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The Sweet Spot

If you are a sommelier or are in charge of putting together your restaurant’s wine list, Christopher Silva thinks he may have found your sweet spot.

“For a high-tier wine list,” says the president and CEO of Sonoma County’s St. Francis winery, “there is a sweet spot for very good California red wines that will list for $90-$110.”  Since 2010, Silva has been working on providing such a wine, or group of wines, that will be sold almost exclusively on-premise at that price and which would be in good supply.

“It’s been an interesting journey,” Silva says, but he thinks his team has made those wines – St. Francis Reserve Tier, which includes a cabernet sauvignon (Alexander Valley), merlot (Sonoma Valley) and zinfandel (Dry Creek), all from the 2012 vintage.

Launched this year, the St. Francis wines are the latest line targeted for the re-emerging high-end restaurant trade following the long recessionary period.  Many of these wines may not be strictly limited to restaurant sales, but that is where these wines are targeted.  This is especially true for for low-production, high-priced wines that want to achieve reputations beyond their winery’s mailing list.

In St. Francis’ case, that means that Silva is focusing his Reserve Tier reds for “steak houses and white tablecloth restaurants in big cities.” To that end, Silva and his team took the wines on a 17-city introductory tour.

“We won’t have Reserve Tier every year,” Silva says, although there will be a 2013 and “2014 looks good so far.  I want to say to consumers, ‘This is what Sonoma red wines are capable of doing.”

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