Cloak and Dagger Wines
Paso Robles AVA
"...everything was done on an undercover basis, and the details were a closely held secret."
To say that Cloak and Dagger Wines are among the most unique in the wine industry is literally a mouthful – and the statement is absolutely true. There are numerous reasons to back up the aforementioned.
First of all, Cloak and Dagger won’t reveal the location, nor any really pertinent information about the company’s background. Some details of the wines are derived from the labeling necessities ordained by the federal government.
The wines are all from the Paso Robles AVA, the new darling of the Central Coast. That much is known. According to company spokesman Ray Schofield, and a transplanted Englishman, very little else will be forthcoming about the wines.
“All I can say is that our project started almost ten years ago and it involved buying some property (15 acres) to produce fine wine grapes,” he recalled. “For various reasons, it was necessary to conclude the deal with a degree of secrecy. For the first few years of our existence, everything was done on an undercover basis, and the details were a closely held secret.”
Schofield also stated that the original principals came from outside the wine industry, and knew little about the business and its multiple complexities. “The only real experience we had with wine was drinking it,” Schofield confessed, “so there was quite a learning curve involved for us to overcome.”
In 2011, the first 1,000 cases of Cloak and Dagger Wines were released, to some excellent reviews and plaudits. But, Cloak and Dagger Wines has since scaled back to around 400 cases, and for good reason.
“We are basically a tiny operation that only produces a limited amount of wine,” Schofield continued. “It was not enough production to interest distributors or middle men. We found it was smarter to sell the wines ourselves and so we scaled back our production. This does not mean that we aren’t open to increases for the future, but we will let the market dictate where and when.”
At this point, only selected high line restaurants and bottle shops sell Cloak and Dagger Wines throughout California, mostly in areas that Los Angeles-based Schofield can easily access by driving. The company also has an excellent website that appeals to both young and old.
“We wanted to do something different,” Schofield explained. “So we hired a design firm in Malibu to come up with some ideas and so far the reaction has been incredibly positive.”
The website conveys Cloak and Dagger Wines’ ongoing attempt at secrecy with a helping hand from author Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, etc.). Labels are well thought out and convey a degree of surprise along with a helping of the mysterious. Ray Schofield admitted to being a fan of Brown and other authors whose works he found “speculative in nature.”
Oh, by the way, the wine inside the bottles is also amazing in its own right.
“We have been pleasantly satisfied with the degree of success the wines have enjoyed,” Schofield added. “Almost all of our on premise (restaurants) placements have resulted in multiple reorders. We also have a wine club that is sold out, so that is a really good sign.”
Schofield also admitted that he decided not to sell to certain restaurants and shops “who really didn’t seem to get the brand. We really wanted to keep our wines at a manageable level with regard to fruit so that places limitations that we need to observe.”
About fifty percent of Cloak and Dagger Wines come from its home vineyards, one of which is called, of course, “Hidden Valley Vineyard.” The remainder of the fruit is sourced from neighboring vineyards all located within a mile of Cloak and Dagger’s home vineyards.
There is no tasting facility at this time for Cloak and Dagger’s wines, nor is there any access to the vineyards. Since no one knows the location of the vineyards, it would seem impossible to visit them anyway.
The most amazing aspect of these wines is the quality achieved in a relatively short period of time. Many wineries take several years to achieve high quality levels, but Cloak and Dagger has done so since its inception.
“Great fruit begets great wine,” concluded Schofield. “And our area around Templeton (a non-veiled hint) produces some of the finest fruit on the Central Coast. It’s a tribute to our winemaker (who is unknown) that we have achieved such recognition and accolades. We just helped by supplying the very best fruit that we could.”
A Letter from Ray Schofield
Dear Platinum Series Members,
It is our pleasure to share with you our critically acclaimed 2012 “Illuminatus” Sangiovese Reserve.
The fruit is from our estate vineyard, Hidden Valley Vineyard, located in the Templeton Gap area of Paso Robles’ Westside. The sloping terrain drains rapidly and the vines enjoy long warm days and cool nights throughout the growing season. The mature, cane pruned vines produce low yields of intense and expressive fruit.
The 2012 Illuminatus Reserve is perhaps our favorite Sangiovese vintage so far. The 2012 growing season was almost ideal in most respects and the fruit was of particularly high quality. The early part of the season was cool and dry. A heat wave just ahead of veraison stressed the vines, keeping the cluster sizes in check and concentrating the flavors and aromas. The grapes were harvested on November 2, 2012 and barrel aged in French oak for 18 months.
The wine is bold and textural, exhibiting mouthwatering cherry, plum and spice notes. Only three barrels were produced, making the wine almost as elusive as the shadowy secret society from which its name is derived.
We hope you will enjoy Illuminatus in the company of trusted friends. Please pour carefully – secrets may be spilled . . .
Cloak & Dagger Wines
Ray Schofield - Spokesperson
Dear Garagiste Series Wine Club Members,
We are thrilled to have this opportunity to share with you our 2010 “The Conspirator’s Reserve” Syrah. The 2010 harvest gave us extraordinarily good fruit to work with. After extended aging and rigorous tasting, we carefully selected and blended the barrels we considered to be the best of the vintage for this limited production Reserve.
Our single vineyard Syrah is as dark and brooding as it is complex and delicious. Deep purple in color with a nose full of dark, brambly fruit. The palate bursts open with raspberry, cocoa, vanilla and just a hint of smoky oak. Smooth tannins enhance the long, elegant finish.
In case you were wondering, “The Conspirator” is the founder and ringleader of Cloak & Dagger Wines. He takes great pride in his wines but also in his degree of preparedness for any type of cataclysmic emergency. Should the need arise to take refuge in the bunker for an extended period, The Conspirator plans to have a plentiful supply of his Reserve Syrah on hand. He trusts, however, that you will be able to experience the wine under much less challenging circumstances.
On behalf of The Conspirator, we hope you will enjoy this wine in the company of trusted friends. Please pour carefully. Secrets may be spilled.
Cloak & Dagger Wines