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Silkwood Wines: In the shadow of winery giants
John and Judie Monnich, owners of Modestos Silkwood Wines, pride their wine on the individual attention and craftsmanship given to each bottle.

MODESTO - In California, when one thinks of the production of wine, the first place that comes to mind is the Napa Valley. However, 80 miles from the illustrious wine mecca of Napa, located in the heart of the Central Valley is the city of Modesto. For those familiar with the area, Modesto is host to Gallo Winery, one of the largest winemakers in the world and also one of the city’s largest employers. However, in the shadow of the grandeur of Gallo is the small wine company Silkwood, that produces rich, mature and award winning wines that both residents of the Central Valley and viticulture connoisseurs can agree upon.

Silkwood Wines is owned by winemakers John and Judie Monnich, who pride their wine on the individual attention and craftsmanship given to each bottle. In contrast to larger producers, Silkwood only distributes 10,000 cases a year, qualifying them as a boutique wine.

The Monnichs, who have been producing wine for the last 30 years, said that it is difficult to compare their wine with larger companies.

“It’s hard to compare to the bigger wine companies,” said Judie Monnich. “They make good wine, ours is just different.”

Personal involvement in the production makes Silkwood wine unique, she said.

“My husband is very hands on. He manages, hand sorts, and oversees all the production of the grapes,” said Judie Monnich.

The secret behind the mature taste of Silkwood’s wine is a process called “hang time,” which is ideal in the Central Valley microclimate. By allowing the grapes to mature to its maximum “hang time,” the sugars and flavors reach their optimal levels. The grapes are then hand crushed and sorted at vineyards in Lodi.

“We take the time required to naturally produce fine wine,” said Judie Monnich. “If we didn’t, maybe we couldn’t sell it, and we’d have to drink it all ourselves!”

Monnich hopes that her wine will change the misconception that the Valley cannot be a prime wine producer.

“The idea the Central Valley isn’t a wine producer is just wrong,” said Monnich. “We want to change that perception.”

Although the initial company began in 1979, it has opened and closed twice since then. The third time was a decade ago, right here in the Valley and the company hasn’t left since.

For both John and Judie, the reactions to those who are unfamiliar with the Central Valley as a wine producer still comes as a surprise.

“We still get mouth jaw drops when we tell people we’re from Modesto. Especially in the Bay Area where everyone largely drinks wine produced in the Napa Valley,” said Judie Monnich.

Currently, Silkwood Wines produces an assortment of wines including Syrah, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Alicante Bouschet, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Silkwood distributes to 21 states and two international countries including Japan and Hong Kong

For more information regarding .Silkwood Wines visit,


209 Staff reporter