California Wine- Teira and Backstory

This Thursday we will taste California wine from two producers including Teira Wines of Dry Creek Valley and Backstory of California. Teira is an artisanal, family-owned producer featuring small-production Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Merlot. We will sample all three. Backstory is a newly-available, value-driven custom crush project that is a potential Spirits “House Wine.” We will try their four varietials, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; this “audition” will help us decide if they have a place in our “value wine” selection.

Teira Wines, founded in 2002, is family-owned and operated by husband and wife team Dan and Alexis Donahoe. The winery is named after their daughters, Thea and Keira. They are a small, high-quality, award-winning producer located in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. They grow Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot on the Western side of Dry Creek Valley, near Healdsburg. Working with growers throughout Sonoma County, they also source fruit from the best sub-appellations of the county.

Dan and Alexis’ roots in the wine business go very deep. Dan’s passion for wine was sparked by Julia Child, his Grandmother’s best friend.  He began his career as a cellar worker for Cakebread Cellars during the crush of 1992 and has been in the wine business ever since. Alexis’ family has been growing grapes in Sonoma County since 1974, when her father Frank Woods founded Clos du Bois Winery. Some of the vineyards used by Teira today were part of the original Clos du Bois property.

Dan and Alexis collaborate with legendary Sonoma County vineyard manager Duff Bevill. Duff also farms for notable producers such as Merry Edwards and Dry Creek Vineyard. Practicing sustainable and organic vineyard management, Alexis, Dan and Duff farm over 100 acres of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Zinfandel in Dry Creek Valley. Teira’s consulting winemaker, Bill Knuttel, is responsible for the numerous awards and accolades that Teira wines have received over a decade of releases. Bill was the founding winemaker at Saintsbury Winery, followed by Chalk Hill Winery and is now Executive Winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyard.

Teira Sauvignon Blanc 2011– Dry Creek Valley, California. Sustainably and organically farmed, estate grown at the original Clos du Bois Vineyards. 100% Sauvignon Blanc that fermented and aged in stainless steel. Its pleasant nose offers Sancerre-like suggestions of mineral and lemon zest with hints of gooseberry and lime. On the palate it is bright and refreshing with juicy, fresh acidity and flavors of citrus complemented with attractive floral undertones. The finish is lively and gentle. Tasting $11.99

Teira Zinfandel 2009– Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys, Sonoma County, California. 100% Zinfandel that aged in American oak barrel, 25% new and 75% neutral. Sweet, appealing aromas of ripe strawberry and cherry mingle with oak, vanilla, and spice. The palate is viscous and textured with suggestions of tobacco and sweet berry fruits within a mouthcoating framework. The flavors are nicely integrated, and the palate is not overwhelming, but well-balanced and very elegant. Tasting $14.99

Teira Merlot 2010– Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys, Sonoma County, California. Merlot blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Pretty deep garnet color with a very attractive bouquet that is robust, rich and aromatic suggesting vanilla/spice, oak, and dark chocolate. It is textured, juicy, and balanced on the fruit-forward palate. Big, firm tannin combines with oak and tobacco notes to create a complex, lingering finish. An excellent value. Tasting $14.99

Two years ago Matt visited Teira and stayed with Dan and Alexis. Below is their back patio and view of the vineyards! Wouldn’t that be the perfect place to drink your morning coffee everyday?


Backstory was created by Aaron Horton of Crafted Brands (boutique wine and spirits supplier) and Jeff O’Neill, co-owner of Xtant Wines. The wines are made from fruit that’s sourced from premium vineyards throughout California; from the Central Coast, Sonoma, Lodi, and other AVA’s. It is made at the O’Neill Winery in Fresno, California.

The Backstory line-up has the potential to join our “House Wines,” so we hope you will help us decide if they have a place among the Spirits “value wine” selection. The House Wine price would be $8.99/bottle and $7.00/bottle by the case, so this is how they will be priced for this week’s tasting.

Backstory Sauvignon Blanc 2010– California. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. Light and inviting scents suggest citrus fruits of grapefruit and lime. Stony undertones and tangy fruit flavors combine with bright acidity to create a light and easy-drinking white that is summed-up with a juicy, fruit-filled finish. 1,500 cases produced.

Backstory Chardonnay 2010– California. Fermented in stainless steel with partial malolactic fermentation, then aged in neutral French oak for 10 months. On the nose, faint notes of butter and cream are complemented with aromas of apple, peach and pear. The palate is nicely textured, especially considering the price, followed by a very tasty, lemon-y finish. 3,000 cases produced.

Backstory Merlot 2010– California (including Lodi and the Sacremento Delta). Fermented in stainless steel, then aged in neutral French oak for 12 months. Ruby red in color with an attractive bouquet of briary dark fruits, cherry, spice, wood and smoke. The palate is dry, mild and approachable with fresh berry fruit flavors and hints of oak and spice on the gentle finish. 1,500 cases produced.

Backstory Cabernet Sauvignon 2010– California (including Lodi and the Sacremento Delta). Fermented in stainless steel then aged in mostly neutral French oak for 12 months. It is darker (than the Merlot) garnet red in color with robust aromas of dark fruits such as plum, black cherry and blackberry, with sweet undertones and violet/floral hints. It is richly textured on the palate with a soft, berry-filled finish. 3,000 cases produced.

teira sauvignon blanc teira bottle image Backstory-Logo-2

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