“I want a 90-point wine,” said Peter Koehler. His namesake
winery has been around since 1997 and has produced moderate wines
so far. But he recently decided to raise the bar and break into the
stratosphere. “I want to be one of the top 20 wineries in the
world.” And Koehler is just the man to make that happen.
To start off, he hired 90-point winemaker Chris Stanton.
Stanton, soft-spoken and utterly in love with making wine, was the
champion of the Mayo Winery in Sonoma, where he created nearly
three dozen high-scoring wines. Stanton, born and raised in Napa
and Sonoma, has winemaking in his blood. This year marks his 25th
harvest, so he knows a thing or two.
Stanton takes a low-key, backseat approach to making influential
wines. “I don’t do much,” he explained, shrugging his shoulders,
“just bring the fruit in and let it express its varietal
character.” When the wines are close to bottling, he stays at the
winery and tastes the wines at least twice a day, sometimes more,
to find the perfect moment.
Koehler also has the right real estate: the winery sits on “the
5th Avenue of wines,” as Koehler calls Foxen Canyon. The fruit from
this particular patch of land seems to defy conventional farming
Koehler’s 2005 Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay will be
released by June; the reds, including Cabernet Sauvignon,
Sangiovese, Grenache, and Pinot Noir, will be released later this
year and into 2007. Even in their adolescence, the deep brooding
reds and beautifully balanced whites hint at a future of 90-point
4·1·1 Koehler Winery, 5360 Foxen Cyn. Rd., Los
Olivos, 693-8384, koehlerwinery.com.