I was standing in the small, quaint lobby at the Hotel De L’Univers in St. Emilion at the end of a dream trip through Bordeaux, France. My journey was ending and I was taking some time to reflect on the week and what I had learned. I overheard a couple — speaking English to the front desk attendant while checking in for their stay. Curious, I introduced myself and learned that the couple, Stuart and Christy Spoto, live in Sacramento, where they make their family-named Spoto Wines. Needless to say, I was feeling a bit of kismet at work as we literally could have missed each other by minutes.
I started receiving Spoto Winery’s newsletter, which prompted a few introductory messages between Stuart and myself. I followed the harvest and production of the 500 cases they so carefully craft each year.
On a trip to Sacramento earlier this year my gut was prodding me to follow through on Stuart’s invitation to visit their winery. I made an appointment and anxiously awaited the visit. As I approached the address I had on file, I wondered if I got my information wrong. This was a residential neighborhood and I was looking for the typical winery and tasting room we have all come to expect. I sheepishly walked up to the door and rang the bell, ready to apologize for invading their home turf. Stuart answered with his warm smile and welcoming demeanor and assured me I was not in the wrong place. This was in fact their home AND their winery. (I was thinking to myself: I wonder if they have an extra room in the cellar and need a professional marketer and taster.)
Stuart led me to his garage/wine operation where I instantly noticed how pristine and sparkling everything looked. This is no garage and who needs a car under roof when this is the alternative? After a quick primer on his equipment and operation, we started our tasting with his pinot noir. While I normally do not drink pinot noir, as many tend to be more thin or too fruity, this 2012 was incredible. We followed with several reserve cabernets and Bordeaux-style blends. Stuart keeps his selection tight and specialized, which is the sign of an expert winemaker. Sometimes the more offerings a winery has, the less interesting any one might be.
Before arriving at Spoto’s, I was planning on the usual hour-long visit and tasting. Not this time. I left three hours later, a member of the Spoto private wine club with recommendations from Stuart on select wineries to visit on my pending trip to Lodi. We shared stories of family and our Italian heritage, which always includes love of food. We told stories from our travels and of course the trials and tribulations of owning and running a wine-making operation. Stuart and Christy were so generous with their time and their wine, sharing their knowledge with me so openly. Spoto’s wines are truly special and crafted with the utmost care and attention to detail. Stuart’s background in chemical and civil engineering coupled with his 30+ years making wine have served him well in this chapter of his life.
You may visit Spoto Wines’ website at: http://shop.spotowines.com.
Thank you Stuart and Christy for the memories!