A year ago, I had never heard of Stefania wines. Fellow blogger, Mark Jahnke, who writes the entertaining and informative Jersey Foodies blog, along with his lovely wife, Pam (link is in the column on the right)would post glowingly on the wines whenever he opened them. After reading several of these rave reviews I signed up on the mailing list. Stefania wines are not available in the local wine shops and can be purchased only thru the mailing list, which is currently filled, but has a waiting list.

Paul Romero is shown answering questions from a couple of male wine-lovers while Stefania does the same for two interested female guests.  The Romero’s, who make both their home and their wine in San Jose, California, are both passionate about their craft. As with any daring venture, becoming successful winemakers involves overcoming a great deal of obstacles, and both Paul and Stef enjoy telling the stories that brought them to where they are today. From those first 50 vines planted next their hot tub (Haut Tubee to Stefania fans), they now have an array of wines that are priced well below wines of comparable quality. I had tried most of their varietals prior to last evening but this was my first time sampling their very tasty Pinot Noir with it’s nose of garden flowers and sweet cherry cola. Get on that waiting list!!!

In addition to the great Stefania wines, all of the guests brought a bottle from home and later in the evening, Mark generously opened some fantastic wines from his own collection. I was thrilled to once again try the 2005 Lillian, Whitehawk Vineyard, Syrah and this was followed by a 2007 Sine Qua Non, “The Raven”. So many wines that it was hard to keep track of them but I do know we started in the late afternoon with one of Mark’s magnums of 2006 Sea Smoke, Chardonnay and later I had a small glass of the wine I brought with me, a 2006 Kongsgaard, Chardonnay. Both of these whites were crisp and delicious but none could ever replace a really good red wine. I know there was a 2007 Lafond, Pinot Noir and that my last wine of the evening was a 2005 Andrew Murray, Oak Savannah Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, Syrah.

Was there any food you ask? I’ll just say that anyone who left Mark and Pam’s charming backyard bistro hungry has no one to blame but themselves. There was a veritable orgy of food available including some the tastiest sliders with beef from Flannery’s, I believe. A terrific brisket prepared in Mark’s new smoker and rubbed with Pam’s super-secret seasonings, barbecued chicken and plate after plate of side dishes to go with the meats.

As with any party of 40 people it’s difficult to meet everyone but in addition to the guests of honor, Paul and Stefania Romero, I enjoyed having the opportunity to meet another dynamic duo of food bloggers, John and Lisa Howard-Fusco who do a fantastic job on their very popular “Eating in South Jersey.”

John and Lisa put a lot of effort into their blog and have some great interviews with chefs (i.e. Paula Dean, Ted Allen), restaurant owners and others involved in fresh food and produce throughout the area. There is always something new on their site and it’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the Jersey food world from the seashore to the city. It’s obviously a labor of love and I totally enjoyed having the opportunity to spend some time with both of them in a great setting.

One other couple that deserves mention, simply because they were charming, would be Tom and Denise DeBiase. These Central Jersey wine-lovers will be out in Sonoma next month at the same time as my wife and I and two other couples who will be joining us. It would be nice to meet up at some point with Tom and Denise whose son is out in California pursuing his dream of becoming the next Paul and Stefania. From what I hear, he is off to a good start.

Paul and Stefania’s east coast trip took them to Washington DC on Thursday and Friday and they will be in New York City tomorrow. They had a great dinner the other night on the banks of the Potomac and I’m certain NYC will provide another super backdrop. Last night’s garden party, hosted by Mark and Pam, was a first-class affair and hopefully will provide the Romero’s with fond memories of the new fans they have made for themselves and their wines when they return to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Thank you, Mark, for the invite.


  1. sounds like a wonderful evening of wine, good food and lots of interesting people. can’t wait to hear the stories. c.

  2. Let me say that it was an absolute honor to have South Jersey Wine & Dine join us for an event at our home, and talk about the right event to attend. This was by far the party of the summer for us! An incredible evening with great food, amazing wines, and the best company we could ever ask for. Huge kudos to Zelda for adding her little touch of love to everything! She did such a great job in planning this event! Huge thanks also to Paul and Stef for taking the time to come to NJ and visit with us, and also to send a case and a half of their wines for us to drink as well. We’re grateful and humbled! Everyone seemed to have a great time, and that is what was important! The “Backyard Bistro” definitely had a great buzz on this evening!

    The afternoon did indeed start with the 2006 Sea Smoke Chardonnay from a magnum. This was a great wine in my opinion, and my favorite vintage of their chardonnay thus far. I have to say that the ’05 Lillian was once again a tasty crowd pleaser, and I love what Maggie is doing with those Whitehawk Grapes! The ’07 Sine Qua Non was once again a pleasure as well! For the other whites, the Kongsgaard you brought was absolutely delicious! I almost wish we would have tasted this right after the Sea Smoke for comparison sake, but it was truly an elegant wine. The other white worth mentioning was the 2007 DuMOL Chardonnay Isobel that Tom and Denise brought! This too was absolutely amazing! I’ll cut and paste the rest of the list of carnage at the bottom!

    The beef for the sliders was indeed by Bryan Flannery: http://www.bryansfinefoods.com/ I went with a blend that was 25% of each of the following: 25% Wagyu Chuck, 25% Wagyu Short Ribs, 25% Prime Sirloin, and 25% Rib Cap Fat Blend. This was by far the best burger blend I have ever had, and these were absolutely delicious and greasy perfection! Everything that I love in a burger and more, and they seemed to be real crowd pleasers. Thanks for the kudos on the briskets! I am my toughest critics, but in my opinion they were not my best. But even so, I have one of them wrapped in foil right now warming up on the charcoal grill here at work at a low temperature! =) Zelda’s BBQ chicken was delicious, and as always, here top secret BBQ sauce was to die for! I tell ya, I’ve been married to the woman for 4 years, and she still won’t let me be in the kitchen when she is making this sauce! I am actually a bit surprised I didn’t have to sign some of pre-nump with some clause about her BBQ sauce in there!

    As for Paul and Stef, they were some of the nicest folks “in the biz” that we have met to date. Absolutely amazing people, and they know what they are doing over there! Paul really has a knack for this “winemaking thing! 😉 It was great to taste through the lineup, and I think that some the ‘08’s just might be the best. All the ‘08’s were wonderfully elegant for being so young, and there is not one wine that I am not super excited for. As always, the Haut Tubee will be an amazing bargain, and the pinot to me was phenomenal!

    It was also great to finally meet John and Lisa! What a great bunch, and I look forward to meeting with them again soon. Tom and Denise are some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and it is always a pleasure getting together with them! Their son Tommy is going to do fabulous things with pinot noir grapes I think, even though Tom doesn’t talk a lot about it! He has had a great mentor over the years in John Holdredge, and I think it is just a matter of time before his wines explode into something amazing. I was actually really hoping that Tom was going to bring a bottle along. I am thinking that maybe we need to get this group together for Talula’s Table as we talked about! I’ll see when I need to call to get a Saturday reservation for next year, and we can round it out with whomever!

    Enough rambling, but it was great to meet you finally, and we are so glad that you could make it. Thanks so much for the kind words, and it was truly an honor to have you at the “Backyard Bistro.” It was an absolutely amazing evening! Cheers, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

  3. Frank, it was great to finally meet you. The people in Jersey are all gracious hosts, we enjoyed being doted on. Great food, great friends, great wines (SQN is always a favorite of mine). 😉

    cheers and thanks to everyone, Stef

    • Stef

      Thanks for those kind words. I’m glad we had the opportunity to get together and I look forward to the Fall mailer.

      Have a safe trip home!


    • Stefania: the SQN was a pleasure! There is nothing better than sharing good wines with great friends who appreciate them! It’s good to know for next time you and Paul come to town! As much as I hate to admit it, I think that right now, or as of Saturday night, the Lillian showed better than the Sine Qua Non. Had the Sine Qua Non been decaned for a few hours, I don’t think that would have been the case. Even so, both wines were delicious in my opinion, and we’re so glad you enjoyed them! Cheers!

  4. I forgot to post the rest of the wines from the evening, so here they are. At least these were the empities that I picked up around the yard and put into the recycling bin yesterday:

    The wines:
    2005 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch
    2006 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch
    2006 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Uvas Creek
    2006 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains
    2007 Stefania Haut Tubee
    2007 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch
    2007 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Uvas Creek x 2
    2007 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountain x 2
    2008 Stefania Haut Tubee
    2008 Stefania Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch
    2008 Stefania Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains x 2
    2009 Stefania Chardonnay Chaine d’Or
    2006 Sea Smoke Chardonnay Magnum
    2005 Andrew Murray Syrah Oak Savanna Vineyard
    2005 Lillian Winery Syrah
    2006 Sine Qua Non Syrah Raven Series
    2006 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon
    2007 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon
    2007 Tobin James Lagrein Silver Reserve
    2004 Vigna Vecchia Chianti Classico
    2005 Duca di Saragnano Chianti Riserva
    2007 Domaine de la Buissonne Côtes du Rhône Villages Beaumes-de-Venise
    2007 Donna Laura Ali Toscana IGT
    2007 Thompson Street Pinot Noir “Posse”
    2006 Pure Love Wines Shiraz Layer Cake
    2007 Tobin James Primitivo James Gang Reserve
    2006 Stags’ Leap Winery Petite Sirah
    2006 Kongsgaard Chardonnay
    2006 Parallel Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
    2007 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon
    N.V. Alvear Pedro Ximénez Montilla-Moriles Solera 1927
    N.V. LaMarca Prosecco
    2007 DuMOL Chardonnay Isobel
    2006 Latium Morini Valpolicella Superiore Prognai
    2006 Rusina Syrah Monte Rosso
    2007 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling
    2005 Laetitia Late Harvest Riesling – Arroyo Grande Valley – Block Z
    2008 Lafond Pinot Noir Lafond Vineyard
    2008 Tolosa Winery Viognier Edna Ranch
    2009 Santa Marina Provincia di Pavia IGT White Table Pinot Grigio Magnum
    2006 Sanford Pinot Noir
    2007 Chappellet Napa Valley Chardonnay

    • Mark

      I had no idea there were that many different wines. I thought I had done a good job of trying most of them but now I feel like a slacker. At least, I was there for the Stefania’s, the Lillian and the Sine Qua Non!!

      Great meeting you and the Queen of the Secret Sauce.


      • LOL Frank! We may have opened up quite a few after you left. I think you had already left when I started popping the two Rivers-Marie cabernet, and at that point, I grabbed another 4 bottles for people inside. In all honesty, I figured we’d go through even more wine, and really surprised that we didn’t!

        This weekend we’ll be drinking some of NJ’s finest down at the Valenzano Festival! I have a feeling I’ll have a cooler in the car with a few bottles of wines that we bring that will be getting poured into their bottles so they think we are drinking their wine at the fest! Hee hee! 😉 Cheers!

  5. Frank – It was great to finally meet you in person. I have enjoyed reading your blog for some time, taking notes on places we need to try. Thank you so much for the kind words about our blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: