True entrepreneurship happens every day in the far reaches of California, Oregon, Washington, New York, Virginia, Texas, Michigan and wherever else wine is made in America. And there’s no audience of Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran or Mr. Wonderful to pitch to, nor the probing eye of the TV camera in a Shark Tank studio to tell the world what you’ve been up to. There’s people like David Scheidt, proprietor and winemaker of MASTRO SCHEIDT FAMILY CELLARS of Sonoma, California, established in 2007, who make exemplary wine within the confines of a minimalist operational structure. These artisans see razor-thin margins, squeezed by distribution platforms, such as flash sale websites and big box warehouse stores, that have the leverage to demand steep wholesale discounts. And, not to mention there’s a hidden cost to all that free shipping that’s the de rigueur standard among online shoppers of today. It’s really quite heroic that small producers of wine find the will to survive in these economic waters, where it seems the big sharks swallow the little fish whole—only to spit them out for whales to come along and feed.
The winery’s 2013 Sonoma County Red Blend is a fantastic wine taking part in the grand experiment that is occurring at the facilities of young wineries in America right now. It’s a certain attitude among winemakers—a carefree, whimsical fortitude to follow one’s muse wherever she may take you, a notably brave esthetic of what-the-fuck chance-taking. So, that explains the insane. one-time-only blend of grapes that goes into this wine: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. And somehow . . . it works, not just impressively but really deliciously. You can tell from the red blend’s nose—a mélange of aromas of purple flowers and fruit, cherries and blackberries—that this is a fruit-forward concoction that’s going to be louder than a bomb. What keeps it from melting your face is the wine’s lean, clean, suave texture that drives it forward to a bright spark of acidity that refreshes the palate. Yeah, “Sonoma County Red Blend” might be a rather bland moniker as compared to a lot of the catchy names out there for red blends, but take this sign of humility as an invitation to try out the inventive product of an authentic American wine-trepreneur. –J.M.
Great Wine: Sebastiani Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon