It is seldom that one gets a second chance to do what one wants and become incredibly successful in the process. Tom Sinton, 67, is one of those rare individuals who can point out that it has happened to him.
But, it is necessary to start at the beginning. Tom is a native Californian, from the Central Coast Region, around San Luis Obispo to be exact. His family had ties to the wine industry; his grandfather was a friend of the late iconic Louis M. Martini and his uncle Jim Sinton was a friend of Martini’s son, Louis P. Martini.
In 1972, Sinton’s family decided to plant the Shell Creek Vineyard (some 200 acres) and Tom was tapped to run the operation. Along the way, he managed a master’s degree in enology from UC Davis. For twelve years, the property prospered until it was sold in 1984. Tom decided on a new course and founded Pro Business, a human resources outsourcing firm that he guided for more than two decades.
When he sold the business in 2010, he vowed to return to his first true love, the wine industry. Sinton had always had a desire to make Cabernet Sauvignon and he searched in vain for property to buy in Napa Valley, the home of great Cabernets.
Unable to find the type of property he wanted, Tom moved to the Sierra Foothills where he finally settled on a piece of property near the city of Placerville.
“It was important that the land had to function financially,” he declared. “And the area reminded me of where I first began my wine career on the Central Coast. The plot involves around 31 acres and will provide me with what I need as far as quality fruit. The site is hilly and filled with rocks and the soil tends toward the poor side. The vines will have to work hard and that will be for the best. Also, the growing season is shorter than other regions. I have chosen some Rhône varietals and even two Italian varietals to work with. They will be well-suited to this type of environment.”
To begin his new winery, Tom Sinton chose a path that few winemakers have tried. He traveled to Bordeaux where he bought some grapes and eventually made them into wine. He worked closely with the French winemakers and was rewarded with two excellent blends, one from the Medoc and the other from St. Emilion. “It was a novel experience,” he professed. “I saw the French approach to winemaking and I felt I could use it in making my wines.”
He chose the name Starfield Vineyards as a tribute to the vineyards themselves. Each planting must be a star and thus the literal name. The first release of Starfield Vineyards came in 2013 and amounted to a little under 300 cases. Needless to say, these initial wines were wildly successful. “I had to purchase grapes but I knew what I wanted to make,” he assured. “I feel we got a great start given the circumstances.”
The future is where Tom Sinton and Starfield Vineyards stand to excel. Sinton has designed a property that is user friendly and beckons visitors to an up close experience. Included is an extensive trail system and lakes that set Starfield as a destination site. “I want people to come here and see how we farm the vineyards and also make the wines. By doing this, I hope they will experience the wonderful sensation I feel when I grow the grapes and make wine,” Sinton added.
To that end, an ambitious business plan has already been put into effect. It calls for the completion of a brand new winery by 2017 and a multi-faceted tasting facility
the following year.
“If you build something special and then produce wines at the same level, I feel people will take notice,” Sinton added. “They relate to their surroundings and then, hopefully, they like and buy the wines.”
The attractive Starfield Vineyards label is a collaboration between Seattle-based designer Joe Farmer and Sinton. It portrays a clean background and understated graphics that are most pleasant to the eye.
“I wanted the effort we put into making our label to mirror the determination we also put into our wine,” he said in closing. “From the feedback we have received, I think
everything came out quite nicely.”
It is a great pleasure to welcome our Platinum Series members to this great new winery and its top-caliber wines.
A Letter from Tom Sinton
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
I dreamed about making Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley ever since planting my first vineyard in the Paso Robles area in 1972, and finishing a masters program in viticulture and enology at UC Davis four years later. Finally, in 2011, I got my chance to launch Starfield Vineyards. The name comes from our belief that truly great wines are sourced from “Star-Fields” – unique sites where fruit can develop the optimal balance of aroma, flavor and texture. For our flagship wine, 'The Starbeam', we selected vineyards in the coolest parts of the Napa Valley, in what has become the Coombsville AVA.
2012 in the Napa Valley was a year for the ages – easily one of the best ever. The 2012 Starbeam is an expression of everything a cool region like Coombsville can deliver. It’s an opulent wine, which is drinking well now, but can be laid down in your cellar for another five to ten years.
We hope you love the wine as much as we do. You can find out more about us at www.starfieldvineyards.com, where you can purchase wine, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Twitter (Starfieldwine) and Facebook.