Winemaker Janice Schmidt MS Enology has accomplished what few winemakers have achieved in their first year of production - three of the four wines released from the family winery, Estate 1856, Healdsburg, have gold medaled five times, including a coveted double gold at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition.
With a total of 17 medals in their first year, Estate 1856 has emerged as one of the up-and-coming Sonoma County wineries and Janice joins a growing group of women winemakers in the country.
No stranger to the wine industry, Janice learned the art of making a fine Cabernet Sauvignon from winemaker Rob Davis (and consulting winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff) during her twenty years as Enologist at Jordan Winery. Janice's first production of Cabernet, the Estate 1856 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, was the only Dry Creek Valley Cabernet to receive a double gold medal at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition.
It is featured in the September 2012 issue of Wine Enthusiast, having earned 90 points in their wine evaluation. "I'm thrilled and honored by this recognition. We've sold Cabernet to wineries for the past thirty years but it's so much more rewarding to make our own wines and receive such glowing reviews," Janice says. "Our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is unusually rich, with complex fruit and herbal notes that resulted from a blend of four separate Cabernet clones grown on our vineyard."
Janice is also an emerging talent in the creation of rich, fruit forward blends. "Trying to find the one out of a thousand potential blends that create the right balance of flavor, aroma and mouth feel is like solving a puzzle. It's a surprisingly arduous process," she says. "The first step is to taste each potential blending component individually, where you can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each wine. I build around a strong Cabernet core (75%) and use Petit Verdot to add depth and richness. Malbec adds bold fruit flavors, aroma and complexity."
The Estate 1856 2009 Cabernet Bordeaux Blend received gold medals at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the 2012 Sunset International Wine Competition.
Janice has also spearheaded the winery's diversification into more unique offerings, including their 2009 Petit Verdot, which received a gold medal at the 2012 San Antonio Wine Competition, and their Merlot-based NV Dessert Wine, which has medaled in several competitions.
Estate 1856 Wines was developed to highlight the grapes grown from Tzabaco Rancho Vineyards. Founded in 1856 by great-great-grandfather D.D. Phillips, the property has been farmed for the past 150 years and now rests in the capable hands of Brian and Janice Schmidt who note "we have had such fun getting in front of consumers and sharing our story this year!"