Young Guns, Good Wines

If Ryan Moreland’s parents had a wheat field instead of a vineyard, he’d probably be making artisan bread from family grain.

But Ryan lives in St. Helena. His family has a small plot of sauvignon blanc. Naturally, he’s got wine fever.

Ryan Moreland

The 20-something has channeled his energy into winemaking. He has  his own label, Corvalle, with three wines currently for sale and a fourth due for release later this year.

Production is miniscule, but hopes are high.

I found something to like in all of Corvalle’s offerings at a tasting last weekend. The event, held in a warehouse wine making space near the Napa airport, featured “millenial” winemakers (35 and under).

I especially enjoyed the Corvalle 2010 sauvignon blanc, from a 1-acre vineyard in Rutherford, which is also home to iconic wineries like Grgich Hills Estate, Caymus and Cakebread Cellars. The neighborhood is a hotspot for big red wines, but this is a finely crafted sauvignon blanc ($24) that tastes great on its own and would also hold up well with grilled chicken or fish.

Also likeable was the Corvalle 2010 Weka Ranch Vineyard chardonnay ($21/bottle) from the Oak Knoll District and a pleasant rose’ made from an unusual 50/50 mix of Carneros pinot noir and Rutherford cabernet sauvignon.


Two wines made by Sheldon also caught my eye.

The 2007 chardonnay, made from the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, is a nice example of barrel-fermented chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands near Monterey. The 47-year-old vines produced a deep golden wine. It is unfiltered and unfined, showing a lovely balance between sweet oak and a nice acid tang.

Dylan and Tobe Sheldon

Sheldon is a co-production of Dylan and Tobe Sheldon. The couple, who met in a wine bar, learned the wine trade in New Zealand and France before returning to California to put their knowledge and belief in a minimalist approach into practice.

They currently have eight different wines for sale, including an unusual bottling of 2009 graciano, a Spanish red varietal grown in the easternmost reaches of the Lodi appellation.

Spell Wines

Hosting the tasting was Spelletich Vineyards, which operates in the warehouse space.

Kristen Spelletich, whose mother, Barbara, is the family winery’s chief winemaker, bottles her own, less-expensive wines under the Spell label. I first met Kristen at a tasting in St. Helena earlier this year, when I discovered her mom’s wonderful 2006 reserve merlot.

Kristen’s 2006 Spellonu Red, a blend of Napa cabernet sauvignon and merlot, is a very good wine at a great price ($15). This wine showed a sweet cherry core and nice balance with a whiff of mint in the nose.


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