cuvaison winery

Cuvaison Winery 50th Anniversary

From Cuvaison Winery, Steve Rogstad winemaker and Dan Zepponi, CEO, join Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger on California Wine Country.

The Cuvaison story starts in 1969. Back then, it was all new. If you look at wineries today that were also there 50 years ago, there are only 16, and even fewer that are family owned. A couple of friends Thomas Cotrell and Thomas Parkhill, founded Cuvaison Winery. They were both optical engineers who wanted to get into winemaking. Steve and Dan brought four bottles for tasting today:

  • 2017 Syrah Diablo
  • 2017 Pinot Noir Spire
  • 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir
  • 2018 Sauvignon Blanc

Steve studied literature and moved to France for that and discovered wine there, while Dan’s father started a winery.

The term Cuvaison is a French winemaking term for the time in which the red wine skins are in contact with the juice during the fermentation phase. Dan says that this is a really historic property and points out what Napa Valley does best. They focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but they also have a few others, where appropriate for the location.

Napa versus Sonoma. Napa has focussed on dark, heavy Cabernet Sauvignons, rich ripe Zinfandels. Chard comes from cooler regions, like Carneros, and Napa is a monoculture compared to Sonoma. Sonoma is very diverse because of all the subregions and subtexts of the sub regions. Cabernet is no longer Cuvaison’s focal point. Their vineyards in Carneros are some of the best vineyards in Napa Valley. The winery was founded in 1969 in Calistoga. They moved the winery to the middle of the vineyard in 2004 so nothing leaves the property until it is in the bottle. Then in 2010 they opened a tasting room, by appointment. It has glass walls and looks out over the vineyard.

The Rosé is bone dry, made direct to press. It is light and delicate with wonderful aromatics, dry cherry, bing cherry, strawberries.

The 2017 Pinot Noir is next. Dan calls it succulent and he would never have guessed it is a Carneros wine. It should be decanted for 2 hours.

They do some special events. The next one is the Lobster Feed, in August.

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