe fruit.