Stephen Ross Wine Cellars

San Luis Obispo Small Production Urban Winery

Acclaim for Other Wines • 1998–2011

Acclaimiii Design

2008 Pinot Gris – Sierra Madre Vineyard 

Wine Enthusiast, November, 2009 - 87 points.  From an important and famous old vineyard in cool Santa Barbara County comes this crisp, zesty wine. Tart, citrusy acidity brightens the flavors of pineapples, green apples, tangerines, vanilla and honeysuckle.  - S.H.

2007 Zinfandel - Dante Dusi Vineyard

Wine Enthusiast, May, 2011 - 90 points. A good, dry Zinfandel marked by flavors of freshly crushed black pepper sprinkled over ripe crushed blackberry liqueur. The all-important tannins give the richness a firm structure. The wine is a little hot in alcohol, but barbecue and richly sauced beef and chicken dishes will stand up well. -S.H.

2006 Zinfandel – Dante Dusi Vineyard 

Wine Enthusiast, November, 2009 - 87 points.  Shows the ripe fruit and spicy flavors this vineyard is known for, with strong flavors of blackberries, black cherries, raspberries, cola, anise, sandalwood and pepper. The alcohol is high and acidity is low, but it’s a delicious Zin to drink now with barbecue or roasts.  - S.H.

2003 Petite Sirah - Thomann Station

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, February, 2006 - 90 pts - Exceptional. Bright purple hue. Black raspberry, boysenberry and mint aromas. Medium-full to full-bodied, this is very rich with superripe blackberry and black raspberry fruit and a finish with nice persistence of fruit, refined tannins and nicely integrated oak. (tasted on December 1, 2005)

Wine Enthusiast, March 2006 - 90 pts.  This is the quintessential Napa Petite Sirah: rich, balanced and enormously fruity.  It's really as good as Pet gets; it's a firm, chunky dry wine, with the variety's distinctively shabby-chic personality. 

Wine Spectator, March 31, 2006 - 86 points, Very good, a wine with special qualities. The aromas capture ripe blueberry and boysenberry fruit and it has the tannic muscle you expect from Petite Sirah. Finishes with a burst of fruit wrapped in chewy tannins. Decant. Drink now. 

2003 Zinfandel - Dante Dusi Vineyard

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, February, 2006 - 91 pts - Exceptional. Brilliant ruby red hue. Cedar, sage and raspberry aromas. Medium-full with a rich entry on the palate, this has textbook Zinfandel fruit (raspberry) and spice (sage, oregano) and a lengthy finish with youthful tannins and nicely integrated oak. (Tasted on December 1, 2005) 

Wine Enthusiast, March 2006 - 85 pts.  Soft and voluptuous in texture, with amazingly rich blackberry pie, cherry marmalade and cocoa flavors, this Zin finishes a little on the sweet side.  But it's a friendly charmer. 

2002 Petite Sirah - Thomann Station, Napa Valley

Wine & Spirits Magazine, February, 2005 - 91 pts.  You could curse this wine when it stains your black sweater.  You could try to dismiss it as a cheap date with a hamburger.  But how could you not give in to the delicious burst of fruit?  And you have to admit, there are some fine, stony tannins behind all the juice.  Put this away for ten years, and it may turn out to be much more than a sweet, immediate pleasure.  

2002 Zinfandel - Dante Dusi Vineyard

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, February, 2005 - 90 pts - Exceptional.

Wine News, June/July 2005 - 90 points.  Vibrant ruby hue. Spicy cherry aromas blend with tobacco and cedar notes. Plump cherry and strawberry flavors with an aggressive charred oak overlay. Lingering sweetness in the close.

2001 Petite Sirah - Thomann Station, Napa Valley

Wine Spectator, January 15, 2004 - 88 pts: Burly, with deeply concentrated blackberry, blueberry and earth flavors. Chewy, brawny tannins pound on the finish. Hints of cedar and pencil lead poke through. Drink now through 2009.

The Wine News, April/May 2004 -  90 points.  Black-purple hue. Complex aromas of fresh berries, black cherry, mulberry, tar and cedar.  Vibrant flavors of blackberry, citrus peel, clove, black licorice and cedar. Dry, spicy finish accented by coffee and evergreen.

Decanter, December, 2004 - Four stars **** Highly recommended. Impossibly dark colour, huge density and richness but somehow exudes grace.  Up to six yours. Gorgeous.

Wine & Spirits Magazine, April, 2004 - 93 pts.  Stick-to-the-ribs petite sirah, to your own or, more sensibly, to the barbecued ribs you serve with it.  Following up on an equally great 2000, this latest release from Stephen Ross strikes a delicious balance of ripe blueberry and sweet cherry flavor that makes the hard-edged mineral tannin feel like velvet.  Fresh acidity cuts through what might otherwise be thickness to leave a bright, vivid impression. Ready to enjoy for the floral tones of its youth, this will transform to a grand old Napa red with ten years of age.  

2001 Zinfandel - Dante Dusi Vineyard

Wine Enthusiast , November 2003 - 90 pts., Editors' Choice.  Full bodied and firm textured, with layers of black cherry, plum, raspberry, cola, tea, spice and toast flavors. The wine is muscular, yet sleek, showing the elegance of this grape variety as well as its effusiveness.

Connoisseurs' Guide, January, 2004 - 88 points, One Star: Up-front fruit and unabashed ripeness add up to a tasty and very obvious Zinfandel whose drift to dryness is halted by a welcome splash of sweetening oak. A solid, well-filled wine that wants richer foods as a foil to its underlying heat, it should come into its own when teamed with pot roast simmered in a spicy tomato sauce.

The Wine Advocate, Issue 149, October, 2003 - 86 pts. From a vineyard planted in 1945, the unfined/unfiltered 2001 Zinfandel Dante Dusi Vineyard was aged 15 months in oak. Its dense ruby color is followed by an emerging nose of plums, cherries, and dark currants along with woodsy tree bark-like characteristics. The acidity is sharp in this medium to full-bodied, spicy, gutsy wine. It carries its 15.2% alcohol surprisingly well. Drink this uncomplex Zinfandel over the next 2 - 3 years.  

2001 Zinfandel - Monte Rosso Vineyard

Wine Enthusiast, November 2003 - 89 pts.  Smooth textured and rich, with plush tannins framing a core of pretty black cherry, plum, blackberry, anise, toast, vanilla and spice flavors. The wine is well integrated and shows plenty of class. Big and rich on the finish.

The Wine Advocate, Issue 149, October, 2003 - 87 pts. The dense ruby-colored 2001 Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard (15.2% alcohol) emerges from 100+ year old vines. The bouquet offers up abundant quantities of briery, berry fruit, underbrush, pepper, and spice. Although the acidity is not totally integrated, this is a fleshy, rich, medium to full-bodied, impressive Zinfandel made in a big, muscular, tangy/tart style. It will drink well for 2 - 3 years.

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, July, 2004 - 91pts - Exceptional.  

2000 Zinfandel - Monte Rosso Vineyard

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, May, 2002 - 91 pts. Brilliant ruby red hue. Cedar, black cherry and raspberry aromas. A full-bodied palate offers excellent concentration of fruit while the finish has firm tannins and vibrant acidity. An old vine Zin with finesse.  

2000 Zinfandel - Dante Dusi Vineyard

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, May, 2002 - 88 pts. "Highly recommended." Brilliant ruby red hue. Cherry, red licorice, vanilla aromas. A medium-full palate displays perfectly ripe fruit, while the long, elegant finish offers well-integrated tannins and fine acidity. 

The Wine News, February/March 2003 -  89 points. Deep ruby hue. Aromas of boysenberry, cherry, dried tobacco, mocha and cedar. Tangy acidity enlivens extracted flavors of blackberry, black cherry, chocolate, anise and cedar. Clean, sweet close.

Wine Enthusiast magazine, September, 2003 - 89 pts

Wine Enthusiast, September, 2003 - 89 points, Good value, recommended.  Only a touch of jammy raspberry aromas to the nose, and then a little bit of char on the edges.  Beyond that, this is a lighter-framed, more elegant Zin.  The palate is round and fresh, with spicy berry flavors.  The finish is warm and expands, exposing the wine's depth and balance.  Not a stud but a solid performer.   

2000 Petite Sirah - Thomann Station, Napa Valley

Tastings: The Journal of the Beverage Testing Institute, May, 2002 - 90 pts. "Exceptional." Brilliant deep purple hue. Oak, blackberry, iris and caramel aromas. A full-bodied palate leads to a big finish with ample fruit, balanced tannins and vibrant acidity. Meant for the long-haul. 

Wine & Spirits Magazine, February, 2003 - 94pts. A classic California red, this dynamic wine grows more potent and saturated as it takes on air. And yet it holds clean as rain, even as the density of juicy red currant and powerful black berry fruit fills every pore in the mouth, the wine continues to feel fresh. The changes that air brings on show how the tarry astringency will be soaked up into the red zone of fruit as the wine ages. Keep it for ten years or more, and drink some along the way with mushroom dishes.

Wine Enthusiast, April, 2003 - 88 points. There's plenty of pleasure in this wine. With its bright, focused flavors of cherries and blackberries. Tasters noted a range of herbal, earthy notes, including eucalyptus and mint.  The forward flavors drink soft but are held in place with firm tannins that melt on the long, slightly hot finish.

The Wine News, August/September 2003 - 92 points. Fragrant, appealing nose of freshly crushed blackberry and brown spice.  Smooth,  

1999 Zinfandel - Monte Rosso Vineyard

Wine Enthusiast magazine, December 15, 2001 - 92 pts. This Zin has lots of alcohol, nearly 16%, but you'd never know it because it's so balanced. It's rich, harmonious, fruity and very dry, with that wild, savage quality that marks this variety.  In its own way, it's classic Sonoma Zin, and from a great vineyard.  Editors' Choice. - J. M. 

The Wine Advocate, Issue 137, November, 2001 - 85 pts. The 1999 Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard offers a medium ruby color in addition to a straightforward, simple bouquet of black cherry and berry fruit mixed with spicy pepper and earth. Additional notions of oak emerge on the palate. Drink this elegant, restrained Zinfandel over the next 12-18 months. 

The Wine News, February/March 2002 - 90 pts. Concentrated fuchsia hue. Penetrating scents of plum and eucalyptus with a hint of tar. Thick and juicy with ripe flavors of plum, blueberry and blackberry. Polished tannins and continued blackberry notes resonate in the supple close. 

1999 Zinfandel - Dusi/Martini Vineyard

Wine Enthusiast magazine, December 15, 2001 - 85 pts. Very ripe, it displays raisiny aromas riding over wild berry and spice.  There's heat and tannins in the mouth, and acids, too, resulting in a certain austerity and angularity.  It's not a hedonistic Zin, although rich, oily foods will coax outthe underlying sweet berry flavors. - S. H. 

The Wine Advocate, Issue 137, November, 2001 - 85 pts. The darker - colored 1999 Zinfandel, Dusi/Martini Vineyard (86% from the former and 14% from the latter) displays a moderately intense late harvest, briery, berry character. In the mouth, there is more tangy acidity, medium body, and a compressed finish. Drink it over the next year. 

1998 Zinfandel - Monte Rosso Vineyard

The Insiders' Wine Line, October, 2000 - 93 pts: It has a lovely perfumed bouquet of briary berries, pie cherry, black pepper, brown spice with floral highlights. The flavors of red pit fruits, red berries, licorice, toast and spice are lush and complex followed by an exotic, fruity, spicy finish.