Wine Spots Wines
Napa Valley AVA
By tasting a huge number of wines from around the world, owner Daniel finally settled in on what he really wanted to do - open his own winery in Sonoma County.
There aren’t many practicing lawyers who have given up the courtroom to become winery owners.
In the case of Wine Spots Wines’ owner Daniel Le Francois, 56, the story of his real-life odyssey into the wine world bears revealing.
Le Francois attended the University of Virginia and graduated with a law degree. He joined a Washington-based law firm and began the practice of law. Some time later, Le Francois realized the exercise of law was not for him, so he set out for an extended backpack adventure in Asia and other places.
He eventually ended up in Europe and was particularly impressed with France. It was there that he first experienced the great grape’s calling, and he readily admits the time was the beginning of his sojourn to become owner of Wine Spots Wines.
“I was in Southern France, in Bordeaux’s Saint-Émilion to be exact,” he recalled. “Something about the place, the ambiance, the greatness of the wines - well, they had an amazing effect on me. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be associated in some way with wine.”
For the next few decades, Daniel Le Francois worked at a number of assorted jobs within the wine industry. He became a vice president for the well-respected French cognac producer, Camus, where he developed new brand innovations for the company.
“We were right near Bordeaux so I had the opportunity to taste and visit most of the great Châteaux of the region and learn about wine,” Le Francois went on. “I even had the chance to eat at Château Lafite Rothschild a number of times. It was all a great opportunity for me.”
Le Francois eventually became associated with Asian duty-free shops, where he became the wine buyer for the multi-national collection of stores. During that time, he tasted a huge number of wines from around the world and finally settled in on what he really wanted to do - open his own winery in Sonoma County.
“I had always dreamed of doing my own thing,” he added. “I felt I had acquired a really good sense of terroir, meaning the identification of exactly where a wine comes from. I had tasted many thousands of wines from just about everywhere and I had learned to identify certain aspects of their origin. I wanted to put that knowledge to good use.”
Wine Spots Wines first saw the light of day in 2005, with a modest release of around 600 cases. That level has grown steadily and the company now produces around 3,000 cases per annum.
All Wine Spots Wines’ fruit is sourced from Le Francois’ large number of contacts within the wine grower family. “I have worked with many of these people for a number of years and I am able to consistently buy some of the best fruit available. After all, it’s all about place, isn’t it? The best places produce the finest wines, right?” he asked.
What about the name?
“I was traveling at one point, and a drop of wine fell on my map. I was in wine country and the drop made me think of how nice it would be to be able to point out the exact location of the vineyard. I also thought it would make an interesting name for a winery,” he finalized. Each wine produced by Wine Spots Wines cleverly details the exact spot where it was grown, a first in the wine business.
Daniel Le Francois is joined in his efforts by noted winemaker Scott Peterson, who serves as his consulting winemaker. Peterson, a UC Davis alum, has been with Le Francois for more than a decade and has had a firm hand in directing Wine Spots Wines’ particular style and direction for its wines.
Many accolades and high scores have vaulted Wine Spots Wines into the rarefied air of the highest-caliber Sonoma County wine producers. Its ascension to that level shows what perseverance and a great palate can provide a fledgling winery.
We are happy to introduce Wine Spots Wines to our Platinum Wine Club members with this magnificent Merlot selection and our Garagiste Wine Club members with a superb Red Blend. We are sure you will hear a great deal more about this winery in the future. Enjoy!
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members
It is with great pleasure that I present my 2017 Napa Valley Merlot to the Platinum Wine Club members. Wine Spots was born from two of my personal passions: travel and wine. The name is a reference to a moment that forever shaped my life. I was backpacking in France and had stopped in a small cafe in Paris. As I was enjoying a glass of wine and contemplating my next adventure, I spilled a drop of wine on my map, right next to Saint-Émilion. This “spot” inspired a journey to Bordeaux, where my passion for wine was ignited. Twenty five years later, after having worked in the wine industry and traveled around the world, I was able to bring my dream of crafting my own wines to life. I wanted to showcase wines from my favorite wine spots around the world. And so, Wine Spots was born.
It was through my travels in France that I fell in love with Merlot and its influence on Bordeaux-styled wines. Merlot is an amazing varietal, as it truly showcases the terroir of the vineyard. Our Napa Valley Merlot is from select vineyard lots in Stags Leap, Rutherford, and St. Helena AVA’s. Each vineyard provides its own unique character into the final blend, creating a beautiful wine that showcases this Old World varietal with New World fruit and winemaking. I have added a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec in the classic French tradition, to add depth and complexity. It is the wine that I open when enjoying an evening with my family or that I gift to friends on special occasions.
I have found that wine, as in life, is about the journey, not the destination. I hope you enjoy your journey through the world of wine as you discover your favorite spots.
Daniel Le Francois