LIVE IN CA. FREE SHIPPING ON ALL WINES.

Meet the Makers

Creating Canbernet: The Sutro Story

Meet Alice Sutro, a free thinker, free spirit, and freehand artist, who also produces award-winning wines.

Share

Finding Alice Warnecke Sutro

Alice Warnecke Sutro was our dream wine partner. An incredible winemaker, living in the holy quadrant of wine regions, with a cool, artsy vibe we just couldn’t shake. 

Kendra and I met Alice when we were traveling around California interviewing winemakers in 2018 to learn about the industry. We honestly never considered a collab because she was…kind of a big deal. She made premium, celebrated, single-vineyard Alexander Valley red wines with killer reviews from big deal wine critics. And to my knowledge, a wine like that had never been canned. 

From then on, “Artsy Alice” became our internal persona for the type of winemaker we wanted to partner with — an independent owner, passionate, with a story to tell and a point of view. 

Cut to a year later on a visit to her home at Warnecke Ranch and Vineyard, the 100-year-old family-owned and operated estate along the Russian River, and we were hatching up a crazy scheme to put her award-winning cabernet sauvignon in a can. 

Because that’s just what happens when you manifest your own destiny.

An artist with roots from Beaujolais to Boonville

Alice is a 5th-gen San Franciscan, but she hasn’t always been Bay Area-based. As a kid, she moved to Boonville to live on an apple orchard, and spent 8 formative years in the French Alps before finding her way home to California to pursue art history and studio art at Stanford. 

While she experimented with mediums from oil painting to sculpture, she found herself drawn to, well, drawing. Today, in addition to making wines she draws “fast portraits” — 15 to 30-minute in-person sketches. “Drawing people is a whole special dynamic, being in the flesh with somebody, you can feel their energy to really connect and capture their essence.” 

And it’s this same desire to connect with people that drew her back home — and back to wine. 

Alice Sutro, artist, with "fast portraits."
Alice Sutro with “fast portraits” of friends and fam. Image: alicesutro.com

Bringing Winemaking to Warnecke Ranch

Living in California, Alice felt the pull to come back to Warnecke Ranch — a storied property at the intersection of four separate, award-winning AVAs (American Viticultural Areas): Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, Russian River Valley, and Sonoma Coast. While Alexander Valley is known for being warmer, the influences of these neighboring coastal regions give them a cooler climate and longer ripening periods, creating optimal growing conditions for cabernet.  

While continuing her art practice, she worked for six years as an assistant vineyard manager under her aunt Margo. And in 2012, a year with excess fruit, Alice and her husband Eliot decided to take the plunge to become the first of her family to produce wines from Warnecke Ranch, bottling their first vintage in 2015. 

When people drink Sutro, Alice wants them to “visualize where the grapes were grown.” Her minimal intervention approach to winemaking combined with restrained use of new oak, allows the quality of the grapes to shine through in the glass.

Warnecke Ranch and Vineyard, photo by Kelly Anne Jones.
Alice takes each of her visitors on a nature walk of the property before tasting.
Image: Kelly Anne Jones.
Alice Sutro leads a nature walk with the Maker team at Warnecke Ranch.
This spot overlooks the bend in the Russian River caused by volcanic activity over 5 million years ago (!), and just so happens to be where Alice got married.

Cab in a Can

“I created this cab-focused blend for Maker to highlight our amazing terroir, and emphasize that the cab I make can drink now, as well as cellar,” says Alice. 

Wait. But aren’t great cabs aged? How does that work with a can? Fair questions. This is the 2017 vintage, which means the wine has been barrel and bottle-aged for over two years before ending up in your can. The wine is not “dumbed down” for the can either. It’s the same quality as the award-winning wine you’ll see in the bottle — elegant with an explosion of concentrated fruit, dark berry aromas, and chocolate undertones. She’s a big ‘ol gal that drinks best when poured in a glass with time to breathe. As Alice says, it “pairs well with what you can’t buy in stores like roast pig and wild duck,” and is meant for gathering with friends and family over home-cooked meals. 

The big, bold, and beautiful 2017 cabernet sauvignon.
Photo: Hillary Jeanne Photography
Alice Sutro canning premium cabernet with Maker and her two children.
Alice with her two kids on a socially distanced canning day in April, 2020.

Another first for Maker: we collaborated with the wine producer herself to create the label. We started with dozens of her drawings, exploring portraits and landscapes before finally landing on the hand. “I’m proud of the label design we worked up. It reflects who I am as an artist and how I like to run my brand — pushing boundaries, trying new things, collaborating, and experimenting.”

Alice collaborated with our graphic designer Olivia Herrick to create the can label. We started with strong, simple sketches on blank labels.
Olivia added her touch of color and created patterns from Alice’s drawings.
The canned cabernet label, a collaboration between wine producer Alice Sutro and graphic designer Olivia Herrick.
The final canned cabernet label, pairing fine wine and intentional lines.

Doing things her way has paid off — Alice has picked up praise from publications like Wine Enthusiast, Vinography, and the SF Chronicle. She now sits on the Alexander Valley winegrowers board and is the owner/operator of Sutro Wine Co., in addition to raising her two children with her husband Eliot. 

Alice and her family among the vines at Warnecke Ranch and Vineyard.
Maker 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

Try the wine

The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is currently available to Can Club members.

Related articles

Meet the Makers

Winery Spotlight: Campovida Wines

Colleen Sullivan pouring a sample at Revolution Wines in Sacramento

Meet the Makers

Winery Spotlight: Revolution Wines

Chris Christensen of Bodkin Wines Blends a Rose Wine

Meet the Makers

Maker Spotlight: Chris Christensen