Stout Family Wines

My job is amazing. This week, I had lunch with Guy Stout, the second Master Sommelier in Texas and the owner of Stout Family Wines. We sat at a sunlit table in the elegant dining room of 61 Osteria in downtown Fort Worth, sipping through his exquisite wines over lunch. (Highly recommend it! Arancini might just be my new favorite appetizer downtown.)

Guy Stout boasts over 30 years of experience working in wine sales for various distributors. His knowledge of wine is unparalleled, and his personality is lively and engaging. It seems he knows someone in every room and has a ready smile and laugh for each of them. Stout initiated his wine brand, Stout Family Wines, in Texas in 1999 before achieving the Master Sommelier title in 2005. Following a decade of less-than-stellar vintages in Texas Stout was ready to move on. According to him, only three out of ten vintages are any good. Spurred by his son, Ian’s encouragement, he launched a wine brand in Napa Valley. The inaugural vintage of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was in 2011.

The entire family is deeply rooted in the wine business. Stout had his sons work as apprentices in wineries during their summer breaks to provide them with real-world experience. In places like Rombauer. Today, his son Ian remains in the industry in Napa Valley, while his brothers pursue careers in corporate America. Gary and his wife, Kim, handle the day-to-day operations of the business from Houston, partnering with winemaker Tom Rinaldi. Rinaldi, the winemaker behind Duckhorn wines for over twenty years, brings a wealth of experience- he helped create ‘Napa Sauvignon Blanc’ as a category. 

Leveraging shared history and longstanding relationships, Stout discreetly sources some of the finest fruit in Napa Valley. Silently. A few tons here, a few tons there. The wine labels always bear the ‘Napa Valley’ designation, affording Stout the flexibility to adjust his vineyard sources as availability fluctuates. Quantities are limited—only a few barrels of each are produced. The wines are then hand bottled by the Stout family and a group of close friends. You’ll never come across these wines on grocery shelves. Often, they aren’t available year-round as the winery sells out.

Sip through this trio of wines and relish Stout’s tribute to family and Napa Valley.


A Hidden Gem in Santa Barbara County

Hello there, 

I love hidden gem wines – wineries that are relatively unknown. Being able to fetch a bottle from the wine fridge that impresses everyone at the table, and then going back for a second because it’s just that good and accessible. Gainey Vineyards has been my go-to for summer gatherings this year. Nestled among esteemed vine-growing neighbors such as Sine Qua Non, Melville, Brewer-Clifton, and Fiddlesticks, Gainey Vineyards offers something truly special – without the hefty price tag.

Located in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, Gainey is situated 130 miles north of Los Angeles. (I remember the geography by picturing the saints sitting above the angels.) Dan Gainey established the vineyards over sixty years ago as a side line to the farm’s primary business of hay production. They began making their own wines over forty years ago, quietly producing some of the tastiest wines you’ve never heard of.

This week I’m offering a trio of the Gainey wines:

1. Gainey Chardonnay, Sta Rita Hills 2020

This Chardonnay is the epitome of summer in a bottle. Light, peachy, smooth, and crisp, it strikes the perfect balance that even non-Chardonnay lovers can’t resist. I may have stashed a case at home, savoring every last drop. Oops, maybe I shouldn’t be sharing this little secret with everyone..

2. Gainey Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills 2020

If you adore the likes of Clark & Telephone, Melville, or Brewer-Clifton, then this Pinot Noir is a match made in heaven for you. With a perfect balance of ripe cherry and raspberry notes intertwined with hints of spice, it’s a velvety, underpriced gem that will make your heart sing.

3. Gainey Vineyards Merlot, Santa Ynez Valley 2018

Don’t let that movie Sideways discourage you from experiencing the magic of Merlot. Trust me, this one is worth a try. Founder, Dan Gainey, didn’t uproot his Merlot vines after the film’s release, and thank goodness for that. With its plummy character, chocolate undertones, and a touch of freshness to combat the Texas summer heat, it’s a true winner.

So, my friend, let’s kick back, pour a glass of Gainey Vineyards’ finest, and revel in the end of summer. Cheers to moments filled with good wine, good company, and unforgettable memories!

Wishing you sunny sips,

Hey there wine enthusiast!

In the realm of wine, there are names that shine like stars, just like Tom Brady in football or the Williams sisters in tennis. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to one such titan of terroir: Philippe Melka.

‘Melka-like’ has become shorthand for bold, rich, and powerful reds. His style leans toward intense flavors and velvety tannins. Any sommelier worth their salt can pick you a wine you will love if you can tell them what you like- and if you like Melka wines- you can simply tell them that. 

Try this trio of wines by Melka, spanning from California to Washington.

1)Melka ‘CJ,’ Napa Valley:

Named after Philippe Melka’s two children, Chloe and Jeremy, CJ is a wine crafted with love for his family. With under 1,500 cases produced annually, this blend consists of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot sourced from hillside vineyards in Southern Napa Valley.

2) AdamVS ‘Terres,’ Howell Mountain:

As a consulting client, AdamVS is an exquisite jewel of a vineyard nestled on Howell Mountain. If you appreciate wines from Dunn and La Jota, this one’s for you. True to Melka’s signature style, the tannins are velvety, while the intense flavors of blackberries sourced from the mountain make their presence known.

3)Long Shadows Vintners, Pirouette, Columbia Valley:

Long Shadows takes a unique approach to winemaking by collaborating with experts in particular styles. In the case of Pirouette, Melka makes his contribution to this Washington winery. A beautiful blend akin to CJ, but sourced from fruit in the Columbia Valley, it offers an earthier profile with a lighter touch on the palate compared to AdamVS or CJ.

Melka’s Story

Hailing from Bordeaux, France, Philippe’s journey into winemaking started with a degree in geology. His passion for wine led him to pursue a master’s degree in winemaking, and destiny brought him to the prestigious Château Haut Brion for an internship during his university days. The prestige in this internship would be like a finance internship at Goldman Sachs or an aspiring fashion writer getting a job at Vogue. 

In 1991, Philippe joined the iconic Dominus Estate in California, where he showcased his winemaking prowess. Later, he took on the role of winemaker at Ridge in the early 1990s, perfecting his craft and honing his skills. During this time, he also embarked on a beautiful journey of love, learning English with the help of a talented lab technician named Cherie, who would later become his wife.

The dynamic duo established their own venture, Atelier Melka, allowing them to work together and combine their expertise. Cherie’s specialization in microbiology and Philippe’s winemaking create the perfect team. In 1996, Lail Vineyards and Seavey Vineyard became their first clients. Twenty-seven years later, they remain clients. Robert Parker named him in the top ten winemakers in the world in 2015 and this holds true today.

The Melkas are truly a power couple in the wine world, leaving a trail of excellence wherever they go. Philippe’s incredible talent has earned him numerous 100-point scores, beginning with Dana Estates in 2007 and continuing to this day.

Cheers to the legends of the wine world, and here’s to raising a glass filled with Philippe Melka’s extraordinary creations!

Your wine-loving friend,

Hey there, wine aficionados!

I’ve got a story for you that involves dirt, unexpected guests, and a memorable tasting experience with Chateau d’Aquaria Tavel Rosé. Buckle up for a wild ride!

Picture this: I had the incredible opportunity to meet Ralf Garcin, the winemaker behind Chateau d’Aquaria. I’m excited- I’ve sold the man’s wines for over a decade. Now, let me preface this tale by saying that I run a small business, and our meeting was scheduled to take place at my house instead of my usual warehouse. Little did I know, this decision would make it a truly unforgettable encounter.

In the days leading up to the tasting, I found myself knee-deep in a gardening project. My husband and I were up to our elbows in dirt, transplanting boxwood shrubs. And of course, Murphy’s Law came into play—yes, I forgot to put the tasting appointment on my calendar.

Fast forward to the appointed time, and the doorbell rings. I opened it, expecting a food delivery, but instead, I was greeted by a wine rep and the impeccably clean Ralf Garcin. Meanwhile, I stood there covered in dirt, a true sight to behold. Talk about an embarrassing moment!

After a hasty sink-scrubbing session, we sat down to taste the wines. They, looked sharp in their crisp, white shirts, and I, a complete mess. But you know what? Sometimes the most unconventional moments make for the most memorable experiences.

Amidst my dirty appearance, I sipped through a vertical tasting of Rolf’s masterpieces, ranging from 2022 to 2017 vintages. Ralf shared fascinating stories about Chateau d’Aquaria’s four-hundred-year history, their dedication to biodiversity, and achieving organic certification. I even learned about the sheep they let roam among the vines to keep things in check and provide natural fertilizer. Ralph was too much of a gentleman to allude to the fertilizer that clung to my shoes at the time. 

Now, let’s talk about the wine itself. Chateau d’Aquaria Tavel Rosé is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Clairette. It boasts an alluring bouquet of rose petals, ripe strawberries, and a subtle hint of spice. It’s a wine that surprises and delights with every sip, whether you’re sipping it on a sunny patio or indulging in a delicious meal.

So, my fellow adventurers, I invite you to enjoy a sample of different styles of rose. This three bottle selection includes the unique Chateau d’Aquaria Tavel Rosé, as well as two other French sippers. Rosés from Provence are fresh, fruity, crisp and dry. Tavel rosés showcase red berries, almonds and floral notes. Rhône Valley Rosés show the the red fruit notes of Tavel with the citrus notes of Provence. Explore a few new bottlings and see what suits you best. 

If nothing else I hope you got a laugh out of my misadventure. Let’s raise our glasses and celebrate the unexpected moments that make life so much more interesting. 

Cheers to dirt-covered tales and unforgettable wine experiences!

Yours in wine,

Michelle Rossotti

The Grape Lady

Similar Sips: Caymus Killers

 Exceptional Alternatives for Napa Cab Lovers

Hey there, wine enthusiasts!

Let’s talk about the reigning king of Napa Cabernet: Caymus. As of 2022, Caymus Cabernet held the crown as the most consumed Napa Cabernet, according to Cellar Tracker data. Founded by Chuck Wagner and his family in 1972, Caymus Vineyards has become synonymous with affordable, accessible luxury. Producing a staggering 200,000 cases of wine annually, they stand out from many other Napa luxury wineries that produce a fraction of that amount.

Caymus is renowned for its rich, round, and dark-fruited character with a hint of sweetness. As a sommelier, I can’t deny its appeal, but here’s the thing—it can sometimes be a bit frustrating. Many wine drinkers get caught in the Caymus bubble, reluctant to explore beyond their comfort zone, and discover new wines. Life is simply too short to limit ourselves to just one wine, wouldn’t you agree?

That’s where I come in. I have a curated selection of wines I like to call “Caymus Killers.” If you like Caymus- you will love these wines. Try this three pack!

So, my Caymus-loving friend, I invite you to step outside your comfort zone and explore. These three wines are from California, but from outside of Napa Valley. Embrace the adventure, savor new flavors, and discover the hidden gems that await your palate. Remember, there’s a whole universe of exceptional wines just waiting to be explored.

Cheers to expanding horizons and discovering new favorites!

Your wine-loving guide,