Steele Canyon Cellars
Napa Valley AVA
Under-the-radar artisan winery crafting a variety of award-winning wines
This month’s Gold Wine Club selections are unique in the fact that we are featuring two wineries that share common ownership, J. McClelland Cellars and Steele Canyon Cellars.
Named for the winding road on which the winery is located on Napa Valley’s eastern side, Steele Canyon Cellars first saw the light of day in 2012. It is considered an opportunistic winery in that it affords its owners (and winemakers) the chance of locating and producing small amounts of extremely high-quality fruit into resultant wines. The initial release of Steele Canyon Cellars was under 500 cases and annual production will vary according to the amount of fruit it buys.
Its wines tend to be a bit on the lighter side and are designed to be paired with food. Steele Canyon Cellars continues the Italian legacy that the Scotto Family enjoys and encourages, that being a perfect pairing of wine and food. Fruit quality and roundness permeate Steele Canyon Cellars’ wines that are a delight to the palate.
Paul Scotto - Winemaker
Led by Paul Scotto, the winemaking team behind Steele Canyon and J. McClelland is literally what dreams are made of. Scotto is a fifth generation winemaker with a viticulture and management degree from UC Davis, the country’s leading wine educator and home to many of our country’s (and many European) leading winemakers.
Paul Scotto’s reputation was enhanced by his Sera Fina Winery in Amador County, which is considered one of the top boutique wineries in the Sierra Foothills growing region. His efforts have produced numerous award-winning wines for both Sera Fina Winery and Steele Canyon Cellars since their inception.
Mark Smith - Winemaker
Another UC Davis graduate (1979), Mark Smith performs most of the daily winemaking duties for both Steele Valley Cellars and J. McClellan Cellars. Smith possesses a dominating resumé with winemaking stints at the likes of Girard Winery, Hawk’s Crest (Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars), Jamieson Ranch Vineyards and the prestigious Laird Family Estate to his credit. Smith brings almost four decades of winemaking experience in Napa Valley and has crafted a 100-point wine during his career.
More has been written about Northern California’s Napa Valley that any other growing region in the United States - and for good reason. Napa Valley sits in a dome-like position just off the Pacific Ocean and its location provides an almost idyllic milieu for growing superior grapes. Nights are cooled by the ever- present ocean breezes and days are blazoned by the strong rays of an endearing sun. During the growing season, rain is a scarcity and most vineyards are treated to a drip system that assures nearly perfect access to water.
Napa Valley is home to many varietals, but the Cabernet Sauvignon grape excels in Napa Valley’s alluvial fans. These layers of gravel, sand and silt have accumulated over millions of years and provide the drainage necessary for the vines to thrive.
The combination of soils, geology, geography and climate are almost unique in the grape-growing world and provide remarkable crops and fruit year after year. Even European vintners point to Napa Valley’s environmental consistency as the key factor in California wineries’ pursuit of producing world-caliber wines.