Uniquely Graceful Wines from Arns Winery
Just a hair below Howell Mountain sits 160-acre Arns Winery, east of the City of St. Helen and yielding beautiful grapes from ten planted acres of old vine Cabernet Sauvignon, where its owners farm organically, everything by hand and with love.
Arns Winery started as a team in 1985 with Sandi Belcher and John Arns, both owners of the boutique winery, with Sandi at the helm as their winemaker. “What is there not to love about growing grapes and making fine wine,” she said. “It gives you a connection to the rest of the wine growing regions of the world. We have worked in China, Australia, Europe, Thailand, etc. and have made lifelong friends. It takes a special person to be a grape grower and winemaker. It is not a business for everyone, but when it is, it is in your blood and it lives with you every moment.”
Customer and wine-lover Steven Kam is a huge fan. “Arns Winery is located in a beautiful setting, very private and quiet,” he said. “Sandi is a pleasure to talk to about her wines, grapes and especially about the area surrounding her vineyards. Arns wines are delicious, so you will want to stay and talk to her and linger awhile.” While their yields are low, one to two tons per acre, Belcher said, “you can’t miss the flavors of rocky, hillside Cabernet – it’s very distinctive.” Producing 500- plus cases of their estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the property, they also make an outstanding French Wine Burgundy style Chardonnay from Sonoma County, grown by Charlie Heintz – which yields around 200 cases and is the second oldest Chardonnay vineyard in Sonoma County. “For 10-years we produced a Syrah from Pritchard Hill, grown by John Arns for Melanson Vineyards,” said Belcher.
“Each one of our wines are very unique in style, texture and flavors,” said Belcher. “I have always thought – for the 40 years I have been making wine – that a wine should taste like the grape variety and capture that flavor in the bottle. It is a feat, because our Cabernet is aged for two-plus years in 100-percent new French Oak as the Syrah sees four years in older French Oak. The Chardonnay is aged in 100-percent new French Oak. All this aging, wood, time, stirring, etc., reflect on the character of the varietal character. The plan is long-term aging going into bottle bouquet later years down the road.”
Arns Winery recently opened their 1998 Cabernet and were stunned at how beautiful the wine had held up, offering a savory, mint, chocolate, sweet long rose petal finish, Belcher said. “They are all my favorites for what they have to offer.” Their business philosophy is simple. “To carry on the tradition of making fine wines that will age gracefully over time,” said Belcher. “Sharing your talents with others is very important in the styles in which your wines are made. Our style should not be universal, as that is impossible to do, but unique.”