Foodie Chap w/ Vintners Chris Louton & Katie Madigan of St.Francis Winery
KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
The holidays are here and for many it’s time to celebrate the season with family and friends and a good bottle of wine.
St.Francis winery in Sonoma County has been behind some of California’s most popular wines for decades.
A key member of St. Francis Winery’s production and winemaking team for nearly 10 years, Katie Madigan became a St. Francis Winemaker in 2012.
For Katie, winemaking is the perfect combination of science and creativity. A chemistry major at UC Santa Barbara, she joined St. Francis as a harvest intern in 2002. After working long hours for four months, doing everything from lab work to vineyard visits, she was hooked. “I loved the fast pace and diversity of the job,” she says. “I didn’t want to leave at the end of every day.”
Two years later, Katie became a full-time lab tech at St. Francis and began studying Enology & Viticulture at UC Davis. Promoted to Assistant Winemaker in 2006, she focused on Chardonnay production and championed night picking of all Chardonnay fruit to preserve flavors, aromas, and acid levels.
Katie strives to create wines that are enjoyable, balanced and memorable. She fondly remembers her first bottle of St. Francis wine, a gift from her parents on her 21st birthday. It was a magnum of Cabernet Sauvignon, and she still has the empty bottle. “That was a special memory for me,” Katie says. “I want St. Francis to be the wine people remember.”
As a St. Francis Winemaker, Katie continues St. Francis’ long tradition of creating high quality wines from Sonoma County grapes. She oversees production of Zinfandels and Chardonnays as well as other popular white wines.
Chris Louton brings cutting edge knowledge and finely honed hands-on experience to his role as Winemaker. He joined St. Francis in 2013 after nearly seven years as part of the winemaking team at Napa’s Beringer Vineyards, where he focused on the luxury tier of wines and helped craft award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons and other Bordeaux varietals.
As Associate Winemaker at Beringer, Chris became a devoted fan of Cabernet Sauvignon from Knights Valley and Alexander Valley, which gave him a special appreciation for Sonoma County’s diverse appellations and unique terroir. “The wines from Sonoma express themselves differently than the wines from Napa,” he says. “They have their own unique brightness and great intensity. This is a spectacular place to make Cabernet.”
Making world-class wines wasn’t the career Chris originally planned for himself. He was studying biology at UC Davis with every intention of becoming a veterinarian when he took a winemaking class his senior year. That class hooked him, and instead of applying to vet school after graduation, he went back to UC Davis to study enology and took a job as a harvest intern at Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga. He stayed at Schramsberg for four years, working as an enologist after graduation and later as Assistant Winemaker.
At St. Francis, Chris oversees production of our Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals, as well as our popular Sauvignon Blanc. His goal is to create wines that are approachable, yet compelling, and always a true expression of Sonoma County. Above all, he says, “I want to make wines you want to revisit again and again.”
I traveled to St.Francis winery recently to meet with winemakers Chris Louton and Katie Madigan. As we stolled among the vines we talked about their personal wine journey. This dynamic young winemaking duo also took time to share their favorite wines for the holidays.
VIDEO: “5 Questions with Katie Madigan”
WINE NOTES: St.Francis Winery
2010 CABERNET FRANC SONOMA VALLEY
Storage – French Oak
Aging – 20 Months in barrel
Bottling – August 2012
Alcohol – 14.5% by volume
Case Production – 180 cases
Blend Percentage – 76% Cabernet Franc
13% Merlot, 11% Malbec
Retail Price – $45
Despite its many challenges, 2010 harvest produced fruit with exceptional quality. A long, cool growing season delayed ripening but gave fruit plenty of time to develop complex flavors and aromas. A heat spike in August allowed grapes to reach full maturity with sugar levels slightly lower than usual. As a result, our wines show a bit of restraint but exhibit true elegance, balance, and rich, concentrated flavors.
This luscious Cabernet Franc is made from mountain fruit from our Nuns Canyon Vineyard, located near the top of the Mayacamas Mountains, overlooking Sonoma Valley. Above the fog line, but with cool, evening breezes, the vineyard’s red volcanic soils and slopes produce small yields of intense, highly concentrated fruit. We blend in 13% Merlot from our Behler Vineyard and 11% Malbec from our Wild Oak Vineyard to add depth and complexity.
All grapes are hand-picked, hand-sorted and undergo a five-day cold soak to extract optimal color and flavor. After primary fermentation, the wine is pumped into 100% French oak barrels, where it undergoes 100% malolacticfermentation, followed by 20 months of aging.
Delicate but powerful, our newest Cabernet Franc combines aromas of red cherries, cocoa powder, dried currants and green peppercorns with meaty flavors and a long, silky peppery finish.
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