The origins of St. Francis Vineyards began in 1971 when businessman Joe Martin and his wife, Emma, purchased a 100-acre vineyard known as Behler Ranch in the Sonoma Valley town of Kenwood. For several years, the fruit from this vineyard was sold to local wineries. But in 1979, St. Francis Winery was built and the first vintage of St. Francis wines was produced. Tom Mackey took over as wine maker in 1983 helping St. Francis to pioneer a Sonoma Valley style and identify the varieties that were best suited to the soil of the region. Our St. Francis reviews acknowledge that Tom and St. Francis were the first to plant and bottle Merlot within Sonoma and would later add Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel to their portfolio. Our St. Francis ratings distinguish the latter two grape varieties as being the signature wines throughout the St. Francis lines of wine. To see which wines are best suited for you check our St. Francis online wine guide below.
A big, dark, dense young wine that is flamboyant now, but give it a few years to really stun. As soft as velvet, with huge stuffing of berries, chocolate, herbs, coffee and oak, but carefully balanced. Winemaker Tom Mackey’s first Meritage, an unusual blend dominated by Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Clearly stands above the competition for its exquisite harmony. Completely dry but totally ripe, with well-developed spicy blackberry and dark chocolate flavors, and wonderfully rich, sweet tannins. So balanced, you don’t notice the 15.6 percent alcohol. Only in California, and a world class wine.
The vineyard has been a Zinfandel source to St. Francis, as well as other wineries, for years, but this is St. Francis’s best in a decade. The wine is fantastically concentrated in dried blackberry, blueberry, dark unsweetened chocolate, tobacco and elaborate spice flavors. Defines complexity in Zinfandel, although the very high alcohol will bother some people.
Gleams with a wickedly purple intensity, and startles by the sheer size. Huge, jammy scents of blackberries, cherries and blueberries are lifted by charry, smoky oak, while the flavors are enormous and extracted. Balanced, harmonious. —S.H.
This is a very good wine, but a young one. It tastes immature now, with its brash, dusty tannins that hide the underlying plum, currant and herb flavors. Even with the softness of its acids, it calls for time in the cellar to open up its hidden treasures. Try after 2005.
An interesting wine that flirts with greatness. It’s obviously pedigreed, with a very fine balance of strong tannins, acidity and plummy, blackberry fruit, and has been well-oaked. It’s a bit of a brute now, lurching about the mouth with a tough grittiness, but the finish is spectacularly long and sweet. Now through 2010.
Intense, alcoholic, and wonderfully complex, with layers of toast, spice and fruit. The vines range from 50 to 80 years old or more; the wine is robust, balanced and muscular. St. Francis makes a flat-out wonderful Zin year after year, vintage after vintage, big and bellisimo.
Extracted, tannic, dark and dense, with briary, jammy fruit and thick tannins. Blackberries and chocolate, set off with lots of acid. It’s a sensational, balanced, bold, ageworthy Zin.