A Wine Lover’s Guide to Blue Cellars Winery

Nothing makes a wine tasting party complete like information on the wineries featured. At your next party, consider providing the history of a winery as you pour wine into the glasses of your guests. This article looks at featuring the wines of Blue Cellars at your next wine tasting or dinner party.High Technology And Winemaking?What do high technology and winemaking have in common? Absolutely nothing. For that exact reason, Jim Fenstermacker has worked at both careers full time for almost two decades and what draws him to the two activities is that they are diametrically opposed.In 2002, Jim joined with Jeff Brock to start Blue Cellars. The winery and tasting room is located on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. Jim’s last technology job was Director of Operations for the software company, Autodesk, and he informed the company at the onset of his employment that he owned a winery and would be gone for three weeks in the fall during crush. It was a great relationship, although he left the company to devote his time to Blue Cellars.Running The WineryJim’s tasks around the winery are various and he enjoys all of them, especially getting out into the vineyards, making the wine, and even doing maintenance. The first time he invited his Autodesk team to visit the winery, they were shocked when he hopped on the forklift. Jim had been driving a forklift for years and never even thought about it being unusual.Customers FirstBlue Cellars stays very customer oriented. They make customers, distributors, and wine clubs a priority, including what they can do to make them happy and how they can make the best wine possible at the best price. The partners aren’t interested in making a gazillion dollars to buy a $16 million vineyard in Napa and move up there. If Jim were interested in that, he would use the money he makes from high tech, not from wine. That allows Blue Cellars to shed all that extraneous interest and focus on the wine.Buying LandInitially, the partners expected to buy land and develop a vineyard, making a bid on a 40-acre property in Paso Robles. When they were unable to finalize the deal, they rethought their business model and decided to continue buying grapes from growers instead of growing their own fruit. They didn’t want to be locked into making a limited number of wines from the fruit that could be suitably grown on a particular property.From a creative standpoint, they would have been fenced in. Instead, they chose to buy fruit, make a variety of different handcrafted, high-end wines and focus on the quality of those wines rather than on the viticulture. In some cases, they have long-term contracts and full control over how the grapes are grown and managed. In other cases, the quality of the fruit is sufficiently high that such control is unnecessary.The winery stays right around 1,400 cases per year and never goes beyond 500 cases per varietal with 100% varietal wines, no blending whatsoever, and single vineyard designated wines only. They don’t mix vineyards, which makes them a favorite of wine clubs and wine connoisseurs.Winning AwardsThe partners submit their wines to the best competitions in the country, especially the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the Dallas Wine Competition, the top shows in the United States. Their first year, Blue Cellars won a gold medal at San Francisco International for their 2003 Napa Truchard Vineyard Syrah, 93 points from Wine & Spirits Magazine, and 91 from Wine Spectator.Regardless of the wine you serve, consider enhancing the experience of your guests by offering information on the wineries you feature.