One Gift Changes the Destiny of a Family

The story of Sullivan Vineyards begins in the 1950s when Jim Sullivan, living in Los Angeles, fatefully received a grape arbor as an inspirational wedding gift which forever changed the destiny of the Sullivan family.  In the 1960s, Jim was an accomplished creative visionary and graphic artist who produced well-known work for Dick Clark Productions and famously worked with the band, the Monkees.  When he became a home winemaker, his innate creativity in the arts naturally honed his winemaking skills which grew to become an undeniable passion.    

In the early 1970’s, Jim decided to take the next step and search for land in Napa Valley to call home.  The Sullivans settled in Rutherford just as the quiet farming community predicted a California wine boom. Today, Rutherford is internationally recognized as a premiere wine growing region, and Sullivan Vineyards & Winery – one of the few family owned estates in the Napa Valley – sits in the heart of Napa Valley.  The property spans a total of 26 acres, 24 acres of which are planted with primarily Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, in addition to Merlot, Petite Verdot, and Cabernet Franc varietals.  Sullivan’s focus is Bordeaux-style estate wines with an annual production of approximately 5,000 cases.

Sullivan Vineyards Art | VAULT29

The 2nd Generation of Sullivans

When Jim passed away in 2008, his children Sean, Ross and Kelleen inherited the business and spearheaded a second generational quest for a renaissance.  Other additions have been Ross’s brother-in-law, Scott McCleod, who joined Sullivan in 2012 as their consulting winemaker; and Assistant Winemaker Jeff Cole who was previously at Schramsberg.  Scott had held the honors of head winemaker for Rubicon Estate for 18 years and was impressively named 2009 Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

For the past two years, the family has worked diligently at enhancing the tasting experiences for the winery’s visitors and loyal club members.  The estate underwent major renovation of the family’s residence by adding a copper roof and finishing the panoramic deck with views of the winery’s pond, the valley floor and Napa’s mountainous ranges to the east and west. An entirely new structure was built for a state-of-the-art tasting room, where Kelleen’s artwork is proudly displayed on the walls and wine labels throughout the property.  Rather than a typical walk up bar, the winery hosts guests to a one hour seated tasting experience in their beautiful courtyard under the stately trees.  You won’t want to miss the vintage car collection as well! 

A Bright Future

The future looks incredibly bright for Sullivan Vineyards, especially with some very great projects in the works!  On the horizon is an overhaul and complete makeover of wine labels.  In the past, Kelleen would design one label every release. The 2013 vintage and beyond will feature Kelleen’s art pieces along with the small production “Spotlight” wine series which will be incredibly rare at an estimated 100 cases.  Winelovers should also be on the lookout for the 2013 James O’Neil wine which will feature a special art piece of Jim’s that once showcased at the MOMA. 

Tasting Experiences at Sullivan

$30 Current Release tasting 
$45 Library tasting
$75 VIP tasting of library wines and charcuterie

Think about becoming a wine club member as Sullivan throws really cool parties with are complimentary for 2 if a member. Also, the current release tasting and library tasting are comped (up to 4 tastings) and one gets 20% off the VIP tasting. Reservations required.

Be sure to view others experiences at Sullivan VIneyards while adding your own in the VAULT29 app!

"Like" & "follow" Sullivan Vineyards on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest!