Cellar 13 Winery – From Water to Wine??

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While not necessarily turning water into wine, Darin Winton came from the public water services for a local municipality and is now producing many award winning wines! Even before retiring, Darin got his start doing volunteer work at 3 Steves Winery on his vacation, since he enjoyed their wines in Livermore and even volunteered for two weeks in Chile during harvest. There he learned “old world” techniques in winemaking, especially for Carmenere. The fascination of harvesting by hand and using gravity to move wine around aroused his senses. In 2017, this winery where he was doing his training, allowed him to make a few small batches of wine with Livermore Valley fruit. He is indebted to 3 Steves Winery for allowing him to experience winemaking from the ground up and their subtle oversight and tutelage.


Just two years later in 2019, his 2017 Chardonnay won Double Gold at the San Francisco Wine Competition – a real accomplishment and validation for his new venture. One unique perspective Darin brings is his use of three yeasts in production and multi-malolactic fermentations. This provides a range of flavor profiles and aromas while drinking from cold, to cool to room temperature. Initially a lemon custard that was lean and with tight acidity appeared. When tasting his 2018, as it warmed, floral notes and oak appeared. His goal is to make a Chardonnay with enough acidity to age gracefully. It is unfiltered with a medium-heavy viscosity. The 2018 Chardonnay retails for $26.


Darin, as sole proprietor also makes four red wines. The first is another Double Gold winner from San Francisco Wine Competition in 2020, his 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon. Carving out a piece of the pie in an already crowded market, Darin’s focus is on the acidity and bringing lively full tannins to this wine. Yet the wine was smooth and velvety with a medium heavy viscosity. This Cabernet was an enjoyable sipping experience even without any food. Retail price is $39 which is a steal for a Double Gold winner!

On another evening we cooked an Instant pot Chuck Roast with roasted garlic potatoes and fresh garden salad. Tsogadu in the Cherokee language for the number 13 is a tribute to his uncle who is a famous American Indian artist. His artwork is featured on the back of the bottle (sorry no picture). Here Darin went for “Bordeaux style blend” wine using Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (34%) Cabernet Franc (6%). This also won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Wine Competition. It possessed on the eye, a deep radiant red. On the nose a sensory experience of all three varietals appeared in the glass. Retail price of $43.


This 2017 Merlot has yet to be released and is still settling down and the review will be forthcoming in another article. Price to be determined. He also has a 2016 Zinfandel released from Dry Creek area in Sonoma County and unfortunately I have not tasted it yet! Retail price is $33.

In 2017 Darin produced 180 cases and in 2019 production increased to 475 cases. Beyond 2020, Darin is looking at creating a wine club and in 2021 has plans to introduce a dry farmed Cabernet Franc from Cienega Valley and an Albarino that is grown in Livermore Valley. He is a man on mission to bring some extraordinary wines to market in a very short time!




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