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“Great Wines”
Review of St. Amant Winery

St. Amant Winery
Ranked #22 of 40 things to do in Lodi
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: In 1970, Tim and Barbara St. Amant Spencer purchased 43 acres in the Jackson Valley of Amador County and decided to plant Zinfandel. As Tim began to fall in love with Port wine, he contacted UC Davis to see what Portuguese varieties were available to plant in California. Those first Portuguese grapes ripened in the fall of 1981, and were sold to a now defunct winery named JW Morris. Shortly after harvest, Tim received a tip that the winery was going to file for bankruptcy, leaving us holding the bag. He quickly realized that selling wine bottle by bottle was preferable to going broke, and so he set out in his pickup truck to reclaim whatever wine was decent. Arriving at a nearly deserted warehouse Tim discovered 300 gallons of young port wine from our Amador County vineyard. He colorfully instructed the reluctant cellar worker to load that wine in his pickup, and thus, St. Amant Winery was born. That first wine, our 1981 Vintage Port, was a hit and still stands as a testament to all that is possible with these unique varieties in our vineyard. By the late 80's the white Zinfandel craze took off and we had several very profitable years selling grapes. This provided us the resources to open our own winery, where we could control every aspect of production from crushing to bottling. We opened our winery in 1990 in French Camp, CA. This was not wine country, and at a time when Americans were just getting comfortable with the French varietal wines, we were focused on Portuguese varieties, port-styled wines, and other obscure wines! 1996 marked a dark year in our history. Our vineyard was dying of phyloxera, and when you are a vertically integrated winery, growing your own grapes, and making your own wine, and your vineyard dies - you've got a problem. At this point, Tim worked out a deal with the Lodi Winegrape Commission - if a grower brought us 2 tons of grapes, we would make the wine, and give them 25 cases, and keep the balance for ourselves. We had numerous growers take us up on the offer, and then one day Jerry Fry showed up with 7 tons of beautiful Old Vine Zinfandel grapes. Tim didn't know what to do. We didn't have the money to pay for the grapes, and we had no idea how the wine would turn out. Jerry told Tim not to worry about it, that we would work it out later. We ended up bottling 450 cases of that first vintage. The Mohr-Fry Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel won a bunch of awards, sold out quickly, and to this day remains our most popular wine. Throughout the remainder of the 90's, we meticulously redeveloped our Amador County vineyard, and doubled down on Portuguese varieties. In 2004, at 66 years old, Tim was diagnosed with Lymphoma. After a hard-fought two year battle, Tim passed away 3 days before harvest. Tim's son, Stuart Spencer, took over as winemaker for St. Amant, and has continued to honor his father's legacy by making fine Portuguese wines. Barbara, Tim's wife, continues to manage the business, and ensure that Tim's legacy is always honored.
Reviewed April 30, 2015 via mobile

Small family winery
Barbara the owner and wine maker is there to pour and discuss the wines. They have exceptional wines of the Rhone varieties and remarkable ports. Well worth a visit

Thank David K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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7 - 8 of 8 reviews

Reviewed November 25, 2014

This is a small family owned winery with very pleasant people. Their tasting is complimentary -- most of the other wineries charge $5 pp. Their Old Zin and Ports are really good.

Thank Ronald G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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