Team Anthem was founded in 2009 with a mission to produce small quantities of handcrafted wines from the most distinctive and promising mountainous vineyards in Napa Valley. Anthem's winemaker is the talented Jeff Ames - 2008's Winemaker to Watch - while industry renowned John Truchard oversees duties as vineyard manager. The gorgeous bottle-wrapped label is a topographic map displaying the contour of the land around the winery, with a star pinpointing Anthem's exact location.
We are honored to have Proprietor Julie Arbuckle exclusively shares her Top 5 lessons she has learned in the wine industry. It's clear to see Anthem has every aspect of what it takes to stand out from the crowd!
The Top Five Inside Facts I have Learned in the Wine Business - By Julie Arbuckle, Proprietor of Anthem
1. The wine business requires immense patience. Especially when starting with raw land, it can take a decade or more of time, hard work, and investment to build a successful winery. When we began the process of planting our vineyards in 2007, we knew it would be years until our dream of having a winery would come into fruition. In 2009, our vineyards were still not capable of producing the ultra-premium fruit we require. Nonetheless, with the encouragement of our vineyard manager, John Anthony Truchard, we decided to jump-start the process by hiring a winemaker and purchasing grapes from another Mt. Veeder grower. Now that it is 2015, we are finally about to release our exquisite 2011 Mt. Veeder Estate Cabernet we planted seven years ago. After the first Cabernet harvest on our own land in 2011, the wine spent about 20 months in the barrel and will continue to mature in the bottle before we release it this Fall.
2. A wine’s quality is largely dependent on Mother Nature. The Napa Valley in general and Mt. Veeder in particular has an ideal climate for growing grapes, but even here, if the Spring and Summer are not warm enough to ripen the fruit, or if frost sets in after but break, making ultra-premium wine can be a challenge. In our hillside Mt. Veeder location on a bench overlooking North Napa, we haven’t had frost and have great sun exposure, so we have always been able to get our grapes perfectly ripe. In 2011, however, we risked our entire crop by opting not to pick our grapes before the Fall rains came unusually early although many other wineries opted to pick before the rain. Fortunately, the rain had no effect on the quality of our grapes and they got the additional dry weather and hang time they needed to fully ripen.
3. Earning praise and high scores from wine critics will not alone build a new wine brand. In our short time marketing our wine, we have earned high praise and scores, but it is not the only element that goes into establishing a successful wine brand. New high end wineries need to find ways to get their wines on the palates of their target consumers and to earn those consumers’ loyalty and trust, which again takes time. To earn our customers’ loyalty and trust, we do whatever it takes to ensure our wines are consistently lights out blockbusters. In most vintages, this philosophy results in us selling any wine that does not meet our extremely high quality standards to other wineries while it is still in the barrel.
4. One cannot underestimate the importance of a wine’s packaging, especially with all the options available today. Our label and packaging, designed by John Schall, really speaks to our customers and has been featured on wine blogs, videos, and even the cover of a book about beautiful bottles. My husband conceptualized our back label that identifies every factor and decision that went into making each of our wines in an approachable format. It makes my job marketing to wine experts easy except of course when I need to update the labels for each new vintage of wine we bottle.
5. Not all vineyards are created equal – not even close. When it comes to producing world-class wine, the quality of the grapes can determine about 85% of the quality of the wine. In short, the quality of wine that can be made is largely determined by the time the grapes are harvested. When I interviewed 100 winemakers in order to find our superstar winemaker, Jeff Ames, I was surprised to hear most winemakers agree that their job was to adjust and control the last several factors that can improve a wine’s quality. These factors include, but are not limited to, skilled winemaking, a smooth fermentation process, and access to the best barrels. We use 100% French Oak barrels, mostly new Taransaud and Darnajou barrels. The bottom line is even the best winemaker cannot make an incredible wine from average grapes.