2004 Stephen Ross Petite Sirah Thomann Station

Stephen Ross Petite Sirah Thomann Station The Stephen Ross Winery story starts, of all places, in Minnesota, 1970. That's when Stephen Dooley, then a high school student, read an article in Time magazine about California's burgeoning wine industry. The article stayed with him, so much so that a few years later--for his "junior year abroad"--Stephen left Minnesota's Mankato State University for U.C. Davis. He never looked back.

Steve DooleyAfter graduation, Stephen met with what he calls "an extraordinary piece of good luck"--he landed a job at the pioneering Louis M. Martini Winery, where he eventually became assistant winemaker. Stephen took two sabbaticals from Martini in the 1980s, at estates in South Africa and Australia, and when he returned to California he became Edna Valley Vineyards' head winemaker.

We've known Stephen since his days at Martini and have followed his peregrinations, sometimes from afar. He's a restless, entrepreneurial guy, and we knew knew it was only a matter of time until he founded his own label, which he did in 1994. Over the years, Stephen's forged strong relationships with some of the best growers and other winemakers in California. Consequently, he produces wines from grapes grown at prestigious vineyards, like Bien Nacido and the Talley family's renowned Oliver's Vineyard.

Thomann Station is located in the Martini Winery's back yard, and Stephen ships the harvest fruit nearly 250 miles in a refrigerated truck. Planted in 1997, this vineyard demonstrates why Petite Sirah was the most widely planted variety in Napa back in the 1960s. Thomann Station Petite Sirahs are known for their inky color, forward fruit aromas, and full, voluptuous textures. The 2004 Petite Sirah holds true to form with its dense, inky, purple-black color, and mouth-filling, soft tannins. The bouquet is packed with blueberry and blackberry aromas and traces of violet flower and black pepper. On the palate, it's thick, rich, and flavorful on the palate. Drink now-2010.