2020 Featured Wineries
2020 Tête du Cuvée
Donald Olson, M.D. of Torii Mor Winery
Torii Mor Winery
Torii Mor Winery started with a vision: the pursuit of elegant, Old World style Pinot Noirs. Dr. Donald Olson moved to Oregon to pursue this vision and purchased an older vineyard in the Willamette Valley, planted in 1972, and renamed it Olson Estate Vineyard. High in the Dundee Hills, the ten acres of old vines produce high-quality Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay year after year. After the first vintage in 1993 with just 1,000 cases, Torii Mor now produces 10,000 cases annually under the direction of Burgundian winemaker Jacques Tardy.
Donald Olson, M.D. Bio
Originally from Wisconsin, Dr. Donald Olson, made the quest to Oregon in the 1980’s to acquire prime vineyard property in the emerging wine region of the Willamette Valley. He purchased an existing vineyard and Japanese garden outside the town of Dundee and officially became a vineyard owner, selling fruit to local wineries. In 1993, he decided to produce his own wine and created Torii Mor Winery. The name derives from the “torii” gate in the property’s Japanese garden and the ancient Scandinavian word for “earth”….the perfect combination of Dr. Olson’s passion and heritage.
Michael Baldacci of Baldacci Family Vineyards
Baldacci Family Vineyards
Found in 1998, Tom and Brenda Baldacci were entranced by the beauty of the Napa Valley and the timeless heritage of the Stags’ Leap District. The generations before had left a deep and abiding affinity for the land from which came not only their livelihood, but their legacy. The Baldacci’s felt that they could transfer that way of life to yet another generation and share this picturesque property with others who seek a refuge from the hectic pace of everyday living. The winery focuses on estate grown wines with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon.
Michael Baldacci – President
Exceptional quality wine all begins with a passion. “My passion is one rooted in family,” Michael says, “a passion to produce honest wines that best embody my family’s love for great wine and the unique estate vineyards that Baldacci represents.”
Though he was born and raised in the Bay Area, Michael Baldacci spent many days as a young boy walking his family’s vineyards. Struck early on by the delicacy with which man and nature must work together to make beautiful wines, Michael returned to Napa Valley as an adult to become part of the team at Baldacci Family Vineyards. New to the business but a veteran of the land, Michael took on a managerial role at the winery after four years of undergraduate study in Los Angeles. He approached the business with the same goal his father had had nearly twelve years before: to make wines that represent the character of the land, the grapes, and the family’s traditions.
Michael can be found all around the winery, from the cellar to the tasting room, behind a desk or in the vineyards he first walked as a child. “The Stags Leap District is an iconic area of Napa,” he believes, “and our family’s wines strive to show each and every consumer why it is truly the best area in the world to grow world class Cabernet.” This desire to produce outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon wines has kept Michael in the vineyards and in the classroom. He continues to educate himself through UC Davis extension courses as well as to stay active in the industry as a board member of Next Generation and as a committee member with the Napa Valley Vintners. Michael tastes wine regularly in a variety of forums and participates in different winemaking trials that examine the effects of various harvest strategies, fermentation protocols and aging vessels. “Wine is so multi-faceted. The topics in viticulture and enology are always evolving and I participate frequently in tastings that continue to demonstrate the incredible balance between artistry and science.”
Jackie Deveny of Ballentine Vineyards
Andy Bartee of Barnett Vineyards
Barnett Vineyards’ first harvest was in 1989 and yielded 232 cases of Cabernet. The winery has expanded gradually since then, selecting outstanding vineyard sites for grapes in addition to those grown on the estate, and now produces approximately 8,000 total cases. Rattlesnake and Spring Mountain District wines, including Merlot and Cabernet Franc, remain the focus with total estate production varying between 5,000 and 6,000 cases annually. In addition, we produce limited amounts Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc sourced from single vineyards located in desired appellations.
Winemaking and viticulture practices at Barnett Vineyards are influenced by the artisan craft of creating wines by hand. Due to the estate’s low yielding vineyard, it is critical to hand-harvest the vineyard vine-by-vine to ensure each cluster is picked at optimal ripeness. This manual work is additionally challenging on a 35º slope that is not conducive to any normal farm equipment.
David Tate, Winemaker and General Manager
David has been the winemaker at Barnett Vineyards for twelve complete vintages, beginning with 2007. Prior to working with Barnett, David was the assistant winemaker at Ridge vineyards for five years atop Montebello in the Santa Cruz Mountains; his years with Ridge laid the groundwork for David’s commitment to quality and understanding of what it takes to produce premium, world-class wine with a sense of place.
In addition, David has worked in the Barossa Valley, Australia; Provence, France; Canterbury, New Zealand and has traveled to every fine wine region in the world. David graduated from Brock University in 2002, with an Honors Degree in Enology and Viticulture. David’s research work has been published and he is an advocate for wine education, helping to teach portions of the Wine and Spirits Education trust in his free time.
Ann and Jack Seifrick of Cast Wines
Tucked into the forest on a tranquil bench above our Grey Palm vineyard in beautiful Dry Creek Valley, Cast grows and produces wines in limited quantities highlighting the best grapes of Sonoma County. Cast makes estate Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, Bacigalupi Family Pinot Noir and Keefer Ranch Chardonnay, both from the Russian River Valley, and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Pyramid Vineyard in Alexander Valley. Our property’s spellbinding views and our seated tasting experience combine to offer an ideal setting for enjoying wines crafted by veteran winemaker Mike Gulyash. Annual production of approximately 3,500 cases began with the 2012 vintage.
Ann and Jack Seifrick, Founders
Founded in 2012 by Dallasites Ann & Jack Seifrick with the help of numerous Texas friends and family, Cast celebrates a love of wine and beautiful places. On a 2011 visit to Healdsburg during harvest, a wrong turn on a bike ride turned into a delightful talk with a local winery owner, setting off a series of intriguing thoughts along the lines of “maybe this is our path…” Within six months the Seifricks found an incredible vineyard, teamed up with veteran winemaker Mike Gulyash, and launched Cast. Now splitting time between Dallas and the winery, they enjoy sharing Cast with wine lovers near and far.
Adam Lee of Clarice Wine Company
Adam Lee is the founder of Clarice Wine Company. His career in wine began in 1989, working at a retail store in Austin, Texas. After promoting wines to local restaurants, he became a wine distributor sales rep, eventually becoming the Wine Buyer at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. In 1993, Lee moved to California and, along with Dianna Novy, started their own winery, Siduri Wines, focusing on Pinot Noir. Siduri Wines quickly became one of California’s premier Pinot Noir producers, growing from 107 cases in 1994 to 25,000 cases in 2015. In 2015, Adam sold Siduri Wines to Jackson Family Winery and after several years started his own winery named after his grandmother, Clarice Wine Company.
In a very short time, Clarice Wine Company has achieved remarkable acclaim, with fantastic press from wine writers and publications such as Jed Dunnuck, the Wine Advocate, Antonio Gallori’s Vinous, and many more. The wines are produced in tiny quantities and are all made, hands-on, by Adam.
Austin Pitzer of Cornell Vineyards
Biography Coming Soon!land on a former stagecoach route in Sonoma County. Located West of Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain district, it was apparent early settlers tended to vines there once upon a time. With respect for the land foremost in his mind, Henry purchased the rugged, untamed property and returned the rolling hillsides to vineyards.
For twenty years, Henry and his wife Vanessa have accepted the challenges of doing right by the land and invested in a sustainable infrastructure that gives back more than it borrows. Fueled by a desire to leave a legacy to their five children, the Cornell’s patiently waited until their ninth harvest to produce their first commercial vintage of Cornell Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon in 2013.
With just three vintages released, Cornell Vineyards has found a seat in an elite group of vintners producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County. Under the guidance of winemakers Francoise Peschon and Elizabeth Tangney, the wine is receiving recognition among consumers, trade, and press.
The diversity of the landscape at Cornell Vineyards and the rolling terrain led to the identification of 20 distinct blocks originally planted in 2001, and partially replanted in 2013.
With vines as with wine, there is no substitute for the passing of time when it comes to acquiring and expressing the elements of greatness; an equilibrium must be reached, roots and vine architecture established, and the need for irrigation and
fertilization minimized or eliminated.
Approaching their third decade now, the vines at Cornell Vineyards have had time to get to know the mountain – its diverse,
colorful soils, extreme terrain, and distinct seasons – and the team has had time to get to know the vines and the unique
wines they produce.
In the vineyard, the team continually seeks to deepen their understanding of the intricacies of the land in order to capture
its expression most faithfully. That knowledge comes with time, but also with a certain intimacy rooted in the love of a place.
In 2015 Henry and Vanessa Cornell invited the vineyard crew and their families to live on the property year-round, to share
the bond they feel with the land and make it their home. This has yielded a mutual commitment and deep connection to the
estate which is at once nature, farm and home.
As Cornell Vineyards enters its third decade, inspiration is drawn from the footsteps that first walked on this land. Every day, the team works in harmony with this wild land respecting the delicate balance of nature and understanding the powerful potential of human interaction. The team is led by humble intentions to honor this place sustainably.
Since 2014, Cornell Vineyards has been certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). This validates their commitment to organic standards promoting and enhancing the unique biodiversity, biological cycles, soil fertility, and ecological harmony of the land.
Cornell Vineyards is also certified fish friendly farming by the California Land Stewardship Institute for their work to restore natural habitat conditions for the endangered Steelhead trout, Chinook and Coho salmon species.
Austin Pitzer, Director
Texas native Austin Pitzer has more than 10 years of experience in hospitality and management. As director for Cornell Vineyards, he is a brand ambassador responsible for national sales, brand development, budgeting and hospitality, as well as tastings on property and guest relations. His big picture point of view and systems and management tools have set the brand up for sustainable growth.
He decided to pursue a career in the wine industry during a college project, which led him to a position at a Texas winery. It was there that he discovered the daily operations including winemaking and vineyard management.
Austin moved to Sonoma in 2009, where he broadened his experience working harvest and hospitality. He has held sales and hospitality positions at Robert Biale Vineyards and Hartwell Vineyards, and most recently served as General Manager of Sarocka Vineyards before joining Cornell Vineyards in early 2018. Austin and his family own a wine label, Avril Taylor, which focuses on small-production Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Rosé from Napa Valley.
Austin is a certified wine professional from the Culinary Institute of America and is recognized by the Court of
Master Sommeliers as a Level 1 sommelier. He is a graduate of Baylor University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Roger Bower of Crown Point Vineyards
Crown Point Vineyards
Established in 2012, Crown Point is an estate winery dedicated to crafting wines of the highest distinction. Nestled in the eastern-most foothills of the east-to-west transverse valley of the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA, Crown Point is blessed with distinct climatic conditions and soil types that provide an ideal growing environment for Bordeaux varieties.
Roger Bower, the owner and visionary behind Crown Point, purchased the property after recognizing its potential to produce world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. Led by Winemaker Adam Henkel, whose career includes eight vintages at Harlan Estate, Bond Estate, Prom-ontory and Levy McClellan, Crown Point is a true vanguard in the region, crafting premium wines that rival the best throughout the world. Roger engaged Philippe Melka in 2017 as part of his commitment to constant improvement and excellence.
Crown Point Vineyards prides itself on farming and winemaking at the highest level to create limited production wines that reﬂect the unique character of the estate and growing region.
Todd Newman of Dakota Shy Winery
Todd Newman – Founder
Todd Newman’s journey to the Napa Valley is a story in itself. Originally from North Dakota, he left with $1,500 and an Amtrak train ticket, determined to carve out his own somewhere and someway, through grit and a sheer will to see what else existed, he leapt into the Restaurant Industry in 2003 under the famed restaurateur Pat Kuleto. Here he collected tip money that would be the early foundation of what would become Dakota Shy. His friend and mentor, now Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly, formally of the French Laundry for over ten years, arranged for an opportunity to work at the famed Michelin Star Martini House in Saint Helena.
From there he found work scrubbing barrels and sitting in on Sundays at the Revana Family Vineyards Estate. He would rise from the ranks of Cellar Rat – to Cellar Intern – and eventually Cellar Master. Once the production side was formally understood, he transitioned into his real passion, Hospitality. Here he honed his craft for the next seven years playing critical roles in the early development of two new wine projects under the family of Revana Wines. Once he had enough saved, he purchased two tons of fruit in 2008 and began that dream that has become Dakota Shy.
A transition in 2012 to Hourglass Winery where he was able to build a DTC program for a cult wine was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Todd credits Jeff Smith, the founder of Hourglass, as one of the most influential people that helped him get to where he is today. Dakota Shy is also crafted at the Hourglass Winery and Todd has a chance to tell the story of the two wineries simultaneously.
Dakota Shy was truly borne from a dream and desire to be part of something greater – something that can influence peoples lives in ways that matter. Wine is and will forever be the vehicle that allowed Todd to dream and pursue those question marks of unknown he held for sometime. May it be, that charge that lights up your day – not the wine itself, but the value it brings. So much more than a beverage but a way of life.
Philippe Blanck of Domaine Paul BLANCK
Domaine Paul BLANCK
In 1610, Hans Blanck, the family’s Austrian ancestor, acquired the first vines in Alsace. Jacques Philippe Blanck obtained a medal for his work as a winemaker in 1846, and in 1927 found Paul Blanck and a handful of other winemakers being recognized as the driving force behind turning the site of Schlossberg into a pilot site for a future grand cru.
In 1975, with the creation of the grand cru appellation in Alsace, Bernard and Marcel Blanck, the sons, played a determining role. Schlossberg was the first to be assigned this appellation. A new generation of winemakers—Frédéric and Philippe—entered the scene in 1985. Their main preoccupation is respecting the vines and the soil upon which they are planted.
The domain has increased its surface area from 24 to 36 hectares with five grand crus accounting for more than a third.
The Blanck Family
A dynasty of winemakers A dynasty of winemakers :
In 1610 , Hans Blanck, the family’s Austrian ancestor, acquired the first vines in Alsace.
In 1846 , Jacques Philippe Blanck obtained a medal for his work as a winemaker.
In 1927 , Paul Blanck and a handful of other winemakers were recognized as the driving force behind turning the site of Schlossberg into a pilot site for a future grand cru.
In 1975 , with the creation of the grand cru appellation in Alsace, Bernard and Marcel Blanck, the sons, played a determining role. Schlossberg was the first to be assigned this appellation.
In 1985 came a new generation of winemakers : Frédéric and Philippe.
Their main preoccupation is respecting the vines and the soil upon which they are planted. The Domain has increased its surface area from 24 to 36 hectares with five grands crus accounting for more than a third.
This is a reality for the Blancks. The proof is that two generations of Blancks work hand in hand. The sons, Frédéric and Philippe work incessantly under the supervision of Bernard and Marcel to improve their wines and move in new directions.
“Our main objective is to create authentic wines of pure pleasure for food and wine-lovers throughout the world.”
Bernard, Marcel, Frédéric and Philippe Blanck (Owners)
Dating to the 17th century, Domain Paul Blanck represents an exemplary synthesis of history and tradition flawlessly combined with innovation. The net result of which in an invitingly diverse range of stylish and lively wines.
The Blanck are Environment Conscious. The 36 hectares of the Domain are farmed with traditional cupper and sulphur treatment, and no fertilizer. All the vineyards are ploughed several times in the year. Indigene grass is growing to develop the biodiversity of the fauna.
The Blanck’s main objective is to create wines of pure pleasure for food and wine-lovers throughout the World.
The thirty different wines from the property can be separated into three main types:
- Fruit-driven wineswhich enable the wine-lover to discover the aromatic finesse of the Alsace grape varieties ;
- “Terroir” wines with stony characteristics from the single vineyard’s wines and Grand Crus which express the plenitude of limestone, the sweetness and firmness of clay, the harmony of manganese an the racy bouquet and power coming from silica ;
- Nectars wines : Late Harvested and “Grains Nobles” wines, issued from over ripe grapes which are mysterious, opulent, complex and exhuberant.
Our wines come only from our own vineyards and are made in our own cellars.
Grape varieties : Chasselas, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Muscat, Gewurztraminer.
Classic Wines :
The Classic grape varieties of Alsace and Cremant d’Alsace,
The “Crus” Wines :
Altenbourg, Patergarten, Rosenbourg,
The “Grands Crus” Wines :
Schlossberg, Furstentum, Mambourg, Sommerberg, Wineck-Schlossberg.
Biography Coming Soon!
Leila Faghani of Ehlers Estate
The Ehlers Estate Story
Ehlers Estate represents the unique fusion of an outstanding winegrowing estate, environmental consciousness and international philanthropy. The historic and diverse Napa Valley vineyard of Ehlers Estate is certified organic and is cultivated using biodynamic farming techniques to produce a small portfolio of exceptional estate-grown wines. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of these wines go to support the Leducq Foundation, a highly regarded, not-for-profit foundation dedicated to funding international cardiovascular research. In 1985, French entrepreneur and philanthropist, Jean Leducq, began acquiring small parcels of vineyard land in Napa Valley’s acclaimed St. Helena appellation. A dedicated vintner and wine lover, his goal was to found a contiguous Napa Valley estate—in the classic French style—capable of producing wines with the power, grace and sophistication of the great Bordeaux houses. By 2001, Leducq had joined the original 14-acre Ehlers Estate property with contiguous vineyard parcels to create a 42-acre estate. At the heart of this estate is the historic stone winery built by Bernard Ehlers in 1886. As a tribute to the site’s long winemaking history, Leducq and his wife, Sylviane, revived the original Ehlers Estate name beginning with the winery’s inaugural 2000 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. The following year, Ehlers Estate produced its first Merlot, and with the 2002 vintage, the winery added its flagship, estate-grown 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon bottling to its portfolio of handcrafted Bordeaux-varietal wines.
Leila comes to Ehlers with over 12 years of experience in ultra-premium wine sales and has spent the last 10 years managing and growing sales specifically for family owned Napa Valley wineries. Originally from New Jersey, Leila lived in New York city for almost 10 years before moving to Miami where she resides today. In her free time, she is training to become a certified yoga instructor, and enjoys living healthy and active lifestyle.
Chad Nazum of HALL Winery, WALT Wines and BACA Wines
HALL Winery and WALT Wines
A rich history spanning 150 years, HALL St. Helena’s location was once the home of the Napa Valley Co-Op, producing 40% of Napa Valley’s wines. Today, the Hall family has meticulously restored the 1885 Bergfeld Winery and merged history and innovation with the completion of California’s first LEED® Gold Certified winery, in addition to a stunning new visitors’ center and state of-the-art gravity-flow winemaking facility. The Tasting Room & Winery at HALL St. Helena goes above and beyond the tasting experience of any winery currently in Napa. Featuring floor to ceiling glass windows that offer a unique sense of place in the valley, the Tasting Room, designed by local Napa architect Jarrod Denton of Signum Architecture, offers entertaining education, unique wine experiences, includes a fully-equipped demo kitchen and incredible art immersed throughout the property.
• HALL Wines is a family-owned, critically acclaimed premier Napa Valley vineyard and winery with five estate vineyards of classic Bordeaux varietals
• The Winery & Tasting Room is located on the historic Bergfeld Vineyard at the base of the Mayacama Mountains and just north of Mt. Saint Helena
• The Winery boasts a collection of over 30 pieces of both commissioned and collected 21st century modern art
• HALL’s highly rated wines have included the 2008 ‘Kathryn Hall’ Cabernet Sauvignon selected as Wine Spectator’s #2 wine in the world in 2011, the 2010 ‘Exzellenz’ which received 100 points from Robert Parker in 2013, and the 2006 ‘Exzellenz’ selected as Wine Enthusiast’s #1 wine in the world in 2009.
• HALL’s Napa Valley estate vineyards are Certified Organic and employ cutting-edge vineyard technology to yield the highest quality grapes
• Established in 2005, HALL Wines remains a privately held, boutique company that employees over 100 people
WALT is dedicated to the production of premier Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Pacific Coast’s most distinctive vineyard sites, spanning nearly 1000 miles and including Sta. Rita Hills, Los Carneros, Sonoma County, Anderson Valley, and the Willamette Valley. Our philosophy is that of precision, non-interventionist winemaking, thereby allowing the wines to naturally and honestly express the character of the site where the wines are grown. Under the artisanship of Director of Winemaking Steve Leveque and Winemaker Megan Gunderson Paredes, WALT Wines will continue to evolve and develop.
BACA is Latin for berry, so that’s where we started. Bounding headlong into some of California’s most noted growing regions—Calistoga, Russian River, Rockpile, Howell Mountain, and Paso Robles—we sourced the most intriguing Zinfandel grapes for our wines. Grapes from gorgeously old vines and historic areas, which we transformed using masterful winemaking techniques into wines that reflect the unique places in which they’re grown. The result is five complex, charismatic Zinfandels that pair beautifully well with both food and adventure.
John Bookwalter of J. Bookwalter Winery
J. Bookwalter Winery
John Bookwalter is currently the president of Bookwalter Winery. Founded n 1983, Bookwalter Winery has successfully transitioned from the first generation into one of the most dynamic mid-sized wineries in Washington State with production reaching 30,000 cases and retail locations in Eastern and Western Washington along with a full service restaurant located at the Winery in Richland, Fiction@ J. Bookwalter. As the president of Bookwalter Winery, John is responsible for overseeing all operations as it relates to winemaking activities, vineyard management, sales and marketing initiatives and strategic planning for the company.
John is very active in his home state and local community. He currently serves on the executive board of the WTA (Washington Tourism Alliance) and the Tri-Cities Cancer Center. John is the past board chair for the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau and the past board chair of the Washington Wine Commission. John has also served as vice chairman of the board for Wine America, the wine industries national advocacy group based in Washington DC and as vice chairman of the board of the Washington Wine Institute. John has also served as a board member of the local chapter of the American Heart Association, and the local Tri-City economic development council, TRI-DEC.
John joined the family Winery in 1997 following a 10 year career in sales and marketing in the beverage industry. Throughout his career he has successfully launched and developed brands within all major beverage segments utilizing multiple methods of sales and distribution.
Prior to joining Bookwalter Winery, John most recently served as the Northwest Business Manager for the Coors Brewing Company, the nation’s third largest brewer. He was responsible for managing all field sales personnel as well as the strategic sales and marketing efforts throughout a large beer and wine distributor network.
Before joining Coors, he spent 5 years with the WinterBrook Beverage Group a manufacturer of new age beverages. While at WinterBrook he managed the Western US Division, and was instrumental in successfully launching and developing the Cascadia, WinterBrook and LaCroix brands throughout the 13 western US States.
John began his career with the Gallo Wine Company in Southern California where he held sales and sales management positions in the grocery chain division. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in marketing from Arizona State University.
Luis E. Reyneri of Knights Bridge Winery
Knights Bridge Winery
Luis brings nearly 30 years of sales and hospitality experience to the position, most recently as Director of Sales, Southeast Region and National Accounts for Domaine Serene Vineyards and Winery in Williamette Valley, Oregon. Prior to that, he served as Sales Director, Latin America and Caribbean as well as Southeast Regional Director for Jackson Family Wines.
Luis Reyneri is a Certified Wine Educator and Advanced Sommelier, and his background includes extensive, large-scale staff training, serving as Adjunct Professor at the University of Las Vegas, NV, head judge for the Miami International Wine Fair, and serving as sommelier at prestigious wine events such as the Naples Winter Wine Festival, Napa Valley Wine Auction, Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival and the Wine Spectator Grand Tastings.
Luis resides in Hobe Sound, FL with his wife Jen, and their two sons. He is joining Knights Bridge Winery during a time of exciting growth as we look ahead to new vineyard plantings and the anticipated construction of our estate winery. He brings with him a broad understanding of the wine business as well as the requisite hospitality and brand building expertise that will greatly benefit our organization.
JP Havens of Macauley Vineyard
The Macauley Vineyard label was originally established in St. Helena in the early 1980s by Ann Macauley Watson and for several years produced a very well received, late harvest Sauvignon Blanc with help from renowned winemaker, Ric Forman.
In the late summer of 2000, Ann’s son, Mac, went to work for Rudd Estate in Oakville. After several months of winery work and education he was inspire to revive the family label, and, working with winemaker and childhood friend Kirk Venge, crushed his first grapes in October 2001.
Mac and Kirk have one goal: to source the highest quality fruit in Napa Valley and make wines of extraordinary depth and personality. The grapes they choose showcase the terroir of the vineyards and crate a remarkable wine-drinking experience.
Kirk Venge – Winemaker
Second-generation winemaker Kirk Venge grew up in the Napa Valley. At his father’s side, he learned about farming and winemaking, feeling at home in the cellar at an early age. While pursuing his enology degree at the University of California at Davis, Venge worked at Mumm Napa Valley for five years in their experimental division. Upon graduation, Venge sought to expand his winemaking knowledge by traveling to New Zealand and working harvest in the southern hemisphere. Equipped with a broader sense of viticultural techniques, Venge returned to Napa to partner with his father in the creation of Venge Vineyards. Today, Venge brings his skill and passion to Macauley Vineyard. Those who know Kirk Venge will attest to his acute palate. His wines reflect balance and finesse. Because Kirk believes that wines are made in the vineyard, he is relentless in his quest to find the very best vineyard locations and sources of fruit.
Jill Schlegel of Merry Edwards Winery
Merry Edwards Winery
One of California’s first woman winemakers, Merry Edwards began her career at Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974. She went on to become the founding winemaker at Matanzas Creek in 1977 and remained there until 1984. For the next decade, Merry consulted for numerous wineries, large and small, in Oregon and many diverse appellations of California.
In 1997, family and friends joined Merry to found Merry Edwards Winery, with a focus on producing Pinot Noirs with a sense of place from Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. In 2008, she and her husband, Ken Coopersmith, completed their winery on the site of Coopersmith Vineyard. It was then expanded in 2010. In this venue, tastings are hosted to educate visitors about Merry’s handcrafted wines and site-specific viticulture.
Along with two regional blends, six vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs are bottled. In 2001, a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc was added to the portfolio. Merry is also now making a single-vineyard designate Chardonnay from the venerable Olivet Lane, as well as an occasional late harvest Sauvignon Blanc and late-disgorged-style of sparkling wine.
In 2013, Merry’s 40th year as a winemaker, she was not only inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame, she also won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional in the United States, just the fourth woman to be so honored. This past year, Merry’s winery was ranked the No. 2 top-selling brand in America’s finest restaurants in Wine & Spirits Magazine’s annual poll, as well as No. 1 selling Pinot Noir.
Jason Moore of Modus Operandi Cellars
Modus Operandi Cellars
Growing up in Dallas, as a 24 year old kid, winemaker wasn’t exactly the most obvious career path that springs to mind, but after working as a waiter in several of the city’s finest restaurants, acquiring a love for all things wine, getting the go-ahead from his bride to be, and selling everything that they owned, Jason Moore was off to California where yes, he had the lofty aspiration and dream of becoming a Winemaker.
Completely self-taught thru diligent self-study and the utilization of winemaking mentors, he knew that true learning when it comes to such a stylistically artistic yet mind blowingly organic and mystifying thing such as winemaking can ONLY be accomplished through hands on experience MAKING WINE. There is absolutely no substitute. Jason honed his craft in the garage of an elderly vineyard owner in Napa. He grew the grapes, made the wine, and they split the product on bottling day.
In 2004 at the age of 26, Jason officially started his professional career by launching Modus Operandi Cellars with 200 cases of Napa Cabernet. 2006 brought a new chapter where he was hired to manage the custom crush winery where I made Modus. Here Jaso was responsible for over 1000 tons of grapes and literally hundreds of fermentations, working closely with 14 of the winery’s clients… a perfect crash course for the current chapter of my life. Now, he is currently the Consulting Winemaker for 5 small wine brands spanning Napa, Sonoma, Monterey, Sierra Foothills, and the Agoura Hills of Malibu.
It has been Jason’s great honor to have his wine poured at a historical State Dinner at the White House. Author Michael Connely has also written Modus Operandi into the bestselling novel The Black Box. This wine was hand selected to be paired with food prepared by Celebrity Chef Tom Coliccio at the 2013 Aspen Food and Wine festival.
Jason is so thankful to God that at such a young age, he found his passion and was fortunate enough to be able to enjoy it as a career. He believes that winemaking is an art that is supported by science however a solid conceptual understanding of the science is also necessary.
Paul Leary of Palmaz Vineyards
Palmaz Vineyards’ winemaking takes place in a flawlessly engineered maze of tunnels and domes carved into rock at the base of Napa’s Mount George.
The winery is built into an 18-story cavern in the flank of Mount George, providing it with not only all the benefits of gravity-flow winemaking but also the natural temperature control of a cave. By eliminating mechanical pumps from the winemaking process, gravity-flow design minimizes the turbulence that damages wines’ molecular structure.
At the heart of the winery sits the fermentation dome, lined with 24 fermentation tanks that can accommodate grapes from individual vineyards across the estate. The sophisticated monitoring systems for each tank allow winery team members to project a broad range of data (including thermal imaging) onto the ceiling of the dome.
The World Underground
Palmaz Vineyards’ gravity-flow and gravity-finish subterranean winery, the Cave, is a remarkable feat of engineering, harmoniously fusing tradition and technology to produce world-class vintages. Take a step-by-step tour of this unique underground world.
John & Gill Wagner of Peake Ranch Winery
Peake Ranch Winery
John and Gill Wagner, Proprietors
John and Gill Wagner live part time in Los Angeles and spend the rest of their time at Peake Ranch. John grew up in Ventura County working on his family’s lemon and avocado orchards. He attended UCLA and completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Physics. John pursued a career in finance, but always wanted to return to agriculture. He has completed the UC Davis Certificate in Winemaking. Gillian was born in England, but has lived in the States for many years. Gill serves on several boards, the most important relating to the homeless situation in Los Angeles. Gill completed the first section of the UC Davis Certificate in Winemaking and was then defeated by the chemistry. John and Gill have two sons, Tom and Joe.
Their connection with the Santa Barbara wine world began about ten years ago and has grown stronger ever since. They fell in love with the beautiful countryside, the amazing hospitality of ‘wine’ people and, of course, the wonderful wine made in this magical region. Their commitment to the area was sealed when they purchased Peake Ranch and decided they wanted to build a winery and a small house on the property.
Peake Ranch has a wonderful history full of special people who roamed the land. We respect that legacy and plan to honor it in every way we can; from the way we grow our grapes, to the people they surround ourselves with and the hospitality they plan to extend. They are excited to become part of a very special community.
Lisa Peju of Peju Province Winery
Peju Province Winery
Peju Province Winery, founded in 1982 by Tony and Herta Peju, is a family-owned boutique winery located in the Rutherford Appellation in the heart of the Napa Valley. Peju’s organically farmed Rutherford Estate Vineyard is home to 30 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and is ideally situated between Highway 29 and the west bank of the Napa River. Peju also produces wines from its sustainably farmed Persephone Vineyard (Pope Valley) and planting is underway at the Wappo Vineyard (Dutch Henry Canyon).
Visitors are welcomed into a magnificent 50-foot tasting room tower to sample Peju’s award-winning wines, including its flagship HB Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Provence, a proprietary blend of red and white varietals. Peju visitors can also enjoy pristine gardens, art exhibits and a full-working kitchen that hosts a variety of events and classes, all part of what earned Peju Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Top Artisan Winery of the Year.
There’s no such thing as a typical day for Lisa Peju. The oldest Peju daughter is always on the go, sometimes traveling to three different states during a week’s time to represent the winery at winemaker dinners, trade and consumer events and to meet with retailers.
The Peju’s Rutherford estate has been home to Lisa since she was six years old. It was then that she moved with her parents from Southern California to wine country to begin a life devoted to growing grapes, producing high-quality wines and finding new and innovative ways to market the family brand.
Lisa spent her childhood attending Napa Valley schools during the day and tending to the vineyard in the evenings and on weekends. It wasn’t uncommon to see Lisa and her sister Ariana driving the family four-wheeler along the property’s dirt paths with piles of grapes in the back bed.
After graduating from St. Helena High School, Lisa attended Marymount College in Palos Verdes and then U.C. Santa Barbara to study marketing and graphic design with plans of becoming a computer animator. But a summer trip to Paris in 1999 to study French at Sorbonne University with Ariana planted the seeds for another calling. In 2001, the French language came in handy as Herta took her daughters to VIN EXPO in Bordeaux, the largest wine Exposition in the World. Lisa enjoyed promoting Peju’s wines so much that she decided to change career paths and join the family business as a marketing and public relations ambassador.
Since joining Peju in 2001, Lisa has traveled throughout Europe and Asia, including Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, representing Peju. In the United States, Lisa has covered the map and led the charge to reach younger customers : Peju’s consumers of the future.
Alan Ramey of Ramey Wine Cellars
As the youngest Ramey, Alan was able to taste wine at the family dinner table as early as the age of six. With his family’s deep winemaking roots, it was inevitable that Alan would find his way into the wine world. He first expressed interest in joining the winery while in college. In response to his interest, his parents gave him a job in the cellar where he continued to work during summer breaks.
After graduating from American University magna cum laude with a degree in International Studies and minors in business and economics (with a year abroad at Oxford University), Alan continued working in the cellar at Ramey before polishing up his Spanish and traveling to Casablanca, Chile, where he interned for Veramonte. While there, he pruned vines, monitored grape press cycles, and familiarized himself with the winemaking techniques.
After taking in the wine scene in Chile, Alan traveled to Burgundy where he spent a vintage at the renowned Domaine Méo-Camuzet in the village of Vosne-Romanée in the Côte de Nuits. While there he worked with several Grand Cru and Premier Cru sites, both in the vineyard and in the cellar, while asking detailed questions in French about Burgundian winemaking methods.
Currently, Alan sits in on winemaking sessions, tasting through the wines and learning from his father and the rest of the team. He lead the effort to create a wine club, handles insurance, manages social media, and travels to represent the winery. He handles trade tastings as well as consumer tastings Fridays and Saturdays.
Jim Striegel of Red Mare Wines
Red Mare Wines
After working for four years as assistant winemaker at Paradigm for Heidi Barrett, one of the world’s renowned winemakers, Anne Vawter opened her winemaking consultancy with support and encouragement from Heidi, whose referrals now make up Anne’s client list. Shortly after, Anne began her own venture with Partner Jim Striegel – Red Mare Wines.
An avid horse woman, Anne named her wine label in honor of her red mare, Paradigm, who was a bonus given to her during her time at Paradigm Winery. The inaugural release of Red Mare Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2007 vintage, sold out in just two months. In addition to her Cabernet Sauvignon, Anne also produces a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and added a Sonoma Chardonnay in the 2011 vintage.
Red Mare Wines sources fruit meticulously from very small, well-respected vineyards throughout the Napa Valley, from a cool enclave of the Carneros to a hill top in Coombsville, and northward on the Valley floor in Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena. Our 2011 Chardonnay hails from a choice location in the famed Russian River Valley of Sonoma. We look for vineyards with unique qualities and distinctive character that will come together in the blending process to produce layered and beautifully balanced wines.
Jim Striegel began his love of wine at an early age while making wine with his father. They shipped a variety of grapes from Napa Valley, California to their hometown of Carbondale, Illinois and enjoyed red table wine with family and friends.
Jim enjoyed summers in the Napa Valley area with childhood friends when there were only ten wineries in the area, including Stag’s Leap. They would hang out in the vineyards and the cellars, experiencing the rich traditions that come along with it, including the annual “blessing of the grapes”.
With over forty years of experience in sales and marketing, Jim has built many successful businesses in the apparel, automobile and real estate industries. He worked for Izod Lacoste in Paris in the eighties and was able to further his wine education in both the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions of France.
When he was ready to begin his own brand, he called renowned winemaker Heidi Barrett. In addition to being a huge, longtime fan of Heidi’s winemaking, he worked with her on a wine dinner in the Dallas area and trusted her advice and guidance. It was through Heidi that he met winemaker and partner Anne Vawter and the rest is history.
Revana Family Vineyards
Heather Kormos of Saint Helena Winery
Saint Helena Winery
Saint Helena Winery is a small, private winery specializing in estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignons. The winery was founded in 2000, and is situated in the St. Helena appellation of Napa Valley. Winemakers Aaron Pott and Lindsey Wallingford guide the creation of three estate Cabernets and one Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay.
The estate is not open to the public, rather by invitation only. It is a working vineyard and winery in a serene country setting with accommodations for a relaxing wine tasting in the estate house, or on the veranda overlooking the Valley floor and Mayacamas Mountain range.
The winery was founded with the 2000 vintage of Sympa Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, with one barrel only made by famed winemaker Mark Herold. The winery estate is near the historical center of Napa Valley winemaking, adjacent to the properties of early vintners Charles Krug and Jacob Beringer. The founding family purchased the twenty acre vineyard estate in 1994 and proceeded to build a home followed by the winery and guest cottages. They sold fruit to notable neighbors including Opus One and Quintessa and slowly made more wines under the Saint Helena Winery label. Today they make fewer than 1,500 cases of estate Cabernet Sauvignons and one Chardonnay from a special vineyard on Sonoma Mountain.
The winemakers are Aaron Pott, a St. Helena based Napa Valley consulting winemaker recently named “Winemaker of the Year” by Food & Wine Magazine, and the notable rising star, Lindsey Wallingford. Lindsey also manages the estate vineyards with a small full-time crew. The vineyards are hand-tended throughout the year – truly farmed one vine at a time.
The estate contains 13 acres of vines. The soils are variations of Bale Loam with a wide ribbon of gravel from an ancient riverbed running through the north blocks. These are the blocks where Sympa and Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignons originate.
The Saint Helena Winery team makes a Chardonnay from the Scopus Vineyard high upon Sonoma Mountain, farmed by the highly respected viticulturist, Ulises Valdez. Just over 300 cases of this wine are produced each year. Aaron Pott earned his Master’s degree in Burgundy and makes this wine with the traditions of that region in mind.
Saint Helena Winery is run y a small team of women. Our owners live in Minnesota now and are honored to have the wines appreciated in some of the finest restaurants and fine wine retailers in the U.S.
Heather has cared for luxury winery clients for over a decade. She has worked with notable vintners including Heider Barrett, the Wagner Family, and now, Aaron Pott. Heather enjoys golf and world travel.
Andrew Schweiger of Schweiger Vineyards
Fred Schweiger purchased his first 8 acres in 1960 for $250 an acre. Inspiration to plant the “King” and “Queen” of vines begins by the late 1970s. During the 1980s, Schweiger fruit was sought by premium wineries like Joe Cafaro, ZD, Newton and Stags Leap Winery.
In 1994, Schweiger’s son, Andy—a UC Davis grad—came on board as the winemaker. Today, all 35 acres of the sustainably-farmed fruit is estate bottled for the Schweiger Vineyards label. Along with noble varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, micro-blocks of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petite Syrah are farmed for a proprietary blend.
CO-FOUNDERS FRED AND SALLY SCHWEIGER
FRED SCHWEIGER, Founder & Vintner
Born and raised on the very last farm in in San Francisco, California, a young Fred Schweiger couldn’t wait to help care for his grandparent’s 160-acre vineyard in the rugged Santa Cruz Mountains during summertime. The Spring Mountain chapter of Fred’s book begins in the late 1950’s, when his parents purchased property in at that time unincorporated Napa County.
Though Schweiger did not have a large fortune to invest in vineyard development, he persisted and proceeded to build access roads and develop a water system for the young vineyard. During the year and a half of careful and systematic clearing of the heavily forested, rolling hill parcel, Schweiger studied viticulture at the University of California, Davis and Santa Rosa Junior College. Additionally, he gained invaluable knowledge from recognized local vintners including Herman Hummel, Joe Cafaro and Laurie Wood. Vines were planted in 1981 and today there are 35 acres planted to wine grapes on the Schweiger Vineyards Estate.
SALLY SCHWEIGER, Co-Founder
Sally was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. She attended Lowell High School (where she met her future husband, Fred) and went on to graduate from Concordia University in River Forest, IL. She taught elementary school in Fair Oaks and Santa Rosa, CA. After marrying Fred Schweiger in 1966, she gave birth to Diana in 1968 and Andrew in 1970. As a stay-at-home mom, Sally helped Fred by keeping the books for Schweiger Construction. As a couple, Sally and Fred started Schweiger Vineyards in 1979 and have been working together to make it a success ever since.
The Schweiger family is proud to be one of the long-time property owners on Spring Mountain at nearly 53 years of ownership spanning four generations to live and work on the family Estate.
ANDREW SCHWEIGER, Winemaker
Born in Sonoma County, Andrew gained a passion for winemaking early in life being surrounded by vineyards on the family property on Spring Mountain, high above St. Helena. While in high school, he spent summers working in a variety of capacities at local wineries including Gloria Ferrer and ZD.
In 1988, Andrew started his formal training in winemaking at the University of California, Davis. While keeping a full schedule at school, he expanded his winemaking experience by working at various wineries, including Joseph Phelps and Trefethen Vineyards. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in enology and microbiology and a minor in viticulture and music history, Schweiger set right to work at Chateau St. Jean, and a few years later at Cain Cellars.
When the time came in 1994 for Schweiger Vineyards to begin wine production, Andrew was able to balance his work load and oversee all the winemaking operations at Schweiger in addition to his full time obligations. Finally, the big step forward came in 1999 when Schweiger Vineyards chose to stop selling fruit to other wineries, and Andrew took the leap to Schweiger Vineyards full time.
During his tenure as winemaker, Schweiger Vineyards expanded from growing Estate Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to growing six varietals. Guests now enjoy Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Port, two micro block Cabernet Sauvignons, and his signature Bordeaux-style blend, Dedication®. Andrew’s role as Winemaker takes him on journey vcs worldwide to improve his craft. Andrew firmly believes that great wines start in the vineyard, so there’s no telling if you’ll find him in the cellar or out in the vineyard on any given day.
Andrew currently resides in St. Helena with his wife Paula and two children, Jerry and Megan. In his free time he also enjoys cooking, ice hockey (Go Sharks!) and playing music.
Matt Sherwin of Sherwin Family Vineyards
Weston Eldson of Silver Ghost Cellars
Silver Ghost Cellars
Silver Ghost is a complex Cabernet Sauvignon made from some of the finest vineyards in Napa Valley. The perfect combination of lush valley-floor fruit with the structure of high-elevation grapes gives balance to the wine. One-third is sourced from an historic east Rutherford vineyard. The other two-thirds are from a hillside site in Calistoga and a celebrated west Yountville vineyard. The presence of clone 7 gives the wine a classic and elegant character, while clone 337 lends a lush texture with luxurious fruit and fine-grained tannins. The wine is then aged 22 months in French Oak. Luxury balanced with accessibility – this is the beauty of the Silver Ghost Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Winemaker Weston Eidson has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a devotion to quality. His great-grandfather, John Montagu, was a pioneer in the emerging automobile industry at the turn of the 20th century. As a British Lord and Member of Parliament, he was an instrumental figure in early automotive legislation. Montagu had a close relationship with Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, an d suggested that his secretary serve as a model for the Rolls-Royce hood ornament, the Spirit of Ecstasy, which we still see on Rolls-Royce cars to this day. As a tribute to his family’s illustrious past, Weston adopted the name of his great-grand father’s favorite car – the 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.
Nearly a hundred years later, while attending graduate school in the UK, Weston traveled around the world visiting as many wine regions as he could, from Chile and South Africa to Bordeaux, Alsace and the Veneto. Weston’s adventures eventually took him to Napa Valley where he met Jason Moore of Modus Operandi Cellars. Under Moore’s guidance, Weston worked the 2012 harvest and quickly garnered invaluable winemaking skills. Weston has since learned from mentor Russell Bevan and developed a conviction for making rich wine with minimal intervention – allowing the fruit to express its full potential while crafting wine that naturally reflects its distinct terroir. Weston’s Silver Ghost Napa Cabernet is a result of passion, hard work and an appreciation for fine wine. Family get-togethers and celebrations were never complete without it.
Suzanne Tate of TATE Wine
TATE wine was founded in 2011 in St. Helena, CA and produces small-lot wines from micro-vineyards dotted along the valley floor and hillsides of the Napa Valley. Husband and wife team, David and Suzanne Tate work hand-in-hand with local farmers to produce 1000 cases annually from single-vineyard sites on Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Yountville and St. Helena.
David Tate, a native of British Columbia, Canada, is the Proprietor and Winemaker of TATE. For nearly 20 years, he has worked all over the world in many facets of premium wine production. As well as hand-crafting TATE wines, David is the winemaker and manager for one of the most renowned boutique wineries in the Napa Valley, Barnett Vineyards, where he has produced multiple vintages of critically acclaimed wines.
Prior to his work with Barnett, David was the assistant winemaker at Ridge Vineyards for five years atop Montebello in the Santa Cruz Mountains; his years with Ridge laid the groundwork for David’s commitment to quality and understanding of what it takes to produce premium, world-class wine with a sense of place. In addition, David has worked in the Barossa Valley, Australia; Provence, France; Canterbury, New Zealand and has traveled to every fine wine region in the world. David graduated from Brock University in 2002, with an Honors Degree in Enology and Viticulture. David’s research work has been published and he is an advocate for wine education, helping to teach portions of the Wine and Spirits Education trust in his free time.
A native Texan, Suzanne fell in love with wine after taking a wine appreciation course during university in Austin. A few years later, while pursuing her other passion and studying the culinary arts at the CCA in San Francisco, she decided to follow her gut and jump into a career in wine and took a job that would move her back to Texas.
After nearly five years working in fine wine distribution in Houston, Suzanne had a chance meeting with David at a wine dinner, and well, as the saying goes…the rest was history…
Suzanne made her move to the Napa Valley in May 2010 and very quickly came to call St. Helena home. Together, she and David founded TATE wine in 2011 and are now excited for their 9th harvest and their new tasting room in St. Helena!
Amy Ash of The Vineyard House Winery
Amy Ash, General Manager
Napa native Amy Ash has been in winery executive management since 2007. Over the past decade she has worked in many facets of the wine industry with a focus on cult and elite Napa Valley wineries. Prior to the wine business Amy owned a real estate investment company and traveled throughout the country purchasing real estate in addition to owning vacation rental homes in Napa and Tahoe. In her free time she is an accomplished equestrienne and raises Arabian show horses.
Three Sticks Wines
Bruce Phillips of Vine Hill Ranch
VHR, Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon is an estate-grown wine of place, the culmination of the Phillips family’s evolution from grapegrowing to winemaking over three generations. Years of traversing vineyard rows and caring for each of Vine Hill Ranch’s seven blocks have imbued a deep understanding of our estate vineyard’s unique characteristics.
To produce a true wine of place, we take a minimal touch approach to winemaking: harvesting at optimal ripeness, meticulous sorting of fruit, cold-soaking, extended maceration, use of native yeast and new French oak barrels. We vinify each lot separately to promote the full expression of the vineyard, and compile the blend on annual basis to reflect a singular expression of the vintage from Vine Hill Ranch.
FRANÇOISE PESCHON Raised in California’s wine country with family roots in Luxembourg, Françoise received an enology degree from UC Davis. After post-graduate work at the University of Bordeaux and an apprenticeship at Château Haut-Brion, Françoise returned to the Napa Valley.
In 1993, Françoise joined Araujo Estate, soon stepping into the role of winemaker. The reputation of the Phillips family’s determination to craft a wine of place from the estate vineyard drew Françoise to VHR in 2008. She collaborates closely in the field with vineyard manager, Michael Wolf, to cultivate a wine that is dynamic, powerful and elegant—a soulful expression of the site.
BRUCE PHILLIPS Third generation Napa Valley winegrape grower and vintner at Vine Hill Ranch, Bruce Phillips carries forward the Phillips family’s 60-year tradition of producing singular Cabernet Sauvignon from Vine Hill Ranch.
A 30-year veteran of the food and consumer product industry, Bruce has participated in the successes of a variety of consumer product ventures, from Odwalla to Constellation Brands Inc. Past president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Bruce currently serves on the Boards of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, and the Land Trust of Napa County
Emily Steen of William Cole Vineyards
When William and Jane Ballentine bought a nineteenth century ghost winery in St. Helena in 1999, little did they know it would take them years to open its doors which had been shuttered since prohibition. They enthusiastically began an extensive renovation of the 1873 stone wine cellar on the bottom level of the historic three-story building while they moved their family into the top two floors. Throughout the project they began to uncover the incredibly rich history of the property and it became their goal to restore the original integrity of the winery and incorporate modern winemaking techniques. The property was deemed so important to the history of the Napa Valley, that the county wrote a special historic ordinance to allow it to be reopened as a winery. By 2004, they had completed restoration and opened as a fully operational winery. In honor of tradition, they named it William Cole for “William” and their son “Cole” and dedicated their Cabernet Sauvignon, Cuvée Claire, to their daughter, Claire.
Winemaker and Owner: William Ballentine Bio
Fourth generation winemaker and owner, William Ballentine started working at a young age with his father in the vineyard. His love of growing grapes matured into making wine for several large wineries in the Napa Valley. After quite some time and much experience, he decided to open his own winery in 1997, William Cole Vineyards. Ever since he has been perfecting 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mark Porembski of Zeitgeist Cellars
ZEITGEIST (tsit- gist) is a philosophical term meaning the spirit of the times. The word was coined by the German Romanticists to describe the cultural, ethical and spiritual mood of an era. We believe wine allows us to conjure up our very own distinct place in this time and culture. With each bottling, our intent is that the wine embodies the spirit of the vintage and the shared winemaking and viticulture philosophies of this era. And each cork pulled over dinner, stimulates conversation contributing to our shared zeitgeist.
How we do it?
In pursuit of fine wine at fair prices, we employ conscientious selection at each step while doing the work ourselves. We’ve committed to a handful of carefully chosen vineyards, sort vigilantly through the fruit at harvest, and bottle only the best barrels. Our goal is to be thoughtful in our approach and simple in our methods. We make each exceptionally small batch of wine ourselves and guide them carefully through fermentation and aging at Behrens Family Winery in St. Helena. The results are two beautiful Heritage white varietals and a small stable of excellent Cabernet Sauvignons.
Zeitgeist Cellars is a collaboration between husband and wife winemaking team, Mark Porembski and Jennifer Williams. With two winemakers in one wine project, we find that when it comes to taste, there are plenty of opinions! Yet we thrive on the creative conflict of working so closely together. Zeitgeist is a product of this intimacy. We are a hands-on team carefully performing all of the work ourselves. We intend our wines to be delicious and pure, reflecting the spirit of the times.
Mark was drawn to wine years ago thanks to the relaxed underage drinking policies of waiters in Boston’s North End. With a poetry degree in hand and a budding interest in wine, Mark moved to California in 2000. The idea of helping around some cellars eventually turned into a career. He has worked in many small Napa Valley wineries and has also made wine in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Mark is also the winemaker at Anomaly Vineyards and Unwritten as well as founder of Band of Vintners. He started Zeitgeist Cellars with the 2005 vintage and was pleased when Jen joined the project shortly thereafter.
A California native, Jen entered the wine business through the vineyard beginning with a degree in agriculture from Cal Poly. She has worked a dozen harvests in Napa and the Central Coast and also spent time in Rioja Alavesa, Spain. She was the winemaker for Spottswoode Winery from 2006 through 2010 and now works with Arrow & Branch, Ziata and Pahlmeyer.
John Linklater of W. & J. Graham’s Port, Featured Port
W. & J. Graham’s Port, Featured Port
Graham’s was founded in 1820, and now has earned an unmatched reputation as the leading producer of premium Port wines. The company has been owned by just two families in its entire history; originally founded by the Graham’s, it was acquired by the Symington family in 1970.
The Symingtons can trace their ancestors as Port wine producers back four generations to Andrew James Symington who came to Oporto in 1882, but back thirteen generations through their great grandmother, Beatrice Atkinson, to Walter Maynard who shipped 39 pipes of Port in 1652. A unique record in the history of Port.
Today, five members of the Symington family work in the company —Paul, Johnny, Dominic, Rupert and Charles. The family personally manages all aspects of wine making from the vineyard to the final bottling of the wine.
Graham’s owns five vineyard properties. Quinta dos Malvedos, Graham’s flagship property, has always been the heart of Graham’s Vintage Port, where most of the grapes are sourced. Quinta da Vila Velha and Quinta do Vale de Malhadas (both privately owned by a member of the Symington family), as well as Quinta das Lages, have contributed to the Graham’s unique style. The latest acquisition, Quinta do Tua, perfectly complements Malvedos and adds a further dimension to Graham’s Port wines. John Linklater works with Premium Port Wines. He represents Symington Family Estate brands such as Graham’s, Dow’s and Cockburn’s.