Napa Valley AVA
WaterMark's style is ripe, dark and fully concentrated
If experience has anything to do with it, Napa Valley’s smallish WaterMark Winery should continue its outstanding run of successes. Owned by personable Phil Steinschreiber, the operation was begun early this century. Its first release of around 350 cases occurred in 2003 and was met with instant success and high plaudits by the wine industry’s top periodicals. When you hear the rest of the story, it is easy to understand just why this phenomena occurred, and, why so quickly.
Phil Steinschreiber was born on a chicken farm in New Jersey, but moved with his parents to Los Angeles when he was just nine. As most good southern Californians, his family enjoyed wine and so did Phil. He entered UCLA and received a degree in Psychology in 1973. The following year, Phil decided to travel and took off for Europe with a one way ticket and a few dollars in his pocket. He visited such countries as Netherlands, Greece, Italy and France, and thought the countryside was strikingly beautiful with its old vines and vineyards. Phil enjoyed many wines while traveling and returned home about a year later, going into business with his father (who owned a liquor store), not realizing how important those travels would be to his future. After becoming the wine buyer for his father’s store, Phil had the opportunity to learn more about the wine industry, and by 1979, his interest was piqued enough to spur him to pursue a career in winemaking. Phil then attended Cal State Fresno, and there received a master’s degree in Agricultural Chemistry. By the time this was completed, Phil was certain he was now on the right path.
He entered the wine business in 1983 and worked for the esteemed Yarden Winery in Israel for a period and other small wineries back in the United States. In 1991, his career turned toward the heavens when he landed the prestigious winemaker’s position at heralded Diamond Creek Winery in Napa Valley.
“This was a wonderful chance for me, since Diamond Creek was many people’s idea of the near perfect winery,” he recalled. “It’s owner, Al Brounstein, was one of the iconic figures in the modern Napa Valley hierarchy. It was a real pleasure to get to know him and work with him.”
The arrangement must have been made in heaven because Steinschreiber remains today as Diamond Creek’s winemaker and vineyard manager.
Steinschreiber admitted that he started WaterMark in 2003 as a vehicle to do something on his own.
“Most of my wines have always gotten between a 90 and 95,” he explained. “I knew I could make some really fine wines. I just wanted to do it under my own label.”
This year, WaterMark will produce around 700 cases, a relatively slow growth rate from the winery’s inception. Phil’s plan is to stay at this number for the foreseeable future, which is a comfortable level that allows him to control the future of the winery. Any larger, and the cost of operation becomes somewhat prohibitive.
The fruit Phil uses for WaterMark is a key ingredient in the winery’s success. He buys grapes from vineyards on Howell Mountain, Atlas Peak and Mt. Veeder, three of Napa Valley’s most decorated appellations. His Napa Valley selections originate from valley fruit that he selects and varies according to what is available.
“I actually prefer contracts for my fruit. That way, you know exactly what you are getting each year. The only things that change are the factors that actually affect the harvest for that year, i.e. rain, heat, and the likes.” Phil also has a contract with Diamond Creek Winery, which allows him to make the WaterMark wines at their state-of-art facility.
“The name ‘WaterMark’ originated from my attempt to personalize the winery with a unique name,” he continued. “The idea of a watermark on paper signifies its quality and the water line in creeks and lakes point out the highest point water has reached.”
He is helped by his wife Diane who assists in marketing WaterMark’s wine portfolio. She has also been known to schlep a number of cases for her husband whenever the need arises.
WaterMark’s style is ripe, dark and fully concentrated. Steinschreiber utilizes smooth tannins and wood fermentation whenever the occasion warrants their application.
“If I can be comfortable and make some truly great wines,” Steinschreiber finalized, “that would be okay with me. I’m not sure that anyone could ask for anything more.” Once you taste one of WaterMark’s remarkable wines, you will realize that he has already achieved part of that goal. We're happy to present this wonderful wine to our Platinum Wine Club members.
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Thank you for choosing our WaterMark 2014 Mt. Veeder Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has been rated highly by several wine critics. As the winemaker and owner of WaterMark, and as the winemaker for Diamond Creek Vineyards as well, this wine ranks with the best of Napa Valley.
The vineyards, called Wild Cat Vineyards, are at the 2,000 foot elevation, which allows more UV sunlight to color the fruit. The grapes are nurtured and hand picked, with much work going into manicuring the vines so that the berries ripen to perfection. The clusters are manicured with small scissors to pick the best of the best. Leaves are all pulled by hand to expose the fruit to the sun, and thus develop fine flavors of cherries and berries. The wine was aged for 22 months in new French oak barrels to compliment the wine’s aromas and flavors.
The WaterMark Winery has been in existence for 15 years and I try to concentrate mostly on mountain types of fruit, but also produce a Napa Valley Cabernet from several valley floor vineyards.
Please enjoy the wine, and have a great WaterMark day!
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Thank you for choosing our Watermark 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is receiving accolades now, but is sadly nearly sold out. I’m happy you have the opportunity to try this wine.
The grapes are really hand grown and hand picked with much work going into manicuring the vines so that the berries ripen to perfection. The clusters are manicured with small scissors to pick the best of the best. Leaves are all pulled by hand to expose the fruit to the sun and thus develop fine flavors of cherries and berries. The wine was aged for 22 months in new French oak barrels to compliment the wine’s aromas and flavors.
Watermark Winery has been in existence for 12 years and I try to concentrate mostly on mountain types of fruit, but also produce a Napa Valley Cabernet from several valley floor vineyards.
Please enjoy the wine and have a great Watermark day!