Pictured Above: The three Steves are (L to R) : Steve Melander, Steve Burman and Steve Zigante
By Laura Ness
How did three guys named Steve come together? Well, they were all investors in a boondoggle of a Livermore winery venture from which they are still trying to extricate themselves. Meanwhile, they’re making great wine and racking up the awards, including Best of Show in the recent TVC Uncorked Competition for their 2012 Ghielmetti Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. It’s well deserved.
The most talkative of the three Steves, Steve Burman, downplays the significance of awards. Says Burman, “We don’t want to get too caught up in all the award stuff. We want to be three guys, making wines worth more than our price point, having fun, but taken seriously. We are very fortunate. We are just students of the art, never claiming to have it all figured out. If we stay grounded, sell a good value wine, and realize people want an enjoyable time when they visit us; we think we will do okay. We may never be rich with money, but we will be rich beyond imagination by doing what we love.” Bravo on that. Quite the mission statement, coming from a former firefighter and Silicon Valley executive turned winemaker and tasting room guy.
The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Ghielmetti Vineyard is truly the bomb: beckoning aromas of grapefruit, pineapple and lime lead to flavors of gooseberry, pineapple guava, candied apple, smoky orange peel and melon. Done in stainless, this wine is fresh, clean and possesses great depth. They also have two promising Chardonnays in barrel: one a short timer in oak, the other basking in oak a bit longer. Like a greedy sunbather on a white sand beach, its rich flavors of apple bread pudding emphasize its love affair with soaking up extra toast. A true beach babe!
One of their more interesting reds is the non-vintage 3 Reds (Cab, Petit Verdot and Merlot), which they bottled specifically for a woman they met on the internet. Not what you think: she rented Steve B’s property, called “Wine & The Sea,” on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and was intrigued by the wines, which he leaves in the wine cabinet for guests to try. It turns out that she and a group of her sister throat cancer survivor friends, like to go on yearly outings and discover new things that really excite their remaining tastebuds. He sent her three blend samples to try, and she chose this one. It’s pretty tasty. It woke up my tastebuds, for sure.
The Crane Ridge 2008 Reserve Cabernet from the vineyard owned by the person with whom they originally partnered, is a big, buxom blackberry, tobacco, cassis, ganache-frosted chocolate cake and incense-filled beauty, flowing with toasted pecans tinged with Worcestershire. Their De Rose Vineyard-sourced Cabernet Franc is a thing of lithe, red-lipped staining beauty, and their old vine Zin from the same San Benito county source, rages against the machine with classic red brick-colored purity, delivering a tsunami of ripe strawberries and red plums looking to crash on a beach of crushed Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil sausage pizza.
When asked what the most surprising thing is about having a tasting room, all three Steves have a story. Burman points out the rather forward – and to him – almost shocking behavior exhibited by some female visitors. He says simply, “I’m glad I don’t have a daughter.”
Steve Zigante admits he’s constantly surprised at the exhaustion of being in the hospitality business. They open at noon, and close around 11 p.m. Although he loves the job, it’s punishing, grueling and hard to recover from physically. After all, he’s driving the effort to take over the Red Feather facility on Greenville Road in Livermore, where they hope to open by May 1, 2013.
The third Steve just nods: he’s the silent partner. And then he smiles. And when he does, it’s even better than winning a medal or getting a great Yelp review, of which they’ve had plenty. They’ve finally turned the corner on making their collective hobby a viable enterprise, or in 3 Steve’s parlance, a terrific triple play.
For more information and to purchase their wines visit 3steveswinery.com. To schedule a private tour and tasting, email email@example.com. To taste 3 Steves wines, visit swirl on the square in Livermore Friday through Sunday. (www.swirlonthesq.com)