Michael Perlis Discovers: Silenus Vintners and a really big…tasting glass?

Silenus Vintners

Some time ago, we attended a tasting in Santa Monica. The tasting was put on by Learn About Wine (www.learnaboutwine.com) at Wilshire Restaurant, with a focus on California’s rising stars.

One of the wineries we enjoyed there was Poem Cellars, and I stayed in touch with co-owner Jeff Durham. When I told him we were planning a visit to Napa, he suggested we visit Silenus Vintners, which is where the Poem Cellars wines are made.

Poem Cellars is now called Gentleman Farmer, but the wines are still made at Silenus Vintners.

Silenus tasting room manager Scott Turnnidge explained that actually 19 wineries make their wines at Silenus, with 11 of them represented in the tasting room. Scott said that Silenus is a true “multiple winery facility”, with Silenus providing the facilities and the equipment but each winery is responsible for the production of its own wine, versus a “custom crush facility” where the facility staff typically makes the wine for the winery owners.

At any given time, 13 wines are being poured in the gorgeous Silenus tasting room, with a rotation system in place to showcase fairly all the wineries that have their wine in the tasting room.
The day I visited, I tasted the following wines:

Mario Bazan Cellars
2009 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley)
100 Cases, Winemaker: Victoria Coleman

Modus Operandi Cellars
2010 Sauvignon Blanc (Rutherford)
200 Cases, Winemaker: Jason Moore

Matthiasson Family Vineyards
2010 White Wine (Napa Valley)
(A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, Semillon and Tocai Friulano)
365 Cases, Winemaker: Steve Matthiasson

Cielo Malibu Estate Vineyards
2010 Woodstock “Honey Pie” (California)
(A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat)
450 Cases, Winemaker: Jason Moore

Coleman Nicole Wines
2008 Pinot Noir (Champlain Creek)
209 Cases, Winemaker: Jason Moore

Due Vigne di Famiglia
2007 Dolcetto (El Dorado)
225 Cases, Winemaker: Ken Musso

Modus Operandi Cellars
2008 Vicarious Red Blend (Napa Valley)
(From grapes grown in the Napa Valley and Sierra Foothills. Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, also includes Syrah, Merlot, and Petite Sirah.)
300 Cases, Winemaker: Jason Moore

Silenus Winery
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)
50 Cases, Winemaker: Brad Smith

Cielo Malibu Estate Vineyards
2009 Woodstock “Purple Haze” (Russian River Valley)
225 Cases, Winemaker: Jason Moore

Gentleman Farmer
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)
325 Cases, Winemaker: Jason Moore

I enjoyed all the wines I tasted, but my two favorites were the “Vicarious” and the “Purple Haze”. Not surprisingly, given the Syrah. Note that they were both made by Jason Moore. I would say that he is a winemaker to watch. In addition, note that the “Purple Haze” is from Cielo Malibu Estate Vineyards, which means their wines are also available at their tasting room in Southern California.

Mike, trying to hide behind his Sangio

Scott also gave me a tour of the property, showing me the tanks, barrels, presses, etc. While we were walking around, we bumped into renowned winemaker John Gibson, who was making Sangiovese for his current winery project Four Winds Cellars. I commented that I hadn’t run into too many California Sangioveses that I really enjoyed, so he promptly had me sample his. Well, if it stays as tasty as it was from the barrel, I think I’ve found my Sangio!

In Greek mythology, Silenus was the teacher and companion of the wine-god Dionysus. Well, the “teacher” role certainly applied here, as I left Silenus with a new appreciation of Napa wines and greatly looking forward to what the rest of my visit would bring.

Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at mcpfinancial@aol.com or michaelthezinfan@aol.com.

3 thoughts on “Michael Perlis Discovers: Silenus Vintners and a really big…tasting glass?

  1. My doctor told me only one glass of wine a day, thanks Mike for the idea, where do I order your wine glass?

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