I may have mentioned in the past that I first learned of Speedy Creek Winery from Chris Oliver of Uptown Dining Group, (Uptown Kitchen and The Mark Dine and Tap restaurants) a Tiedemann On Wines Wine Club partner. Chris and his wife Shawn had visited the winery on a recent trip to Napa Valley. Chris suggested I make contact with the owners, Dave and Kathy Burton as he liked their wine and thought they might like to try it on the wine list at Uptown Kitchen.
I called Speedy Creek and spoke with Kathy and we had a very pleasant conversation. She agreed to send tasting samples and my relationship with Speedy Creek began. We now represent their wines in Indiana through Tiedemann Wines.
Once I knew my Napa schedule, I firmed up a date and time to visit the vineyard and meet with Dave, as Kathy would be traveling. As noted in my article on my Napa Trip (Part 2) here, it was quite an adventure getting to the vineyard. It is located on a mountain top, 2½ miles off Highway 128, and north of Calistoga. The vineyard is in the Knights Valley in Sonoma County. The vineyard setting is just remarkable as you can see from the pictures. Their property overlooks the award-winning Peter Michael Winery (they have pretty impressive neighbors).
Prior to being in the wine business, Dave was working in environmental services and Kathy worked in the fashion industry. The Burtons purchased the 90-acre parcel as raw ground in 1986 and developed the property over the next 10 years. They moved to the property full time in 2001.
Today they have 22 acres of grapes and produce 800 to 1,000 cases of wine under their Speedy Creek label…the balance of the grapes produced are sold to others.
The Burtons have constructed a small wooden deck just below their home at the top of a little valley that contains their vineyards. The deck sits under a mossy oak tree and is surrounded by vineyards. On this beautiful, sunny afternoon the temperature was in the upper 60s to low 70s with a nice breeze. You couldn’t have asked for a better day or setting. I was lucky to be there.
Dave had prepared a delightful spread of cheese, meat and bread for us to munch on while we chatted and tasted their Speedy Creek Zinfandel. As you can imagine, it was a wonderful afternoon. What follows are Dave’s thoughts on his current releases:
SPEEDY CREEK ESTATE 2011 SONOMA TUSCAN
Inspired by our Italian heritage, our first blend contains 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Sangiovese and 9% Petit Verdot…all from estate-grown mountain fruit. Aged for 24 months in French Oak our Sonoma Tuscan contains 13.8% alcohol. There were only 504 cases produced.
SPEEDY CREEK ESTATE 2010 SANGIOVESE
Evolved fruit flavors give this Italian-style varietal the essence of sweet strawberry, black cherry, nutmeg and floral notes. Small amounts of estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot add to the lush, deep and impressively concentrated flavors with smooth tannins that linger long in the finish. Our 2010 Sangiovese was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels and contains 14.3% alcohol. There were only 276 cases produced.
SPEEDY CREEK ESTATE 2010 CABERNET SAUVIGNON
This luscious Gold Medal Winning wine is darkly colored, richly textured and has a distinct earthy character with just a hint of oak. The mid-palate reveals textured layers of ripe black fruits, raspberry and spices. The finish is balanced and highlighted by soft and generous tannins. This Cabernet contains 13.9% alcohol and was aged for 22 months in French Oak. This was a winner in the National San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. There were only 336 cases produced.
SPEEDY CREEK ESTATE 2012 ZINFANDEL
As far as we know, this is the only estate-grown Zinfandel coming out of the Knights Valley appellation. This luscious wine of the darkest deepest purple has notes of briar smoke, cocoa and peppercorn that enhance the wine’s cola, young blackberry and spice flavors. It all comes to a close with a long layered finish. Aged 18 months in French Oak barrels this spicy Zinfandel contains 14.7% alcohol. There were only 380 cases produced.
Dave and Kathy are a hard-working couple and have accomplished much at Speedy Creek. Dave told me their philosophy is to preserve the land, grow high-quality grapes and make award-winning wines that can be sold at a fair price. They really do strive every day to meet those goals.
I want to share one more tidbit about this hidden gem vineyard: Early in the development of the vineyards, the Burtons teamed up with the world-renown winemaker Robert Mondavi for advice and guidance. Out of that relationship came the Zinfandel section planted with Italian Primitivo clone of Zinfandel. For many years the Burtons sold fruit to Mondavi for his wines…a pretty impressive client and friend.
Today the Speedy Creek Zinfandel is an undiscovered star. In my opinion Speedy Creek Zinfandel is as good, or better, than a number of higher-priced Napa Valley Zinfandels. Their other wines are also excellent. One my other favorites is their 2011 Sonoma Tuscan Red Blend.
I would suggest that you try these wines whenever you can. Ask for them at your local wine shop. If they don’t stock them, ask them to order them from Tiedemann Wines. Another option is to sign up on the Speedy Creek mailing list, which you can do through their website here. Finally I would recommend that on your next trip to Napa Valley you call ahead for an appointment to visit the Burtons and their vineyard. You will not be sorry you did.
As always I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you care to share your comments on this blog posting or other topics please do so in the comments section below.
Until next week,
Please join us for these upcoming Tiedemann On Wines Wine Club dinners:
May 19, Dark Star Cellars Wine Dinner at McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk in Elkhart, 6:30 p.m. Click here to see the wine and food pairings for the evening.
October 13, Old World Versus New World Wines, Dinner at McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk in Elkhart, 6:30 p.m.
November 10, Spanish Wine Dinner at McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk in Elkhart, 6:30 p.m.