This year Starry Night Winery celebrates its twelfth anniversary as a bonded winery. The story of how we came into existence starts many years earlier when Wayne Hansen, Bruce Walker, Mike Miller and Skip Granger started making wine at an amateur level. Our motivation for this came from a shared life long passion for wine and an increasing disdain for the over priced and often mass-produced wines found in the market.
In our first year we crushed several hundred pounds of grapes and produced about fifty cases of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in Wayne’s basement. By combining the best of both new and traditional methods we found that we could make outstanding wine. We also spent time researching wine making methods, taking classes at UC Davis, and received the advice of some very helpful commercial winemakers. After several years of home winemaking, we finally applied for and received our bond several weeks before harvest in 1999.
We were excited to announce in December, 2006 that Nimrod Kovacs, a citizen of Hungary and the US, joined the management team of Starry Night Winery. Mr. Kovacs has a substantial background in both domestic and international marketing, communications, advertising and management. Nimrod is the owner of Kovacs Nimrod Winery of Eger, Hungary, the new sister winery of Starry Night Winery! Legend has it that zinfandel originated in Hungary and our zinfandels are now available in Hungary as part of the “Welcome Back Zinfandel” program. We are pleased to announce that this spring, we began importing and selling Nimrod’s Hungarian wines.
At Starry Night Winery, our goal is to produce the finest wines possible that accentuate the regions from where the grapes are best grown. We currently produce Chardonnay and Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley, a Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley as well as Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from the Lodi appellation. This coming summer we will be bringing back Adara, our Rhone Style Blend and this fall we will be releasing out first Cabernet Franc from Lake County.
In our first year we produced fewer than 1200 cases. Since then we have grown a bit each year and have leveled off our production to about 8,000 cases. Most of our wines are produced in quantities of less than 1,000 cases. By keeping our production small, we are able to pay attention to every detail in the winemaking process and allow the grapes to fully express their terroir. We would describe our winemaking style as minimalist in that we want the wines to make themselves with as little intervention as possible.
In 2007, we started a new venture, Michael Forrest Winery, in collaboration with well known wine maker Kent Barthman. Kent’s previous winemaking positions included stays at Rutherford Hill, Far Niente, Taft Street and Carey Cellars, among others. Focused on very small production single vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, these wines were released in 2009 and are currently available on our website.
Last year we moved our production facility to Sonoma County and hope to have a tasting room open next year. We are dedicated to finding the best grapes and growers that allow us to produce the finest wines. We have now worked with some of our growers for multiple harvests and we have added several new growers in the last few years. We are very excited about sharing our new wines and new releases with you!