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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Robert Stemmler Winery - Napa Valley

93 Points, Wine & Spirits magazine & Connoisseurs’ Guide

In 1976, a German expatriate named Robert Stemmler opened a winery in the Dry Creek Valley Region of Sonoma County. He was a graduate of the famed Bad Kreuznach Wine College in his native Germany who had made his way to California in 1961. Upon reaching California, Robert Stemmler was immediately employed at the Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley and later at such noted wineries as Inglenook in Rutherfod and Simi in Sonoma. Along the way his reputation as a solid and foresighted winemaker continued to grow.

As Robert Stemmler Winery grew and prospered, Stemmler chose to explore the potentialities of his favorite varietal that had heretofore met with little acceptance in California, the soft and subtle and hard to grow Pinot Noir. His first releases were in 1982 and by 1984’s vintage, critics were hailing the Robert Stemmler Pinot Noir as the “Best Pinot Noir in America.” In 1989, Stemmler sold his winery to a German company, A. Racke GmBH, who continues to operate the winery today. Its total production of around 10,000 cases is approximately what it was when it was sold to the German company.

“What we were interested in was finding a winery that was poised to specialize,” explained Anna Moller-Racke, who is resident winegrower/president of the modern day Robert Stemmler Winery. Moller-Racke’s personal resume contains a solid wine background in production. She was formerly the director of vineyard operations for the iconic Buena Vista Winery for many years.

“We were very fortunate since the winery met our needs in terms of economy of scale,” she continued. “It was just at the time of the Pinot Noir breakthrough as far as consumer acceptance, and a great deal of the praise for the varietal’s success was given to Robert’s wines. Each winery at the time was making a number of different varietals and I think Robert Stemmler Winery was one of the first to really specialize in just one particular varietal.” Today’s current makeup is about 80% Pinot Noir and the remainder in Chardonnay. Moller-Racke also serves as the president of another small winery, Donum Estate that draws from the common 125-planted acres in the Carneros Region of Sonoma. Even the number of employees has remained smallish, with a total of ten handling the myriad of chores and responsibilities a modern winery provides.

“We are really small and I like it that way,” Anna Moller-Racke explained further. “Right now, we all do a little bit of everything and it all seems to come together in the wines. I think I was named President because my department (Winegrowing) was the largest.” Accolades and critical praise have remained constant for Robert Stemmler Winery for more than the past two decades and show no signs of abating. Robert Stemmler Winery wines continue to win top competitive awards in categories dotted with wines that are a good deal more expensive.

“The key to our success is quite simple,” Moller-Racke added. “The fruit we get from Carneros is among the finest in California and everyone knows that is the real key to any successful wine.” She is also quick to point out that the advent of Phylloxera in the area just before the beginning of the 1990s was actually a blessing in disguise for her vineyards. “Even though it took Carneros almost a complete decade to replant, the resultant quality increase brought us back into the forefront of viticulture.” Many experts are quick to agree. Many new Chardonnays and even more Pinot Noirs from the region are gathering kudos whenever presented to the general public. And founder, Robert Stemmler, now 81, is currently in retirement but still assists whenever his winery calls. Moller-Racke has now taken over the tradition of making world-class wines under the Stemmler name. All this is quite rewarding to Anna Moller-Racke, who sees her winery as a continuing presence in the fine wine market.

“We only do one wine,” she smiled, “but we do it really, really well.” Reminded about the Chardonnay she also produces, she added happily, “Well, make that two wines, but both are really good.”

  1. Stemmler
    2005 Pinot Noir
    Carneros, Furguson Block


    93 - Wine & Spirit
    id: 301