3 Steves Winery – The Livermore Valley, California & Cachapoal Valley, Chile Wine Connection
This article will show how a local Livermore winery made a connection in Chile to import a spectacular wine Carménère. 3 Steves Winery has been around since 2010. They originally made wine at a custom crush facility in Livermore and sold their wine in a small shop in town. In 2013 they purchased a winery of their own in Livermore, California. I visited the first week they opened and met one of the 3 Steve’s, Steve Burman. He is the principal winemaker with the other two Steve’s handling marketing, sales, administration, assisting in winemaking, etc., Steve Melander & Steve Zigant. Upon ending high school, Steve Burman enlisted in the Army. After completing his service, Steve earned his Electrical Engineering degree at Temple University and later received his Master’s in Manufacturing Systems at Stanford. After a stint with Ford Motor Company and Sun Microsystems, he then found work in Silicon Valley with various startups. For fun he planted some grape vines around his house and in the garage he launched his winemaking skills! He and the other two Steves met in 2006 as they all invested in a winery. 2010 is when they officially launched 3 Steves Winery.
(shown above are the 3 Steve’s, L to R, are Steve Zigant, Steve Burman and Steve Melander) photo by 3 Steve’s and used with permission.
In 2014, their Zinfandel was voted Best Red Wine of Show at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. They have never looked back! The vineyard where the Zinfandel was grown is owned by a person who owns a winery in Chile. Over the past 5 years, Steve Burman and the two other Steve’s have been traveling to Chile where they produce and bottle their South American wines.
Located in Livermore, they produce many varietals such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, “Three Red Heads” Blend (Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and Petit Verdot), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Brut Sparkling wine. They also offer a couple of blends from Chili and make two varietal wines from Chili, Malbec and Carménère. The focus of this article is on their Carménère as it is exquisite and worthy to be sought after! Not to take away from the 3 Steves other wines which should also be sought after and enjoyed but is not the focus of this story!
(Photo by Alchemy Winery and used with permission)
Now to find out more about Carménère (one of the lost Bordeaux varietals) and it’s Phoenix rise from the ashes, a quick history can be found at Wine Folly https://winefolly.com/tutorial/10-cool-things-to-know-about-carmenere-wine/ . Suffice it to say, it was transported from Bordeaux to Chile in the 1800’s as Merlot but was only recognized in 1994 as actually being Carménère. This vineyard is located in the famous Cachapoal Valley know to produce the best of the best Carménère.
What makes the pedigree of this wine so outstanding is that it is “handmade” by the local village people in Chile. No automated equipment or optical sorters, only manual labor removing each berry from the cluster by hand and destemming by hand. This allows each bin brought into the winery to be “perfect” with no leaves, stems, MOG (material other than grapes) of any kind contaminating the wine. The results are silky and full of fruit. They also using “water bladders” to gently increase pressure during the press operation. This insures a long but high end extraction of a clean and gentle press to get bottled. The net of both of these intense manual labor processes allow one of the most flavorful Carménère wines I have tasted.
The wine is a deep red color, with medium viscosity on the eye. Bold fruit notes of black cherry and raspberry abound in each sip. Key to the taste beyond the typical Carménère flavors of bell pepper is as Steve describes it as having “mild spicy components, smoked paprika and hints of cinnamon”. It is slightly oaked with round & gentle tannins and a strong lingering finish.
I can tell you today, this will make my Best Wines $50 or less in 2019 and that is why it is my cellar! When they started out to make wine, 3 Steves developed a tag line, which is “3 friends striving to make the perfect wine”. I feel they have achieved their goal with their 2014 Carménère! More information on a previous article on 3 Steves and their wines at https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2016/03/03/3-steves-winery/ .