Steven Kent Winery
Central Valley region
92 Points - Wine Enthusiast magazine
It can be easily argued that one particular California winery’s mission, that being to produce a world class Cabernet Sauvignon, is among the most difficult feats every attempted. It can also be said that most wine aficionados would agree as to that particular mission’s degree of difficulty.
The winery in question is named the Steven Kent Winery and is located in the East Bay community of Livermore.
Livermore? Yes, you heard correctly.
Livermore is an incredibly picturesque area of rolling hills and windmills that make up the Livermore Valley, or more precisely, the exact spot where San Francisco’s urban crawl comes into direct contact with what could aptly be construed as the first veritable appearances of nature.
The area has been the home to wine growers for more than a century and a half, but, until now, the emphasis in the area had been toward the production of more basic varietals that have enjoyed wide public acceptance.
Enter Steven Kent Mirassou, Jr. and Sr., proprietors of the new winery that bears their first and second names. They are also the 5th and 6th generation winemakers from the respected Mirassou Family that has produced wines for many years.
Steven Mirassou, Jr., 39, is the driving force behind the new venture.
“As a child growing up around the winery,” he recalled, “I was always taken back by the historical aspects of the wine industry. For years I even wrote school reports about the way things were done in our family’s winery.”
After heading East for schooling (an American literature undergraduate degree from George Washington University and a masters in literature from NYU), Steven found himself in the computer software business in New York.
An advantageous trip back home in 1992 to allow his parents time with his children, rekindled Steven’s early interest in the wine business. Three years later he became the California Sales Manager for his father’s thriving Ivan Tamas Winery.
“Within a year of my return my dad and I began discussing the potential for producing a really world class Cabernet. Dad always referred back to Bob Mondavi bringing him a bottle of 1959 1st growth Bordeaux sometime in the mid-1960’s, when Mondavi served as a consultant for the marketing of Mirassou as a national brand. The classic wine and its memory always lingered with him.”
So with all of Northern California to choose from, why pick Livermore as a starting point for such a venture?
“Part of the answer was already there,” Mirassou explained. “We were completely familiar with the area and owned nearly fifty acres of prime vineyard land. When we looked around and investigated the history of the region, and learned that our particular area was initially one of the prime sources of top grapes for a number of years.”
The fact that Livermore and the surrounding area are regarded as hot growing areas actually worked neatly into Steven Mirassou’s plan for Steven Kent Winery. He acknowledges the fact that while there are several days of 100-plus temperature spikes, the Livermore area also enjoys day and night temperature differentials that are on par with both the Napa and Sonoma growing areas.
“What’s even more exciting,” he added, “is the fact that our soils are part of an old riverbed system that no longer exists. There is plenty of gravelly soil, not unlike that of the Graves Region of Bordeaux.”
The reason for Steven Kent Winery’s initial successes can be traced directly to its founder’s unabashed passion for both his product and his work. Mirassou Jr., and his father have taken their dedication and experience and turned both to their favor. Their goal is to maintain balanced vineyards where the grape is stressed to the point of yielding nearly perfect fruit---the basis for producing truly world-class wines.
Their motto has become “the smaller, the better,” and from first indications, their early efforts have met with considerable critical acclaim.
Steven Mirassou, Jr. also has additional personal reasons for making Steven Kent Winery a winner. He has four children, from ages 9 to 16, and his fondest desire is for each of them to follow him into the family business.
If sheer determination and confidence are the keys to such a happening, Steven Mirassou’s next generation will be a welcome addition. His great new wines from Steven Kent Winery have already opened the door.