Bringing World-Class Bordeaux to Livermore Wine Country
Lineage Wine is part of an untold story: Livermore Valley’s first- growth winery, 165 years in the making, circumscribing the entire history of the Mirassou family in America and tracing nearly the entirety of the Livermore commercial-wine experience.
The idea that an undiscovered gem of a wine-region like the Livermore Valley could ever aspire to Napa-level quality may seem implausible to some, however, the history of Livermore’s status as the first great wine region in California has been unfolding for over 100 years. Mirassou has long held that Napa is not singular in its ability to grow outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon though it is rightfully seen as the benchmark now. “The Napa Valley story is well-known and has been repeated so often that it has lost the power to inspire,” Mirassou says. “Why would one want to be the 500th person from Napa to attempt to make iconic wine when you can be the first from the Livermore Valley?
THE LINEAGE OF LINEAGE WINE
In 1889, Paris marked the completion of the Eiffel Tower with the Paris Exhibition which contained, among other things, a wine contest pitting thousands of wines from all over the world against each other. A Livermore Valley blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon from Cresta Blanca Winery captured the prize as the best white wine in the world.
“Lineage is imbued with the elegance, complexity, and age-worthiness that the best of these wines showcase,” is how this single wine handcrafted from the classic Bordeaux varieties is described by winemaker, Steven Kent Mirassou, sixth generation of America’s oldest winemaking family.
The Livermore Valley is fewer than 40 miles from San Francisco Bay. And as the temperatures change east of the Altamont Pass, cool air from the Bay is vacuumed through Livermore Valley where it helps to create an ideal environment of daytime and nighttime temperature differentials – that lead to ripe fruit with plentiful acidity. Livermore is cooler than everything north of Rutherford, and its “Valley” is about 500 feet higher above sea level than Napa’s. Add relative temperature, elevation changes, myriad microclimates and soil types, 165 years of winemaking, and you get a world-class growing region that rivals any in the world for Bordeaux varieties.
Mirassou came to learn all of this and worked since the founding of The Steven Kent Winery to prove it. In the intervening years, there were a lot of positive words written about the Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignons coming out of Livermore. In 2007, Mirassou decided that he wanted to tie himself to a legacy that would explode the envelope. With the amazing quality of all the Bordeaux varieties from the 2007 vintage, Mirassou felt that the time was right to create a singular blended wine that could rival the finest wines of its type in the world. The Lineage Wine Company (named for the long history of the Mirassou family and the Livermore Valley in California winemaking) was the vehicle by which this wine and story were to be communicated. Ten years later, he has made tremendous progress.
2016 Lineage marks the 10th Anniversary of this extraordinary wine. Each of these wines is a chapter in the winemaking book that Mirassou hopes has no end. His son, Aidan Mirassou, seventh-generation winemaker, has taken over assistant winemaking duties and is committed to continue moving the boundaries of quality for the wine.
MORE ABOUT STEVEN KENT MIRASSOU
Steven Mirassou comes from the oldest winemaking family in America. He grew up around the family winery in San Jose, working scut jobs traditionally taken on by young family members. At 18, Mirassou left home and ventured to the East Coast to go to college and graduate school proclaiming when he left that “he would never get into the family business.” Ten years later Mirassou did make his way back to California, creating The Steven Kent Winery brand with his father – the pair share the same first and middle names and couldn’t use the Mirassou name for legal reasons – and then went on to start the Lineage Wine Company in 2007. The Lineage brand was launched as a challenge to the wine world, reshaping the picture people from all over the world had of the world-class potential of the Livermore Valley wines.
ABOUT NANCY CASTRO, BRAND MANAGER LINEAGE WINE AND WINE SCHOLAR
No matter the quality of wine one makes, if there is no mechanism to educate people about it, it does not truly exist. Nancy Castro, a long-time veteran of the wine hospitality business in Arizona, Napa, Sonoma, and now Livermore Valley, has joined The Lineage Wine Company as the Lineage Brand Manager. She will be instrumental in designing the soon-to-open Lineage Tasting Salon and creating high-end experiences that highlight the unique quality of Lineage, the wine, as well as opening a window on the winemaking philosophy that shapes that wine.
Robert Mondavi was a consultant for the fifth generation of the Mirassou family back in the mid-1960s. He continually emphasized the idea that the quality of the wine in the bottle told only a small part of the story of any given bottle. The way the wine contributed to everyday enjoyment, the way the wine added richness and joy to a wine lover’s life, is a lesson that the sixth and seventh-generation of the family is taking to heart. With the opening of the Lineage Tasting Salon in Fall 2019, members will have the opportunity to taste older vintages of Lineage, contribute to new blends of the wine, and join in on members-only wine, food, and travel experiences unlike any seen in the Livermore Valley.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
5443 Tesla Road
Livermore, California, 94550
Article By: Eve Bushman & Nancy Castro