It’s natural to shine a light on affordability in today’s wine market. We all understand the importance of stretching the dollar, and while most US consumers consider wine to be a luxury product, it remains a key part of life for many. More than ever, the average citizen seeks more bang for the buck. Or perhaps that’s more Benz experiences on the Buick budget.
Tom Meadowcroft is a winemaker who not only serves the wine consuming public with tremendous value today, but always has produced wines that just don’t seem to cost enough. I’ll put this a different way. I tasted his 2007 Sumptuary Zinfandel with him this morning and couldn’t help telling him that the darned $12 bottle was put together like $25-27, in accordance with other similar wines I’ve tasted. You could say I made a judgment based on comps, not unlike a home appraiser. Tom’s reaction was one of gratitude underlain with a dash of “I told you so”, making me realize quickly that he knows what he can charge for his work as opposed to what he chooses to charge. Therein lies the beauty of Meadowcroft wines.
Tom’s parents divocred when he was 4 years old, which took him to Geneva through the age of 19. Throughout his childhood, he maintained a relationship with his biological father, a gardener and wine enthusiast. Tom soon learned about wine and pursued harvest opportunities in St.-Emilion and Sauternes to augment his knowledge enough to pursue a winemaking hobby with his father (Thomas Henry Meadowcroft, who would later inspire a brand). This European experience developed Tom’s sensitivity to grapes that would stand on their own as expressions of their vineyards, but also the beauty of blending, whereby varietals could each contribute important characteristics to a wine.
Tim later moved to Washington, working as a contractor and keeping the notion of winemaking in the back of his mind until he couldn’t stand it any longer. He came to Napa in 1996 to work for the legendary Ric Forman while concurrently studying viticulture and enology at Napa College. He performed a stint in the cellar of his pal, Andrew Will, and subsequently joined a vineyard management company that developed and maintained properties for Opus One, Cakebread, Duckhorn and others of legendary status. His inaugural commercial effort came about in 2003, in the form of a popular zinfandel. Having made the wine from purchased grapes, he found a way to buy a vineyard on Mount Veeder, the source of his highly-acclaimed cabernet sauvignon.
Today, Tom’s has made his mark in the form of Meadowcroft Wines (his single-vineyard, single-varietal “reserve” brand), Thomas Henry Wines (the same strategies at a value level) and Magito Wines (blended wines known for nuance and grace). As I mentioned earlier, one can hardly find such quality at such low prices anywhere. Thomas Henry 2008 Sonoma County Pinot Noir is an abundant basket of strawberries, Meadowcroft 2008 Viognier is a mouth-filling Beaucastel lookalike, and Magito 2007 Sauvignon Blanc is a juicy, apricot-nuanced treat. All for $12-25/bottle. Tom’s 15,000 cases don’t spend much time on shelves because they’re fantastic and, sorry about this – but dirt cheap.
Tom set up shop yesterday in Roots In Sonoma, the tasting room on the Cornerstone Gardens property in Schellville, and has already received accolades from the locals who passed through. An official opening with bells, whistles and flair will be announced later this month. It’s easy to reach, about 30 minutes east of Petaluma and across from the Gloria Ferrer wine caves. Go to www.grangesonoma.com for the actual location and contact information. Taste some of Tom’s wines and see what this hype is all about.