Sonoma County region
Platinum Plus! Selection - Top Score: 9.5 Points Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP
Growing up on the Russian River, Nikolai Stez was drawn to the wine industry at an early age and began experimenting with home winemaking during his early college days. The hobby stuck, and by 1986 Stez was mentoring at legendary Williams Selyem Winery in Healdsburg, California. He worked an impressive seventeen harvests at Williams Selyem, and for a time, served as assistant winemaker to Burt Williams, from whom he gained incredible inspiration, and it confirmed his life’s passion for wine. With the sale of Williams Selyem in 1997, Stez moved on and started his own label, which he called Woodenhead Vintners. The small winery was established by 1999 with a pure and simple winemaking style – one Stez refers to as “Burgundian done California style.” His profile is predominantly Pinot Noir (about 60%), with the remainder including mostly Zinfandel, Carignane, Syrah and French Colombard. With just 3,500 cases produced each year, Woodenhead Vintners is an ultra boutique winery that has quickly gained a cult-like following in the Russian River area. Stez is assisted by his domestic partner, Zina Bower, who oversees the marketing and business side of their small winery entity. Together, they share an undeniable passion for wine and maintain a vision to handcraft unique, ultra premium wines from a hard labor of love.