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Mt. Veeder



Cuvaison is an iconic brand in Napa Valley and producer of beautifully crafted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Lesser known about Cuvaison is its ties to Mt. Veeder's Brandlin family; its green initiatives and commitment to the environment; and state of the art tasting room in the heart of their Carneros vineyards. Discover two incredible wineries in one very cool story! 

For many years, Cuvaison has been regarded as an iconic winery and brand in Napa Valley, consistently producing beautifully balanced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Located in the Carneros AVA (American Viticultural Area), the winery was originally founded in 1969 and purchased ten years later by the Schmidheiny family of Switzerland.  At the time of purchase, the Carneros region was little known for grape growing and the newly acquired 400 acres was pastureland. Today, Cuvaison’s 250 acres “under vine” produce a portfolio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah – all world class wines thanks to Carneros’ cool bay breezes and fog unique to the growing area.  The majority of the winery’s staff has held long tenures; Jay Schuppert, the President and CEO of the winery, has been with Cuvaison for 17 years.  The family itself reinvests all profits back into the business for its long term success – both testaments to the Schmidheiny family and its values. 

Two lesser known facts about Cuvaison are their ties to Napa Valley’s Brandlin family and commitment to sustaining the environment through various initiatives.

Family Ties 

In 1998, Cuvaison purchased a historic Mount Veeder property owned by Chester Brandlin. Located on a 1,200 foot ridgeline – this is one of Napa Valley’s most difficult but acclaimed mountain regions for grape growing. Dating back 140 years when the immigrant Swiss family first moved to Napa, they purchased various mountain properties instead of land on the Napa Valley floor; they began growing grapes as early as the 1870s.  In the 1920s, Henry Brandlin purchased this estate and started planting zinfandel which are still producing great wines almost 90 years later.  Cuvaison purchased the property from Henry’s son, Chester, who was very involved in grape growing until the age of 89 when he passed.  It’s hard to believe, but after so many years of growing grapes on Mt. Veeder, the Brandlin family never produced a bottle of wine with their family name on a label.  As a tribute and to pay homage to the family, the Mount Veeder wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon, a proprietary red Bordeaux style blend and two zinfandels – are marketed as an independent label called Brandlin Vineyards.   

Napa Green 

Both estate vineyards, Carneros and Brandlin, are certified Napa Green, meaning the company has been recognized for their work in reducing the impact on the environment.  Both estates are certified sustainable, practice Fish Friendly Farming and the winery/tasting room have Bay Area Green Business certification. The winery is solar powered producing 85% of their power use; they have invested in a very sophisticated water recirculation/conservation program; and they spearhead a cork recycling program where wine club members and neighboring wineries bring their popped corks to be grinded for repurposing. 

The staff at Cuvaison is dedicated to providing winelovers with a unique tasting experience at their recently built tasting room in the heart of their estate. Their original vision for the structure was to place their guests where they could get a true sense and appreciation for the vineyards and the picturesque, rolling hills of Carneros.  All visitors enjoy sweeping, 270 degree views with 22 feet floor to ceiling windows all while enjoying a 2-in-1 tasting experience with both Cuvaison and Brandlin wines.  Together, Cuvaison’s emphasis on lifestyle and celebration and Brandlin’s focus on exploration and discovery make for one unforgettable Napa Valley experience! 

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Anthem Winery

Anthem Winery

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.

Anthem Winery & Vineyards Grapes | VAULT29

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.   

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