Get the Dirt about Starfield Vineyards from Tom Sinton

22 Oct

starfieldvyd1.What was your first vintage year? 2011

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? 150-250

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? There is no tasting room. Wine is available from the website only.

4. If not you, who is your winemaker? Kian Tavakoli, who formerly worked at Opus One, consults with me on winemaking.

5. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? I planted one of the first new vineyards in the Paso Robles area in 1972, Shell Creek Vineyards (from which my cousins produce a great Petite Sirah today). I went on to get a MS from UC Davis in Food Science, specializing in Viticulture and Enology, moved to the Bay area in 1982 to pursue a career in human resources and payroll services, and after retirement, started Starfield Vineyards in 2010 to make artisan Cabernet from the best vineyards in the Napa Valley.

6. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? Working with winemakers across the state who bought Shell Creek Vineyards grapes in the 1970s and 1980s, made we want to craft my own wines.

7. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay. I founded Starfield with the goal of making the best possible Cabernet and Merlot from the cooler parts of the Napa Valley. I’ve worked with the same grapes in Bordeaux for two vintages, and also worked with Sauvignon Blanc from Napa, and Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. While I love all those varieties and regions, my primary focus is Cabernet from Napa.


8. What vineyards do you source from? Why? I source from 2-3 vineyards in the Napa Valley, mostly located near the city of Napa, always including Coombsville. These cooler locations give the fruit the longest hang times, allow a full range of flavors to develop, and produce some of the softest tannins around.

9. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? French oak barrels from Ermitage and Ana Select, 50-75% new, depending on the vintage. We use multiple coopers to increase complexity, and add nuance to the wine aroma.

10. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? The cooler parts of the Napa Valley produce some of the richest, deeply aromatic wines around. I think they’re consistently the best expression of Cabernet anywhere in the world.

11. What’s the story behind your name/label? We believe great wines only come from great vineyards where grapes develop the optimum balance of flavor and texture. We think of those vineyards as “star fields.” Hence the name “Starfield Vineyards.”

12. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? They told me, and I did it anyway!

13. We’re curious…do you even get tired of drinking your own wine? Is it considered bad form to dip into your inventory? I never get tired of drinking Starfield. I love comparing it with other artisan Cabernets and blends from the same vintage.

14. Do you still have a day job? My day job is planting another vineyard in the Sierra Foothills near Placerville – working to create another “star field.”

To get more information about Starfield Vineyards, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

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