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Wine Buzzin': Auction Napa Valley

Wine Buzzin': Auction Napa Valley

VAULT29 | Wine Buzzin' | #WineBuzzin'
Jennifer Loh, cofounder VAULT29

Jennifer Loh, cofounder VAULT29

Last week, we had a once in a lifetime opportunity to be attendees of Auction Napa Valley - one of the largest events held in the Valley benefiting community health and education. In the history of the event, $145 million has been raised. No doubt, many more millions were added over the weekend.

On Thursday night, wineries throughout the Valley hosted intimate dinner parties with 10-40 guests. It is an unforgettable experience to share an incredible meal in the company of proprietors and other passionate winelovers. My assigned winery was Chateau Potelle; a quaint little house and garden located off Hwy 29 in St. Helena. 

I was really moved by the welcoming speech of proprietor Jean-Noel. He told his story of coming to Napa Valley in 1980 when he worked for the French government. He was tasked with the job of coming to see what Americans were doing in the wine industry. And he loved it so much, he never left. 

When asked how one "rates" wine, Jean-Noel keeps it simple: either very good shit or very bad shit. He strongly believes wine is a personal interpretation and depends on context: your current mood, where you are, the occasion you're drinking and the people with whom you are sharing the wine. He feels experts should not be deciding whether a wine is "good or bad." Your wine journey is yours; constantly in flux and forever evolving with each new discovery. What you love today, you may not love tomorrow. This is a belief we firmly believe as well, and the reason we work so hard at VAULT29.

Moral of the story: love what you love! 

Find more of Jen's wine experiences by downloading the VAULT29 app and searching "Jen Loh" or "#ANV15" on the global Wine Wall. Favorite her experiences and create your own - Cheers!



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! 




"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!

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