The story of Sheldon Wines is a love story, really. It began in the late summer of 2000, when Dylan Sheldon returned to the United States after the Western Australia harvest to help launch Cépage Wine Bar in Carmel, California. He met wine buyer and frequent patron Tobe Weatherly, and just 18 months later, when Dylan was offered a position at New Zealand's Esk Valley Estate Winery in Hawke's Bay, Tobe went along as an intern. They were married in a Hawke's Bay vineyard in May 2002, and dedicated the next six months to traveling and learning about wine production in nearly a dozen countries.
When Dylan and Tobe returned to the States, they scraped together funds to lease an empty winery, borrowed an old basket press, and produced 420 cases in 2003. By the 2005 vintage, they broke the 1,000-case mark, and that's all the growing they intend to do. They call their business a micro-winery and have a hands-on philosophy. "Winemaking at Sheldon Wines is about building the aromas and flavors in the vineyards, then ushering them from grape to glass"Dylan says.
The micro-winery's results are making a big impression. Recently, Sheldon's 2006 Ripken Vineyard Petite Sirah won a Gold Medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and the 2005 Vinolicity earned 90 points from Tanzer's International Wine Cellar.
The Sheldon Wines tasting room, located in the old Southern Pacific Rail Caboose in Sebastopol's Gravenstein Station, recently introduced "Wino Wednesdays" and "Thank Bachus for Fridays, " extending its Wednesday and Friday hours to 7 p.m. to accommodate the after-work crowd. Tastings are complimentary on these evenings, and one wine is featured and sold at a 20 percent discount. The Sheldons also offer "tasting parties" for those who want to host a private wine tasting in their home or other venue. For the Sheldons, winemaking is a labor of love. And sharing it with other wine enthusiasts is, too.
What to buy:
'06 Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay Snappy, natural acidity, stone fruit, brioche $30
'06 Kendric Vineyard Pinot Noir Sandalwood, nutmeg, blueberry, wildflowers $45
'05 Vogelzang Vineyard Vinolocity Raspberry, cardamom, rose petal, lavender $30
'06 Ripken Vineyard Petite Sirah Sultry, spicy, velvety soft tannins, balanced acidity $32
707.829.8100; Fax: PLEASE PROVIDE
6761 Sebastopol Ave, Ste 500
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Tasting Room Open Wed and Fri 4-7 and by appointment
From Hwy 101, take the Todd Rd exit. Follow Todd Rd to Llano Rd and turn right. Take Llano Rd (2 miles) to CA 12/Luther Burbank Memorial Hwy (1.5 miles). The winery is on the left.