When you train racehorses, you’re undoubtedly used to taking
chances. That’s why Bill and Roswitha Craig, who worked with
racehorses in Baltimore, didn’t think twice before buying a 65-acre
property in Solvang and planting some vines. Their gamble paid off,
and six years later, in July 2005, the Craigs opened the doors to
their winery: Shoestring.
Although they still have a few horses, their focus now is wine.
Currently producing 3,000 cases, they have a small but steadily
growing clientele. And it’s obvious why. Their wines, all
less than $25, are terrific. Roswitha recalls that they were told
early on to “make wines that you like, because if they don’t sell,
you’ll be drinking them for a long time.”
It’s unlikely the Craigs will have that problem. The
ubiquitous Norm Yost (of Flying Goat Cellars) is making their wines
and he excels with the Shoestring portfolio. They would like
to produce more, but, “one barrel at a time,” said Bill. Hence
The Highlights Shoestring 2002
Sangiovese ($22) is blended with a small amount of merlot,
resulting in a fruit-forward wine full of deep berry and plum with
a background of pepper, vanilla, and oak.
2003 Cabernet Sauvignon ($24) has been aged in
French oak for 24 months. This is not a heavy cab, nor an anemic
one, but it’s just right, very well-balanced, and brimming with
blackberry, raspberry, and spice.
2003 Syrah ($24) is probably Shoestring’s most
compelling wine. They have blended in 2 percent malbec and
what has emerged (after 24 months in the barrel) is luscious
blueberry, plum, and blackberry with a hint of white
pepper. This syrah is beautifully balanced, neither over-oaked
nor flat. It is uncharacteristic of this valley and it’s a