Bart Hansen began his career in the wine industry as a crush worker during harvest time at Kenwood Vineyards. While at Kenwood Vineyards, Hansen worked his way up to Cellar Master; after working there for fourteen years, he took the position as Assistant Winemaker at Benziger Family Winery. It was there that Hansen helped make wine for the Benziger Family Winery label, as well as the Benziger family's smaller label—Imagery Winery—which produces limited production, lesser known varietals. In 2007, Hansen left the Benziger family and went back to his roots as Cellar Master for Lasseter Family Winery, so that he could channel his winemaking energy into producing his own varietals for his own winery—Dane Cellars.
After twenty-one years in the wine industry, Hansen founded Dane Cellars in 2007 and sold the first Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel vintages in 2008, with fruit sourced from local Sonoma Valley vineyards. Now, seven years later, Hansen is producing four varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Chenin Blanc. There are two Zinfandels, each made with fruit sourced from their own vineyard; one of these vineyards produces fruit from 60-80 year old vines. All of the fruit is sourced from vineyards in the Sonoma Valley AVA, except for the Chenin Blanc—which is sourced from vineyards in the Clarksburg AVA in Yolo County.
For the past seven years, Dane Cellars has not had a tasting room and the wine has only been sold at local restaurants—by the glass and bottle—markets, and wine shops, as well as online through the Dane Cellars website. This keeps the small production wine—each varietal produces less than 200 cases annually—very exclusive. As a result, the wine has become highly sought after.
The Wine Club
To make Dane Cellars wine more accessible, Hansen has decided to start a wine club, which will allow consumers to enjoy Dane Cellars wine with greater ease. "This wine club is all going to be about the wine," says Hansen. The wine will still be produced at less than 200 cases annually—keeping its exclusivity intact—but those that want to enjoy more Dane Cellars wine will have the ability to do so more conveniently by becoming a wine club member.
Members of the Dane Cellars wine club will get to choose two, four, six, or twelve bottle packages to be delivered or picked up three times a year. The wine club will be offered at a reduced bottle rate cost and members will have the option to purchase additional wine at a discounted price as well. In addition to receiving exclusive, small production wine, wine club members will be invited to wine club member events throughout the year.
The First Wine Club Shipment
The first shipment will coincide with harvest time in October and feature the 2012 Reamer Farms Dry Chenin Blanc and the 2009 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel. Both of these wines are complex and flavorful. The 2012 Chenin Blanc—made with grapes sourced from the Clarksburg AVA in Yolo County—possesses aromas of subtle pineapple, while the palate exhibits beautiful honey, Meyer lemon, and gentle grapefruit flavors. The texture of this lovely wine is silky on the front of the palate—likely a result of the neutral French barrel aging—and finishes with crisp acidity, nice minerality, and notes of lime. At only 125 cases produced annually, this Chenin Blanc will be a rare treat for wine club members.
The 2009 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel is made from 100% Zinfandel fruit; the vines are thirty years old and grown at 800 feet elevation. Once bottled, the wine is barrel aged for 15 months in 40% new French oak. On the nose, this Zinfandel smells of anise and licorice. On the palate, dark notes of black cherry, blackberry, and blueberry abound. There are also touches of herbaceousness and spice, which complement the round, full body and silky texture of the wine. On the finish, the wine is dry and long; subtle cocoa and dark chocolate linger on the tongue. Only 125 cases of this fantastic Zinfandel were produced and wine club members will get to enjoy what is left of this excellent vintage.
Wine Club Member Benefits
Since wine club members will receive a discounted rate for additional wine purchases, they may want to look into purchasing prior vintages of Dane Cellars wine that will not be included in the first shipment, but is still available: the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2008 and 2009 vintages of the Old Vine Zinfandel, the 2009 Syrah, and the 2010 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel.
The 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel has a silky body with great tannins and exhibits notes of dark black cherry, blackberry, and mild bell pepper. As the wine opens up, the fruit flavors become livelier and subtle touches of oak grace the palate. The 2010 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel is reminiscent of the 2009 vintage with its herbaceous nose, but the fruit is brighter and more pronounced—flavors of boysenberry, dark raspberry, and blueberry enliven the palate alongside nice gripping tannins. The 2009 Syrah is made from 95% Syrah grapes and 5% Mouvedre grapes and barrel aged for 15 months in 40% new French oak. This Syrah is heavier than the Zinfandels, as one would expect, and possess flavors of cocoa, blueberry, dark red cherry, smoke, and sweet oak.
Judging the by the ageability of the 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel—one of the the oldest vintages—it is safe to say that Dane Cellars wine ages well and that these older vintages are well worth their cost, especially at the discounted rate for wine club members.
Those who are interested in signing up for the wine club should sign up for the Dane Cellars mailing list (on the bottom of the website home page) to receive more information, or contact Bart Hansen directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.