The aperture of a camera lens changes the amount of light a photographer has to work with; at Aperture, we’re shedding light on what Bordeaux varieties in the cooler pockets of Sonoma are capable of. Warm, sunny days and brisk nights ensure that every bottle bursts with freshness, no matter how generous the fruit.
An ultra-premium Napa winery specializing in limited production Bordeaux-style blends, is owned by wine specialist and auctioneer Fritz Hatton and his wife Caren. One of America’s most celebrated winemakers, Andy Erickson, crafts the Arietta wines from carefully chosen blocks in the cooler climates of Napa Valley.
After investing 20 years of effort into this now mature 14 acre plot of Pinot Noir, it has become more interesting due to an increased focus on small block fermentations, vine age and two decades of experience. The most important part of winemaking is to begin with a great vineyard site, manage it well so the vines bring forward the best they have to offer, and then get out of the way and let the natural beauty of the wine come through and evolve. Pure and simple.
BRACK MOUNTAIN WINES
Barrique, Bench, Cyprus, Enos, Fable, L'Oliveto, Scholar & Mason, Tembo
Brack Mountain Wine Company is a family-owned winery dedicated to making artisan, small production wines that offer value to their customers. They embrace new ideas along with time-tested techniques and strive to define what a “next generation” winery can be. Located in the Russian River Valley near Sebastopol, California, their winemaking team is committed to producing elegant wines that reflect their region, vineyards and climate. They work with small growers, many of them multi-generation farmers, and all of them dedicated to sustainable practices, and source grapes from distinctive vineyard sites across Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Anderson Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands.
Central Coast · Paso Robles · Santa Lucia Highlands
They have seen the thirst for site-specific, terroir driven, and sustainably farmed wine become the driving force for many avant-garde California winemakers who gravitate toward varieties that flow outside the mainstream. BREA Wine Company seeks to capture this thirst while also bringing the beloved classic varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir into the fold.
BRICK & MORTAR
Napa Valley · Sonoma County · Mendocino County
Founded in 2011, we began with single-vineyard chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah, from select high-elevation Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino vineyards. Since then, we’ve applied that same discerning approach to methode champenoise sparkling, vin pétillant-style rosé, and canned wines as well. Our wines are elegant, balanced, and food-friendly: the European wine drinker’s California wine.
Santa Lucia Highlands
Through light handed winemaking we aim to achieve elegance through rigorous control. Looking to showcase vintage variation our wines receive minimal manipulation, and in 2015 all wines produced will be 100% estate coming from Escolle. Elimination of outside grape sources only supports our efforts to heighten control in every way possible. The maturation of Escolle gives us the opportunity to fully control every decision that will be made at the vineyard.
Pairing the robust opulence of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with the graceful sophistication of a prized Bordeaux, Casa Piena is crafted to honor its Yountville roots while achieving a seamless balance between fruit and the earth. The stunning uniqueness of Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon is that though it is able to realize voluptuous ripeness, the resulting wines nonetheless reflect nuanced elements of cool climate elegance and soil-driven character. As a result, Casa Piena is receiving rave reviews for its powerful expressiveness. It evokes Bordelaise characteristics of ripe red and black fruit, spice and minerality, without compromising its Napa Valley heritage.
Cathy’s winemaking journey began nearly 45 years ago when she took a wine appreciation course at Pomona College on a complete whim. She fell in love with wine for all the usual reasons, but, as a Biology major, was also taken by the fact that wine is the result of a fascinating collaboration among a series of living systems. Two years later she graduated, and two days after that, arrived in the Napa Valley, bent on making wine. A master’s degree in Enology at UC Davis followed, and then a harvest internship at Freemark Abbey in 1978. Winemaking positions included Yverdon in 1979-1980 and then Chappellet Vineyard for the 1980’s. In 1987, toward the end of her tenure at Chappellet, there was a wine inside her that needed to get out and she began to buy grapes and barrels (instead of cars and houses). Using other wineries’ excess capacity while continuing to moonlight at Staglin, York Creek and Long Meadow Ranch, Corison Winery was born.
Di Costanzo’s focus is tiny production, top-quality, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, made by our team of two: Erin and Massimo Di Costanzo.
When we met in 2009, he’d already laid the foundation for Di Costanzo Wines, but when we came together, it all came to life. After just weeks of dating, he handed me some grape shears and we picked our first parcel of Cabernet Sauvignon together. Partners in wine and in life, we set off to start a winery with very little money and no vineyard land. Di Costanzo Wines began in earnest in 2010 with four barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Farella Vineyard in Coombsville, and over the years we have added other vineyard sites to their portfolio of wines. Di Costanzo remains a two person, family operation, from the vineyard to the cellar to your glass.
Emerson Brown Collaborations began while working hand in glove at Vineyard 29 during the harvest season of 2005, a vintage marked by an excessively large crop, so big that many wineries turned fruit away at the crush pad. We did a little horse-trading with growers and the Emerson Brown partnership was born. We have continually collaborated on Napa Valley Wines ever since. We hope you enjoy our latest offerings.
Founded in 2014 by Certified Sommelier and French Wine Scholar Gray Randolph, "Gray Randolph Wines" is dedicated to delivering wines of balance and intensity. Built with the backbone of California Sunshine, the wines deliver powerful fruit with signature minerality and finesse. Through relationships with the finest farmers from Napa and Sonoma, the winemaking team starts with award winning vineyards and creates wines of incredible quality. Very small production allows for extreme care in the winemaking process.
Perched on a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Fort Ross, Hirsch Vineyards is the birth ground of great pinot noir on the extreme Sonoma Coast. David Hirsch founded the vineyard in 1980 to grow fruit and make site-specific wine. From the start all efforts have been on the growing of fruit that makes wines profoundly characteristic of the site vintage after vintage.
In the wines of Hirsch Vineyards you find a natural balance and consistency in the harmonious resolution of these opposites. This complex, unique site produces fruit and wines of unusual acidity and balance with a vintage specific concentration of pinot noir or chardonnay fruit. These are wines to be enjoyed now or laid down for future consumption.
I. BRAND & FAMILY
I. Brand & Family, La Marea, Le P'Tit Paysan
They did not set out to make these wines, they discovered great vineyards at the edge of sensible farming and decided to bring them to light..
The farther they looked, the more they found – remote, challenging vineyards, with hard depleted soils, and intense sunlight tempered only by the coastal breeze. Vineyards capable of producing only the most idiosyncratic wines. Our goal as winemakers is to lightly polish the roughest edges and leave the idiosyncrasy intact.
We continue to adorn our bottles with the art that surrounds and inspires us. Because our wines are a celebration of the year and seasons in which they were made, always different and unique, no two bottlings are ever the same. We honor each distinctive vintage with new artwork; sometimes our own, our friends or collaborations with artists across oceans.
Kinsman Eades is the maiden wine project of Shae and Nigel Kinsman, producing classically proportioned, articulate Napa Valley cabernet sauvignons. Turning to winemaking as a second act to music, Nigel’s passion for cabernet sauvignon took him from Margaret River to Tuscany, then finally to Napa Valley as winemaker for Araujo Estate Wines. Meanwhile, Shae’s epicurean heart saw her train under Australia’s top sommeliers before pivoting to wine business studies. Relocating to Napa Valley in 2006, she found her way to cult producer, Abreu Vineyards, before she and Nigel began making wine for their eponymous label in 2016. Crafting small-lot, single-vineyard expressions, the Kinsmans’ mindful farming and restrained winemaking chart the course. Striving to let the fruit lead the way, theirs is a pursuit of authentic character over perfection.
The historic Larkmead estate is one of the oldest family-owned establishments in Napa Valley. Originally founded in 1895, Larkmead is now under the stewardship of proprietors Cam and Kate Solari Baker.
Larkmead’s legendary vineyard features a remarkable diversity of soils that are more typical of a hillside than the valley floor. Centuries of alluvial flow have resulted in the accumulation of ancient riverbed gravel, clay, and loam. Winemaker Dan Petroski captures the nuance and complexity of this site by vinifying small lots according to clonal selection and soil type.
Our mantra was to find a vineyard site that could produce ultra-premium, limited production, Rhone and Priorat style wines that would be a true expression of the site. After two years of evaluating many potential sites (almost to exasperation), we finally found our Holy Grail. The analysis of 42 soil pits on this site revealed coveted limestone with low vigor soils. This, combined with the high elevation and steep slopes, was the unique and remarkable property that would produce the premium fruit we desired. Critical to our goal is a winery that can manifest the quality of the terrific fruit and create a world-class wine. We also believe that the Tasting Room should be an environment much like your home living room, where you can relax with friends and family while enjoying our Law Estate wines. As we continue to showcase and share the best that our estate has to offer, we will always be honored to have you joining us in the adventure.
Certain gifts are given to the winemaker in California: the fruit will always ripen, it will never suffer from a lack of depth of character, of power. It is not our nature to lean away from these gifts or try to deny them by picking excessively early or by overcropping the vineyard. We choose instead to lean in, to meet the fruit where it is.
The goal with all Lillian wines — roussanne, syrah, grenache and cabernet sauvignon — is to work with these historical, noble varieties in a sun-drenched place but raise the wines in such a way that gives the wines levity and lift; a certain transparency and fineness of detail.
Mendocino, Sonoma, Santa Cruz
Today the winery is owned and operated by the Licklider family. Husband/wife duo Matt and Sara Licklider and their small team produce the wines at a state-of-the-art winemaking cooperative in Santa Rosa. All of the fruit is purchased from exceptional vineyards spanning 200-miles and three counties (Santa Cruz, Sonoma, and Mendocino).
The focus is on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Carignan from sites with older vines, interesting soil, and heritage clones. Sometimes the hunt for Pinot Noir uncovers other treasures like a coastal Syrah vineyard or a rare, mid-century planting of Valdiguie. Room is made for such discoveries.
We are driven by discovery, precision and creativity. With an artisanal approach to winemaking, we craft wines that are both elegant and approachable. Sustainable farming, heritage clones, hand-harvesting, and an obsession for quality guide our path.
The distinctive name, “Marine Layer,” pays homage to the thick blanket of fog that pours in from the Pacific along the Sonoma Coast. Known for cooler temperatures and extreme conditions, growing grapes in this region is undoubtedly challenging, yet the most rewarding. Longer hang-time for the grapes results in nuanced flavors, bright acidity, and balance.
Winemaking, for us, is a natural extension of farming. We have both worked for many years in the sustainable agriculture and local food movement, and in 2003 we started Matthiasson Wines based on those values. Our wines are classical expressions of different grape varieties, some well-known like Chardonnay and Cabernet sauvignon, and some rare like Ribolla gialla and Refosco. The wines are refreshing, complement food, and are moderate in alcohol.
Mayacamas Vineyards has been a source of legendary California wine since 1889. The newest owners in a lineage of pioneering caretakers spanning more than 125 years, faithfully steward Mayacamas Vineyards toward a bright future, ever mindful of the great traditions of the past. The Mayacamas style begins with an early harvest to preserve acidity and encourage bright, vibrant flavors followed by extended ageing in neutral oak vessels. The wines are released only after further time in bottle, ensuring the elements coalesce into a complete wine.
A lifelong, self-proclaimed "food and wine geek,” Mac was a quick study and almost immediately had the press lauding his wines from near and far. His passion for unique sites in Paso Robles and California's Central Coast, combined with his meticulous attention to detail in the cellar, result in stunning wines that more than live up to the hype.
MONTE RIO CELLARS SKULL WINE
Lodi | Mendocino | California
Mr. Cappiello got his start in restaurants, his wine career began in 2002 as a Sommelier at Tribeca Grill. As time progressed his roles changed to Wine Director and restaurant owner over the next 15 years. Through connections with countless winemakers and after meeting his current business partner Pax Mahle, the transition to Winemaker was a natural progression for Cappiello. His winemaking career started in 2018, under the watchful eye of Pax Mahle. Monte Rio focuses on heritage and classic California varieties. Wines are made naturally with no additives and farmed with organic practices.
Santa Cruz Mountains
Mount Eden Vineyards is a small historic wine estate perched at 2000 feet overlooking Silicon Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountain Appellation, about 50 miles south of San Francisco. Founded in 1945, it is recognized as one of the original “boutique” California winery properties, focusing on small lots of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Mount Eden’s lineage of estate bottled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is the longest in California. Planted in austere, infertile Franciscan shale on a cool, exposed mountaintop, these low-yielding estate vineyards have consistently produced world-class wines for over a half-century. In 2007 Mount Eden acquired an additional 55 acre wine estate in the Saratoga foothills, which was christened Domaine Eden.
Mount Eden Vineyards also produces non-estate Chardonnays from the central coast, primarily Edna Valley.
ONCE & FUTURE
Sonoma County | Napa Valley | Contra Costa
For over 40 years, Joel Peterson has dedicated his winemaking career to championing and preserving old-vine, dry farmed Zinfandel & California heritage vineyards, gently coaxing their unique personalities into elegant, old world-style wines. With Once & Future, Joel continues his legacy, utilizing the same methods upon which he founded Ravenswood all those years ago: Small, open top California redwood fermenters, hand punch downs, extended macerations, native yeast, gentle transfer, minimal processing, and small French oak aging – all by hand.
Sonoma County | Mendocino County
Established in 2000 by Pax and Pamela Mahle, Pax Wines focuses on Syrah and Gamay Noir from cool, coastal sites, as well as a selection of esoteric varieties that showcase the great diversity of California wine.
From the vineyard to the cellar, a holistic style of winemaking is practiced. This means that all the fruit is grown using organic, sustainable, or biodynamic methods and no unnatural additions are applied in the winery.
Paydirt personifies the art of discovery, the act of “Going for Broke”, and the idea that risking it all brings about the greatest reward. Grown and cultivated by the most trusted growers in California, Paydirt is the ultimate Zinfandel blend of deeply rooted heritage clones from the oldest dirt we can find.
Pilcrow makes Cabernet Sauvignon from three distinct Mountain sites throughout the Napa Valley which celebrate an old-school wine style made famous by legends like Nathan Fay, Lee Stewart, and Bob Travers. Wines that are high-toned, unadulterated, and celebrate character (and characters).
Santa Lucia Highlands
This land has an identity. These mountains, this soil, the rocks, the quality of air and the wind. All these traits contribute to a character unique to this very part of the earth. Our goal as a family is to work with nature, through farming and crafting wines, and to preserve this identity in wines that express this very site.
The personality of this land was first recognized when Gary Pisoni began planting grapes in 1982 — some of the very first in this region. Each year we learn more about the characteristics of our vineyards, farming and winemaking to steadily improve the sustainability of what we do, and the wines we strive to create.
Samantha Sheehan founded POE in 2009 after being inspired by the wines she tasted in Burgundy and Champagne. The goal is not to replicate Burgundy, but rather create alluring, vineyard specific, age-worthy wines revealing the beautiful terroir of California. There is minimal intervention, judicious use of sulfur, and never any additives.
POE produces traditional Champagne method sparkling wines, rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and a nouveau from Pinot Noir. Each wine is made in very limited quantities, and sold directly from the winery and to high-end restaurants around the country.
Mike Lucia is no newcomer to the Northern California wine scene, as the owner and producer of multiple wine brands including Rootdown, Cole Ranch, and Es Okay. His winemaking roots go all the way back to the early 90s, where as a teenager he began working in the cellar. Since then, he's been busy: studied in the Fresno State Enology program, made wine for Copain, Goldeneye, and consulted for brands with similar mentalities. In 2016, Mike "hit the gas pedal" on Rootdown, increasing both the quantity and varieties of wine he made, stopping once he reached 9 wines. His newest venture, Cole Ranch Vineyard & AVA is testing all of his knowledge, as he studies a unique terroir (the smallest AVA in the US) and pushes to find the best Alpine varietals that will thrive in the Cole Ranch soil and climate.
We endeavor to create classically styled, terroir-driven wines which reflect the unique heritage and character of our site. We came to our property in 1955 – originally a 160 acre homestead, the ranch has a grape-growing history dating back to 1878. During the decades of our stewardship, four generations of Snowdens have been privileged to walk the woods and vineyards of this lovely and secluded place.
Situated on the eastern slopes of the Napa Valley, the Snowden Ranch lies just east of the Rutherford and St. Helena appellations, a few miles south of Howell Mountain, and a mile north of Pritchard Hill. Here at the confluence of these appellations, we tend twenty-three acres of vineyards planted in the hidden valleys and on the gentler hillsides of the Vaca Mountains.
Over 20 years ago, our Founding Partner, Tom Stolpman, discovered what we believe to be one of the greatest viticultural sites on earth. Hidden in the hills of California’s Central Coast, on a rare Limestone outcropping & unobstructed from the Pacific Ocean wind, this unique land is naturally suited to grow Syrah and Roussanne grapes. We are committed to preserving this natural environment for our vines through conscious farming, dry farming, & sustainable employment. In the winery, we prefer native fermentation & minimal manipulation.
Dedicated to sensible farming & winemaking, we believe that we can create vibrant, site-specific wines, with a focus unique to Ballard Canyon AVA, California.
In 2008 I founded Tatomer with two Riesling vineyards. My intention was to use my knowledge to make bone-dry Riesling in California unlike many of the off-dry examples in the marketplace today. I made a mere 400 cases in a small corner of a good friend's boutique winery. Since then, I have added more Riesling vineyards, as well as two Grüner Veltliner vineyards for a total production of 4,100 cases. I plan to explore the depth of my current sites; and pursue new Central Coast terroirs in the years to come.
Trig Point is produced by Nick Goldschmidt and his wife Yolyn. After flying the globe for many years as the head-winemaker for the likes of Simi, Allied Domecq, and Beam Estates, Nick decided to start a family company with his wife Yolyn in 1998. The goal of the company was to focus on site specific wine making from great vineyard sites from around the world. Having produced so many world class wines from around the globe, Nick knew exactly from which vineyard sites he would choose to make his wines.
The wines Nick and Yolyn Goldschmidt produce are all single vineyard, handcrafted, small production, artisan wines.
Santa Barbara County
Tyler is dedicated to producing wines of delicacy and balance, where structure and nuance are favored above all else. We believe wine should be elegant and honest, and possess aromatic purity and textural complexity. To best convey the individuality of each site, we try to be modern in our thinking and classic in our approach.
We’ve been making wine in Sonoma County for over ten years now and along the way, established a dynamic network of friends and colleagues that include vineyard owners, growers and winemakers. While we successfully navigated and maneuvered our way through the négoce market in the past, Valravn represents the next evolutionary step for us. Because of those forged relationships and friendships, we have exclusive access to grapes from fantastic vineyards and the team to oversee hands-on production from vineyard to bottle. We are proud of our past achievements and excited to realize the culmination of a decade of learning and focus, bringing authentic wines to the table that we have found, seen, and touched at every step.