Crafting an Award-Winning Wine List Starts With The Heart
If it were not for our gracious distributors, our wine (and beverage) program would not be nearly as successful. We are lucky enough to work with 25 different distributors who present us with new, potential items for our list almost daily. That gives us a lot to choose from, including nearly 5,000 pinot noir options alone, each one being unique in its own right.
With so many high-quality wine options, how do we possibly choose what to include? More often than not, it’s the story behind the wine that moves us.
How did great-grandma Detert end up with a vineyard in the heart of To-Kalon? How did Miro end up in Sonoma after being raised in Bulgaria? How did Ken Siebert’s grandparents choose the exact spot to plant their vineyard?
These stories are the essence of each wine, which we often hear pieces of through the sales team. But nothing compares to hearing that story first hand and participating in the experience of bringing wine to life.
The Story of Ancient Oak Cellars + 1776
We met Ancient Oak Cellars’ owner, Melissa Moholt-Siebert, by chance, at a tasting event in 2017. The wine vendor at a neighboring table decided to finish up early, so Melissa called us over and shared her wines with us.
She didn’t think twice about it, and it was this kindness, as well as her personality, the quality of wines and the story of Ancient Oak Cellars, that made it an easy decision to bring them on board.
Ancient Oak Cellars states, “winemaking isn’t just a recipe or a process, it’s a willingness to take a ride on the wild side, a treat, a celebration, a thrill. But it is also a very dedicated vocation, a state of mindfulness that lives among and listens to the growing vines, and to the wine fermenting in-barrel.”
This speaks directly to our hearts and our own mission.
Just a few short months after meeting Melissa, the fires that ravaged parts of Sonoma and Napa in 2017, began. Sadly, Ancient Oak Cellars was one of the properties that was decimated by the fires. Melissa and her husband, Ken, lost not only their home, but also the vineyard that Ken’s grandparents planted so many years ago.
It was devastating and our hearts mourned alongside theirs. Despite the miles between us and the few short months we’d known them, they were our family and we had to help.
So, we did what anyone would do: we added their pinot noir and chardonnay to our by-the-glass list of wines, and donated the proceeds back to rebuilding the vineyard. We traveled to Sonoma to present them with the donation check, and while there, we were fortunate enough to see their property and vineyards firsthand, as well as meet their amazing winemaker, Greg La Follette.
Later that fall, they invited us back to help with the Ancient Oak Cellars’ harvest and join Greg in the winemaking process. Through this, we quickly learned the romance of wine is a labor of love, with long hours, little sleep and strenuous labor. It is truly amazing to see how much work goes into each bottle.
Great news came this summer, when Ancient Oak Cellars was finally permitted to replant their vineyards! I was honored to be invited back to help with this process. With endless feet of irrigation tubing, I tended to nearly 1,200 chardonnay vines that were planted by hand, one-by-one. I was able to see and experience, from deep within the ground to high above the hillside, what makes Siebert Ranch such a special place.
The time spent with Melissa, Ken and Greg is more rewarding than anything found in a sales presentation. Every story, every piece of history they share, gives insight into what makes Ancient Oak Cellars so special. And we hope you feel it in every bottle opened and every glass poured.
So, how do we choose our wines? It has to be the perfect combination of great people, a special place and a beautiful product.