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Vineyard511 pt2

Vineyard511 pt2

"Wine Mic Monday" is a VAULT29 series based on an "open mic concept" where wineries take over our blog...because every glass and bottle of wine has a story. This week we pick up from last week's part 1 of the Vineyard {511} story. Click here to read part 1 which covered the Diamond Mountain AVA, ownership, what to do with an acre of grapes, and meeting the winemaker. . 

Vineyard {511} and the Wines of Diamond Mountain District (cont'd) by Ed Ojdana

What to Call It?

Before designing a logo and label for their wine, Ed and Irene needed to decide what to call it. Surveying other wine labels, they concluded that wine labels typically fall into several categories based on 1) the winery owner’s or family's name (e.g., Peter Michael), 2) geography, location or topography (e.g., Rutherford Hill), 3) critters or trees (e.g., Frog’s Leap or Silver Oak), 4) whimsical or humorous (e.g., Date Night Cabernet Sauvignon), 5) sensation oriented (e.g., Thumbprint Winery’s Four Play), or 6) foreign language derivative (e.g., L’Angevin Wines).  They chose the name Vineyard {511} to reflect that the grapes come from a single vineyard and, more specifically, from their property at 511 Kortum Canyon Road, on Diamond Mountain.

Designing the Vineyard {511} Logo and Label

Irene describes the Vineyard {511} label design as follows: “We wanted our bottle and logo to reflect not only our pride in our wine, but also to reflect the beauty of Diamond Mountain and our love of art. Our home and vineyard are surrounded by lovely mountains and colorful sculpture. So with the help of our talented designer Christian McDaniel, we presented ten designs to our friends and family for their input.  Because it does take a village, we blended their ideas with our own and came up with a subtle and graceful, diamond-inspired image reflecting both Diamond Mountain and, of course, that diamonds are a girl’s best friend! We used color for drama and silk screening (rather than a paper label) for elegance. We hope our bottle and label enhance the already-wonderful experience of our Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon. “ 

Getting to Know the Diamond Mountain Neighborhood

When purchasing their property, Ed and Irene knew that they were outsiders moving into a well- established community of wineries and generations of families.  They were concerned about how their Diamond Mountain neighbors would accept the “newbies” with Hollywood and internet-tech backgrounds.  Their fears soon vanished as they made friends, first with their most immediate neighbors, Norm and Suzie Kiken, owners of Reverie Winery, that abuts Vineyard {511}.

Norm acquired Reverie in 1993.  Today Reverie has nine varieties of grapes–Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Barbera, Tempranillo, Grenache, and Roussanne.  Although all of Reverie’s wines are great, Ed and Irene particularly favor Norm’s Barbera and Roussanne.  The limited production of these wines sells out quickly with each new vintage. 

Norm and Suzie, Owners Reverie Winery

Norm and Suzie, Owners Reverie Winery

Through Norm and Suzie, Ed and Irene were invited to the annual Diamond Mountain Holiday Party, where they were welcomed by many of the winemakers and residents of Diamond Mountain. Like Norm and Suzie, no matter how well- known their wines or reputations in the wine industry, Ed and Irene discovered a group of neighbors always willing to help a neighbor or provide practical advice regarding their wine.  Boots Brounstein, who with her late husband Al's efforts, are credited with bringing recognition to Diamond Mountain Cabernet.  Diamond Creek Cabernet, with its inaugural 1972 vintage, set the standard for Napa Valley Cabernets made exclusively from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Their vineyard designate Diamond Mountain District Cabernets are among California’s most sought after wines:  Red Rock Terrace, Volcanic Hill, Gravelly Meadow and Lake Vineyard.  Boots, along with her son Phil Ross and his wife Susan, who now run Diamond Creek Winery, are always approachable for help and advice, or for just a great evening having dinner and drinking wine.

Bill and Dawnine Dyer are probably the most famous winemaker couple on Diamond Mountain. Bill made wine at Sterling Vineyards for 20 years, from 1976 to 1996, starting as Cellarmaster and becoming Winemaker in 1985.  He was responsible for developing its single-vineyard wines, including a Cabernet from Diamond Mountain.  Dawnine spent 25 years as Winemaker at Domaine Chandon, where she introduced many original sparkling wines and wine styles.  They purchased 12 acres of land on Diamond Mountain in 1992.  With considerable effort, they cleared 2.3 acres and planted Cabernet Sauvignon (78%), Cabernet Franc (16%) and Petit Verdot (6%).  Later they built a home on the property, with the vineyard as their front yard.  Bill and Dawnine are highly engaged in the Napa Valley and Diamond Mountain communities.  Besides offering Ed and Irene advice on marketing their wine, they can always be counted on to keep updated on the many community and political issues in Diamond Mountain and Napa Valley.

Last summer Ed and Irene hosted a Diamond Mountain Neighborhood End- of- Summer Party and were delighted to entertain so many of their neighbors, famous and not so famous!

Mountain versus Valley Wines

The debate regarding mountain versus valley floor wines, is “a slippery slope.”  Both can produce excellent wines but with differences:

  • Napa Valley Mountain AVAs tend to be above the fog level and are bathed in sunshine, when the valley floor is covered in chilly fog.  Evening temperatures are also warmer for mountain sites than they are for those on the valley floor.  With fewer dramatic swings (diurnal) in temperature, mountain grapes build acid and sugar slowly.  The wines tend to have a good balance of alcohol and acid as a result.  Tannins tend to be more prevalent for mountain wines.

Vineyard {511} grapes

Vineyard {511} grapes

  • ·Most Napa Valley Mountain AVAs consist of volcanic soil, with Mt Veeder being the exception.  Valley soils tend to be deep and rich, sedimentary and alluvial.  Hillside or mountain vines are highly stressed, as their roots must go deeper for water and nutrients. Consequently, hillside vineyards produce smaller grapes and fewer berries than do valley floor vineyards. Hillside wines thus tend to be more concentrated with intense aromas and flavors.  Alcohol levels of mountain wines tend to be lower than that of valley wines produced from grapes that are larger and more juicy than are mountain grapes.  Tannins also tend to be more intense in mountain wines with smaller grapes increasing the amount of wine skins relative to juice during the fermentation process. 

Vineyard {511} Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon exemplifies these characteristics of mountain wines.  The low-yielding vineyard produces small, intense berries with flavors of cherry cola mixed with cocoa powder and rich tobacco and cedar notes. Its intense, dark, garnet color is accompanied by aromas of dark roast expresso, dark chocolate-covered cherries, and new oak.

Three Vintages Later

Fast forward and Ed and Irene have released three vintages of Vineyard {511} Diamond District Cabernet Sauvignon:  2009, 2010, and 2011.  They’ve also started a wine club called Encounter {511}, that celebrates each harvest with a Harvest Party at Vineyard 511 for club members.

Here’s what their winemaker says about each vintage:

2009 Vineyard {511}:  "This wine should be able to age for 20 years, but I always go back to the story of my dad and me. When we go down to the cellar, I want to pull cabs from 1990-1992. He wants to pull from 2005-2008. He wants to have the bright fruit, while I like the smoothness and richness that aging gives a wine. Luckily for us, we just open two bottles."  92 points, Wine Enthusiast

2010 Vineyard {511}:  "What I love about the 2010 is that it is a classic Napa Cabernet.  It has notes of tar, black currant, and a bright acidity. It is a rich, clean, powerful Cabernet that shows the effort we made in taming and smoothing the classic Diamond Mountain tannins.  The clean fruit makes me want to drink this wine now, but I know how much more I will like it with 10+ years of aging." 90 points, Wine Enhusiast, Gold and Double Gold Medal Winner, Orange County (CA) and Florida State Fairs, respectively

2011 Vineyard {511}:  “2011 was a late year for Napa Cabernet.  The growing season started late due to winter conditions lasting into spring.  We were lucky that warm conditions followed, and with Vineyard {511}’s nice hillside and western exposure, the vines were able to ripen, even with their slow start.  The grapes were picked on October 26th,in 2011, as compared to October 1st, in 2009.  So, while we started late, we also finished late, so that the grapes not only had time to get their sugar, but also had time to get their ‘ripeness’.  I love the 2011 for its smooth tannins and rich finish, which should drink well even upon release.” Release date: March 15, 2015

For more information, visit the Vineyard {511} website:

Be sure to add your Vineyard {511} Wine experiences in the VAULT29 app

"Like" Vineyard {511} on Facebook and "follow" them on Twitter @Vineyard511




"Wine Mic Monday" is a VAULT29 series based on an "open mic concept" where wineries take over our blog to write about aspects unique to them and their wines. This week, we have the distinct honor of featuring legendary Merryvale Vineyards and it's female proprietor, Laurence Schlatter, who discusses the winery's rich history; the people behind the scenes; and the hospitality and tasting experiences you will only find at the winery! Find Merryvale wine experiences in the VAULT29 app!

"Building on a Rich Napa Valley Legacy" by Laurence Schlatter, Proprietor

Merryvale Vineyards, the landmark, family-owned St. Helena winery, is one of the most historic and significant wineries located in the Napa Valley.  As the first winery built in the valley after Prohibition, Merryvale sits in a prime location along Highway 29, within walking distance from vibrant downtown St. Helena. Its Cask Room and vineyards bear the imprint of industry icons who have worked there.

Cask Room of Merryvale, Napa Valley

Merryvale’s proprietors, the Schlatter family, are traditionalists with vision, committed to preserving the winery’s rich past without compromising their innovative plans for the future. Alongside their winemaker, the acclaimed and charismatic Simon Faury, they have sharpened their focus on Bordeaux varietals, the wines for which Napa is most renowned. 

Laurence and Ren é Schlatter - Proprietors

Laurence and René Schlatter - Proprietors


René and Laurence Schlatter Although René and Laurence grew up in the same Swiss town along the shores of Lake Geneva, they never met until a chance encounter in 1995 in the Merryvale tasting room. The daughter of a sixth-generation winemaker and winery owner, Laurence had traveled to St. Helena to visit her brother, a Napa harvest intern, when she crossed paths with René for the first time. An introduction and a glass of wine led to a long distance relationship, which was soon formalized with a wedding ceremony in their Swiss hometown.

United in marriage, the Schlatters are joined in their belief in a hands-on approach to the family business. They are a constant presence on the property, in the vineyards, the cellar and the tasting room. As they lay the groundwork for the future, they are committed to building on Merryvale’s rich past. Their goal is to create an intimate, engaging atmosphere for visitors while producing exceptional Bordeaux-style wines that reflect the unique and rich history of the Napa Valley.

Simon Faury, Winemaker

Simon Faury, Winemaker


Merryvale Vineyards’ Cabernet-centric portfolio includes wines that are complex and rich, balanced and expressive of Napa Valley’s fruit but also reflective of classic styles. Winemaker Simon Faury’s meticulous attention to detail calls for handpicking grapes in small batches and using custom-made Rieger tanks tailored specifically for the character of the grapes in each vineyard block.

Grapes for the Profile (Proprietary red) wine and the St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon are sourced from Schlatter Family Estate Vineyard, on a hillside nearly 900 feet in elevation, just east of St. Helena. The vineyard’s 25 acres of volcanic rock soil provide ideal growing conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon and small-block plantings of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Permanent cover crops, reduced herbicide use, and integrated pest management are all at work in the vineyard, which became Napa Green Land certified in 2008. Fruit for non-estate wines is sourced from independent grower sites throughout Napa Valley that reflect the region’s diverse soils and microclimates. 


Merryvale Tasting Experience: Featuring single vineyard, limited-production wines, this tasting experience highlights the very best of Merryvale Vineyards and will be changed seasonally based on wine release dates and availability. It is offered at the tasting bar but is also available by prior appointment (48 hours in advance) to large groups in the Cask Room Club lounge area. 

Wine-Cheese Pairing in Merryvales Redwood tank room

Wine and Cheese Experience: This seated, semi-private food and wine experience is offered daily at 11:30 a.m., and pairs artisan cheese with Merryvale Vineyard wines. Developed by the winery’s onstaff CIA-trained chef, Jason Velderrain, this tasting focuses on family-owned, locally sourced products that embody the values of the Merryvale Vineyards family. Offered by prior appointment only in the historic Redwood tank room. Eight person maximum.

Profile Library Tasting: Handcrafted from the Schlatter Family Estate Vineyard and a few select vineyard sites, Profile is the centerpiece of Merryvale winemaking. Combining the current release Profile with three past vintages, this privately hosted, seated tasting is the ultimate expression of Merryvale’s unique history. Offered by prior appointment only in the historic Redwood tank room. Eight-person maximum. Last available seating is 3 p.m.

                        Merryvale Movie Nights The Perfect Pairing of Food, Wine and Film                               Napa Valley Night Life – What to do when the wineries close for the evening?  

It’s a rare treat to visit a winery at night, and now you can reserve seating at Merryvale Vineyard’s Movie Nights in the winery’s historic Cask Room. Two stories of century-old, 2,000-gallon casks line the stone walls creating an unforgettable ambience, and there’s much more than popcorn and soda on the menu. The scene is set with plush, comfortable seating and Merryvale wines poured by-the-glass, or for purchase in bottle, paired with locally sourced bites specifically selected to complement films. 

For more information please call 707.963.7777 or visit

Be sure to add your Merryvale experiences in the VAULT29 app!

Follow Merryvale on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Be Thankful, Drink Wine

Be Thankful, Drink Wine

In celebration of Thanksgiving, we're sharing our 7 Wines of Thanks. "Wine Mic Monday" and "The Hit List" will resume next week. Happy Thanksgiving Winelovers! Don't forget to capture your wine experiences using the VAULT29 app.

"7 Wines of Thanks" By Jen Loh & Naya Echiribel, VAULT29 founders

Year round, there is so much to be thankful for. We can begin compiling a ‘Thankful” list, which would include: health, happiness and love, but the reality is without wine our list would be incomplete.  Wine producers spend countless hours, days, and years to produce a bottle providing us the opportunity to taste their wine. We are truly blessed to be able to share our experiences with you in hopes you discover a new favorite. Here are seven memorable wines we’ve experienced thus far in 2014: 

2013 Rosé - Charles & Charles

This rose from Columbia Valley, Washington is a project collaboration between self-taught winemaker/Food & Wine Magazine “2009 Winemaker of the Year”, Charles Smith (K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines) and Charles Bieler (Three Thieves, BIELER Père et Fils, Gotham Project).  You can still find this wine at your local Whole Foods or wine shop.

  • $11-$15 per bottle
  • 90pts - Wine Spectator
  •  Wine Enthusiast ”2014 Top Buy"



2012 "Clements Hills" Grenache - Lava Vine

In August, we made a trip to Calistoga to taste the wines at Lava Vine. The crowd pleaser was the light to medium body Grenache.  This wine experience is unlike any other we’ve had. Winemakers went from pouring wines to playing the guitar, while the winelovers tasted, paired, laughed and sung along. The best part about it? Dogs are welcome too! 








2012 "Amor Fati" Pinot Noir - Rob Murray Vineyards 

Amor Fati means “Love your fate which is in fact your life”. The 2012 Pinot Noir was sourced from Murmur Ranch Vineyard located in the southern area of Santa Maria Valley, close to the ocean. Rob Murray planted the “virgin land” vineyard himself when he purchased it in 2007. Be on the lookout for Tooth & Nail winery opening this November in Paso where Amor Fati wines will be poured! 






2012 "Further" No Pasa Nada

We came across this red blend (65% zinfandel) from Paso Robles at a winetasting event aimed to help small family-owned wineries. No Pasa Nada is just that - small and boutique - producing approximately 900 cases winery-wide. You can only get this wine directly from the winery.

  • $20 per bottle
  •  Free Shipping – US addresses only






2013 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc - Long Meadow Ranch

This wine is the ninth vintage of sauv blanc from LMR’s Rutherford Estate in Napa Valley. The nose alone draws you in with the fruitiest of fruit flavors, like melon and pineapple. Clean, crisp, and refreshing is what comes to mind when describing this wine. At $20 per bottle, it goes perfect with pizza, crab cakes and bruschetta. When visiting the winery you must dine at Farmstead, their restaurant on the property – It’s divine! 





2006 “Materium” - Maybach Family 

When dining at Bottega, in Yountville, our friends insisted we drink a 2006 Maybach Family “Materium”. This highly acclaimed Weitz Vineyard Oakville Cabernet received 96pts from Wine Spectator and did not disappoint. You may find it on the wine lists of several fine dining restaurants in California, like Press, Gary Denko, and Jardiniere, as well as Per Se, Grammercy Tavern, Jean Georges, and others in NYC.  It’s definitely a memorable experience!    






2013 Paragon Grüner Veltliner - Tatomer

An amazing sunny day sipper from Edna Valley (Central Coast). We were so fortunate to experience this wine at Ad Hoc, a Thomas Keller restaurant in Yountville, CA. The set menu, which changes daily, is four-courses of American “home-like” foods which can be paired with wine, if you so wish to spend a little more money. This Tatomer Gruner Veltliner was paired with thyme biscuits, local honey, and goat cheese. Talk about party-in-your-mouth!!