Making wine for Chris Daniel Winery is a real family affair, especially since Chris lives in Napa, California. Teamwork is how Chris and his dad, Mike Stewart of Quincy, produce their fabulous wine.Chris learned about grape growing from his dad, Mike, who is a vineyard and orchard consultant for over 20 years. Chris pursued his dream of becoming a winemaker through studies at WSU’s viticulture and enology program. After working in and learning about wine and grape growing in Washington State during his younger years, he then traveled to Chile and the Burgundy region of France to learn more about winemaking from some of the top winemakers in the world. Chris moved to Napa, California to continue honing his practice, and where he currently is the assistant winemaker for Girard, a Napa winery.In 2014 Chris and Mike produced their first vintage, and the Chris Daniel tasting room opened in 2017 on Highway 283 North in Quincy. Why is it named after Chris? Chris’ Mom, Dianne, dreamt the name of the winery. She manages the tasting room and is the marketing lead for the company. One of their wines, Dakota Red, is aptly named after Dianne, a redhead who hails from North Dakota.“Chris learned from me about growing grapes, and I learned from Chris about winemaking. It’s a natural way for us to stay connected and fun to work together collaborating on the wines,” Mike continues. Chris travels to Quincy a few times per year to help with the blending and tasting through the barrels to check on the progress of the wines. Mike frequently ships samples to Chris for consultation. During crush in Washington, Chris and Mike communicate by phone, sometimes 20 times a day! They source most of their grapes from Milbrandt, Stillwater and Lawrence vineyards.I asked Chris what it was like in Napa last fall during their horrific fires, and how that affected the wineries there. “Unfortunately, smoke is a new aspect of terroir now”, referring to the climate, soil and how nature affects grapes grown. More seriously, he said many businesses and homes were destroyed, and there were several days where he couldn’t travel to work. Napa experienced 30 days of smoke, and it resulted in a drastic reduction of the expected harvest, with some wineries nearly forgoing harvest altogether.What wines do they enjoy the most? Mike likes their Petite Syrah. He thinks it is a bold, showy wine that’s a little different from many varietals, and it ages well. Chris enjoys the process of making the “TEN23”, as well as drinking the final product. TEN23 is a unique wine every year, showcasing the best of each vintage. Their current release is a Bordeaux blend comprised primarily with Cabernet Sauvignon.They have future plans to release a Merlot in 2022, a Sangiovese this year, and possibly make a Cabernet Franc wine.Mike Stewart and Chris Daniel: father and son, friends, and makers of fine Chris Daniel wine. Their wine is truly a labor of love. Their tasting room re-opens mid-April.
February 17, 2021