Barb Spelletich, despite her 20 years working in the wine industry, continues to take classes at UC Davis, and attending lectures and workshops. “Nobody knows it all,” she declares, “even the professors. I find it invigorating.”
Barb was born and raised in Seattle. She worked for Ste. Michelle Winery and G. Raden & Sons, and then established her own distributorship, Zephyr Imports. This began her international travels and relationships with the finest wineries in the world.
Barb arrived in Napa Valley in ‘92 and started working for St. Clement Vineyards. Two years later, she and Timothy formed Spelletich Cellars.
Barb Spelletich is a confident, accomplished winemaker, who makes fine wine, and is described by daughter Kristen as “such a wonderful blender”
“I have a new level of understanding, but I want to stay true to the varietal. But it still starts in the vineyard because that’s the beginning. That might seem obvious, but I just know.”
On blending Barb explains: “It’s my sensitivity. When I do blends I taste individual barrels and I cannot be disturbed. Then I do a composite blend. I usually come up with many blends on my Cabernet Sauvignon. Making wine is the same as cooking. You are looking for balance, nuances; and I predominantly focus on smells and flavors. My focus is fruit. The wine must smell and taste like the fruit from which it has been made. Wood and age add nuances. “I’m careful. I don’t always respect protocol from year to year because mother nature gives us different fruit every year.”
No, Barb Spelletich doesn’t make wine necessarily in an ordinary way. It is her philosophy to hold back some of her wine. When others in California have taken to releasing their red wines in two to three years after harvest, Barb will not allow some of her wines to reach market for five years; in the manner of some of the finer French producers.
She has also been known to not put some of her reds through the standard practice of utilizing malolactic fermentation (ML). It is something that is nearly unheard of – some would say crazy, or brave – these days. Barb says about that: “By keeping the original malic acid present, it supports the alcohol in a way that you don't smell it or taste it.” Further she explains, “(ML) is a 'deacidification', not a (secondary) fermentation. I see the manipulation (done to wine). Wines are so 'concocted'. Let's pay attention to wine and how it tastes, naturally.
“I'm a good winemaker because I don't do the same thing to it every vintage. I don't care what other people are doing. It gets me beyond the box."Back to the About Page