There’s a unique character to wines made from mountain-grown fruit. In fact, of the 16 nested AVAs in Napa Valley, five are mountainous regions. But there’s more to Mount Veeder than just steep terrain and rocky soil. Though it’s one of the premier hillside appellations in Napa, it’s also one of the most diverse regions in the area.
That’s why Cultivar Wine decided to release two new wines this year from this acclaimed area: the 2020 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder, and the 2020 Cultivar Merlot, Mt. Veeder. In celebration of these releases, we thought we’d take a deeper look into the Mt. Veeder appellation to discover what’s truly different about this region.
Mount Veeder History
Mount Veeder was named for Peter Veeder, a Dutch Presbyterian pastor. Veeder lived in the area during the Civil War era. Veeder enjoyed hiking on the mountain, where the Douglas Firs and Knobcone Pines reminded him of the forests of home. In 1864, Captain Stelham Wing created the first bottling from the region and presented it at the Napa County Fair.
Commercial-scale production came to Mt. Veeder in 1900 when Theodore Geir, a flamboyant liquor wholesaler living in Oakland, bought the property that would later become the Hess Collection Winery. By the late 1890s, there were some 20 vineyards and 6 wineries on the slopes of Mount Veeder. Prohibition all but wiped out winemaking in the region until the early 1950s. It wasn’t until 1973 when a Cabernet Sauvignon was produced that bore the Mount Veeder designation on the label.
Fun fact: Petit Verdot first came to California in 1975 via Mount Veeder! Cuttings from the original vineyard site are the origin of most Petit Verdot in Napa Valley today.
Mt. Veeder is an incomparable mix of steep slopes, seabed soil, and cooling winds from San Pablo Bay. Mt. Veeder was granted AVA status in 1990.
The Mount Veeder Terroir
Often called “The Mountain By The Bay,” Mt. Veeder produces wines that reflect the independent spirit of its mountain growers and vintners. These are wines borne of rugged conditions that demand hand craftsmanship at the highest level. Mount Veeder is an island of ancient seabed pushed up into a mountain, surrounded by volcanic soils that typify the rest of the Napa Valley.
Here are some other amazing facts about this appellation:
- It has the longest growing season and the lowest yields in Napa Valley.
- Virtually all vineyard work is done by hand, due to the rugged conditions and steep slopes.
- Extremely steep slopes rising above the fog line create shallow topsoil and minimal water retention. This results in tiny berries with intense flavor concentration but soft tannins.
- It is the only hillside appellation in Napa Valley that adjoins the cool, bayside Carneros, benefiting from the cooling influence of San Pablo Bay.
Cultivar Wine From Mount Veeder
Our debut Cabernet Sauvignon from the storied Mt. Veeder appellation in Napa Valley is a stunner. With a hue between deep ruby and deep purple, you can see right away that this is a concentrated, mountain-farmed wine. The nose reveals Bing cherries, black currant, and dry earth, while interwoven layers of blueberry, cassis, vanilla, and mellow oak roll across the mid-palate.
As young as this wine is, the finish has a surprising smoothness, with flavors of cigar wrapper, plum, and eucalyptus. There’s no doubt the mountain fruit tannins are bold, but this is a wine that’s drinkable now and will only get softer with age. Enjoy it with grilled New York steak, pork chops with a peppercorn sauce, or lamb kabobs.
2020 Cultivar Merlot, Mt. Veeder
If you love a Merlot that’s deeply concentrated but retains its signature softness on the finish, then you love Merlot the way it comes from Mt. Veeder. We sourced this 2020 vintage from one of the most acclaimed vineyards on the mountain. the nose is presented with Bing cherries, blueberry, black currant, and the aroma of minerality that comes from the appellation’s unique soil.
The palate is greeted with sarsaparilla, cocoa dust, cherry cola, and black peppercorns, all drifting beautifully on a wave of soft, new oak. the longer growing season on Mt. Veeder is immediately apparent in the flavor profile: the fruit is forward and juicy without being jammy. On the finish, you’ll find equal amounts of cigar smoke, cola, and tannins that start out soft and will only become more balanced with age.
Enjoy this wine with mushroom risotto, meatloaf, wagyu beef sliders, Muenster cheese, or Prosciutto with melon. This wine will be released on the Cultivar Online Store in the fall of 2022.
Earth Day is a time to celebrate the planet we call home. Established on April 22nd, 1970, Earth Day marks the beginning of the modern environmental movement.
At Caspar Estate, sustainable, earth-friendly, certified organic farming practices are paramount. We preserve, protect, and maintain our plant resources for the ecological value of future generations. As we like to say, take care of the planet, and it will take care of us.
Being organic, we produce our own compost for our vegetation. What we don’t make ourselves, we supplement with an organic fish fertilizer emulsion.
Creating A Sanctuary For Earth Day And Beyond
Natural inhabitants of the land also participate in what we grow. We built perches for Barn Owls and predatory birds to assist us in rodent control. We also provide a hospitable environment for helpful insects. In addition, we plant crop cover for nitrogen and soil erosion control. When it’s time to remove the crop cover, we utilize a natural burn process that rejuvenates the soil.
Our small producer approach, combined with our organic and sustainable farming, produces award-winning results. The vegetables we grow are used daily at our farm-to-table restaurant, Cultivar SF. Our produce includes tomatoes, squash, peppers, olives, and a variety of herbs.
Sustainability Means Solar Power
In addition, we’ve also installed what we like to refer to as “The Solar Grove.” These solar panels provide clean, reliable, and renewable power to our property. During the hot summer months, we can also generate enough power to return energy back to the grid.
Terroir-Driven Winemaking Starts With Organic Farming
For winemaker Julien Fayard, our certified organic vineyard was a compelling reason to head our winemaking team. It’s no surprise that for a vintner attuned to the aspects of winemaking driven by nature, the process for Julien starts in the vineyard. The cellar work of fermentation and aging are, as he describes them, “big steps that have to be done right.” But they’re steps preceded by everything that happens at the all-important vineyard level. Out among the vines is, to Julien, where the essence of winemaking takes place.
“I like to put a little more focus on the decisions made ahead of what happens in the cellar,” he says of his winemaking approach. “It’s almost like what people picture as the central pieces of winemaking—fermentation and aging—are a consequence of the farming decisions.”
Earth Day is a great time to think about your own impact on the planet. What kind of environment do you want to pass down to future generations? Remember, you can make a huge difference simply by supporting small, organic farms and encouraging sustainability!
In Napa Valley, the best springtime wines are typically released just as the first blooms are beginning to appear. For Cultivar Wine and Caspar Estate, it’s no different. We like to release our fresh, bright Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé just as the days begin to warm. This year, we have some amazing springtime wines ready to release, and we thought we’d give you a sneak peak of what we have in store.
2021 Caspar Estate Sauvignon Blanc: A Springtime Tradition
The fourth release of our Estate Sauvignon Blanc showcases a wine that’s truly developed its own unique style and character. Shining from the glass with a pale straw color, our Estate Sauvignon Blanc reveals tropical notes that mingle with dried apricot, starfruit, and the signature minerality that comes from our hillside vineyard.
The complexity of the flavor profile is gorgeous. Grapefruit, banana, passion fruit, and a Crème Brûlée quality comes from extended time on the lees. Steel tank fermentation and just a touch of oak round out the finish with lemongrass and savory notes of Herbs de Provence. It’s smooth and light, but with bold acidity.
Enjoy it with ceviche, endive salad with shrimp, or lobster pasta.
Our 2021 Caspar Estate Sauvignon Blanc will be released to our allocation members in early April.
Rosé Season Is A Highlight For Springtime Wines
One of the best springtime wines is Rosé – though it’s quickly becoming a year-round wine.
We’re simply in love with the color and the flavor profile of our new 2021 Cultivar Rosé. A pale, pink glow shines from the glass, underlying the delicate varietals we used to create this wine. On the nose, our Rosé bursts with floral notes of honeysuckle, jasmine, lilies, and of course, roses. Crisp flavors of mandarin orange, Meyer lemon, and muddled strawberries greet the palate, with subtle, underlying notes of red licorice and Madagascar vanilla. Stainless steel fermentation highlights a light, clean finish with bright acid, making this wine perfect for both poolside sipping and picnics in the park.
Winemaker Julien Fayard has brought a Provencal flair to this incredible blend of southern Rhone varietals. For this vintage, we sourced 71% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 4% Cinsault Noir from the unique terroir of the Sierra Foothills in California. Rosé is one of the most food-friendly wines you can find, so pair this with everything from seared scallops to grilled pork chops.
The best way to get these wines is to join the Cultivar Wine Club. Wine Club members get the first allocation of all new releases, plus 20% off the regular price. There are other terrific perks to being a club member, so join up today!
Here’s to spring, and all the delicious wines that pair with it!
Stay at home and create a very special Valentine’s Day this year. Grab a couple of bottles of Cultivar Wine – like our 2018 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon or the 2019 North Coast “Gold Label” Cabernet and try making a romantic dinner at home featuring Beef Bourguignon with your partner.
Beef Bourguignon, or Boeuf Bourguignon, was first popularized by Julia Child. It’s a beef stew with braised onions and sautéed mushrooms in a dark red wine sauce. Unlike Julia Child’s traditional recipe, with a couple of ingredient substitutions, you can easily elevate the dish without sacrificing any flavor and even sit down to eat in about an hour. The other plus of this Beef Bourguignon recipe? You only use a 1/2 cup of wine instead of an entire bottle.
The key to this Beef Bourguignon meal is the cut of beef you choose. The traditional recipe calls for Chuck Roast, which requires a long braising time before it becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender. This recipe starts with a tender cut of beef, like beef tenderloin, top sirloin, or strip steak. If you don’t have one of these cuts, this recipe won’t work.
Kitchen Prep for Your Romantic Dinner
A romantic dinner at home calls for a stress-free experience, so you’ll want to do the following before you start cooking:
- Open your bottles of Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon to breathe.
- Read through the recipe in its entirety.
- Grab any pots, pans, and anything else the recipe calls for.
- Assemble all of your ingredients.
- Pour yourself a glass of wine and have some.
- Prepare and measure out all of your ingredients.
- Re-read the recipe in its entirety.
- Have some more wine.
- One to two chef’s knives
- Wooden spoon
- Two 1- or 2-cup measuring cups
- Medium-to-large pot
- Sheet pan
- Parchment paper or Silpat baking mat
- Two timers
- 3-quart saucepan
- Potato masher
Ingredients (makes 2 servings)
- 10-12 ounces beef tenderloin, top sirloin, or strip steak
- 1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon beef base
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 Tablespoon cold water
- 1 pound German butterball potatoes, quartered
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved or a bunch of carrots, halved lengthwise
- 2 Tablespoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter or bacon grease
- 2 bacon slices, diced
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1/2 cup pearl onions or shallots
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stems, and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon plus freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley for garnish
Instructions (total time: 60 minutes)
NOTE: These instructions assume that two people will be cooking together. If you’re making this meal by yourself, don’t start cooking your bacon and red wine sauce, until you’ve pulled your potatoes from the heat.
You’ll spend about 15 minutes preparing to cook and then about 35 minutes making Beef Bourguignon and your side dishes–olive oil mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts or carrots. Don’t get scared off by 24 steps. We wanted to highlight anything that might get missed or forgotten in more generalized steps. For example, if you don’t mix flour with cold water you can end up with lumps in your sauce.
- Take your beef out of the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature.
- If you haven’t prepared your ingredients, do so now. Quarter your potatoes. Halve your Brussels sprouts (or carrots). Mince your garlic. Slice your mushrooms. Dice your bacon. And chop your thyme. Depending on your knife skills and those of your partner’s, your mise en place could take about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Mix 1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon beef base with 1/2 cup warm water and set aside.
- Mix 1 teaspoon flour with 1 Tablespoon cold water.
- (Brussels Sprouts or carrots) Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or Silpat baking mat.
- (Brussels Sprouts or carrots) Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- (Potatoes) Put your potatoes into a medium-to-large pot and cover with cold water by an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Set a timer for 15 minutes. When the timer sounds, check with a fork to see if tender.
- (Brussels sprouts or carrots) Coat your halved Brussels sprouts with 2 Tablespoon olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Put in the oven and set a timer for 8 minutes.
- Pat your beef dry with paper towels and cut into 1″ cubes. If you go to sear your beef and it’s wet, you’ll steam your meat, potentially overcooking it. Season with 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt and a pinch of pepper.
- Heat a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tablespoons butter or bacon grease until melted or re-liquefied.
- Add your beef and sear 2 minutes, turning with tongs to brown on all sides. Take care not to overcook; your meat will become dry and tough. Transfer seared beef to a plate.
- (Brussels sprouts or carrots) After your Brussels sprouts have been in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, stir them so that they brown evenly.
- Add your diced bacon to your 3-quart saucepan and cook, stirring frequently.
- When you can smell the bacon, about a minute, add your sliced mushrooms, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
- (Potatoes) When your potatoes are tender (a fork should slide in easily), remove from heat and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain your potatoes in a colander and then return to the pot, covering with a lid to keep warm.
- (Brussels sprouts or carrots) When your Brussels sprouts are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, about 20 to 25 minutes total, remove them from the oven.
- Add minced garlic, tomato paste, and thyme to your pan and stir.
- Add wine and increase heat. Boil for 1 minute.
- Add pearl onions or shallots and broth to the pan and bring back to a boil.
- Slowly add flour paste to the pan and cook for a minute.
- Return the beef to the pan and cook until the sauce thickens and coats the beef, about 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Lower heat to low heat and keep warm until plating.
- (Potatoes) Finish your potatoes by adding 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 cup cooking water. Mash to desired consistency, adding more cooking water for a looser consistency.
- Plate mashed potatoes in the center of two plates. Top with beef and place the Brussels sprouts alongside. Serve immediately.
Food-Themed Movie Recommendations
Once you have your meal ready, it’s time to sit back and enjoy a movie. The perfect movie for this meal is of course one featuring wine, food, or both!
Here are some of our favorites–a mix of romances, dramas, and comedies:
- Bottle Shock (2008), starring the late Alan Rickman and available for streaming on Amazon Prime, showcases how a California Chardonnay maker established Napa as the premier wine county it is now in a 1976 wine competition.
- Uncorked (2020), available for streaming on Netflix and featuring the tunes of Hit-Boy, focuses on wine-enthusiast Mamoudou Athie who dreams of being a master sommelier and his father Courtney B. Vance who runs a BBQ joint.
- A Walk in the Clouds (1995), available for streaming on Starz, offers beautiful views of Napa in the mid-1940s with a romance between Keanu Reeves and Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, the winemaker’s daughter.
- Wine Country (2019), starring Amy Poehler and Maya Randolph and available for streaming on Netflix, follows a group of women as they reunite for a friend’s 50th birthday.
- Sideways (2004), available for rent on Amazon Prime and famous for giving Merlot a bad rap, takes viewers through another California wine country—Santa Barbara—as Paul Giamatti takes his friend Thomas Hayden Church whose about to get married on a Bachelor’s weekend. While roadtripping they meet Sandra Oh, a pour girl at one of the wineries, and Virginia Madsen, a waitress.
- Chocolat (2000), available for streaming on Netflix, is the perfect dessert movie. Root for Juliette Binoche as she opens a Chocolaterie and tempts villagers with her handmade chocolates.
- The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014), available for streaming on Cinemax, is for food lovers who love both mom-and-pop restaurants and Michelin-star dining. Watch Manish Dayal as he pursues dreams of being a Michelin-star chef alongside Helen Mirren.
- Julie and Julia (2009), available for streaming on Starz, features Amy Adams as a food blogger working her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook (where you’ll find her Boeuf Bourguignon recipe).
Eden Hemsley Silverstein fell in love with cooking in the third grade and has been bringing people together ever since to share meals. You can follow her on Instagram @RoadToGoodLife, Facebook @TheRoadToTheGoodLife, and her blog, The Road to the Good Life. Learn more about her through her bio on LinkedIn.
The winners of the 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition were announced the week of January 16th, 2022! Cultivar Wine and Caspar Estate were among the honorees, with five award-winning wines among the judges’ top choices.
The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, sponsored each year by San Francisco’s leading newspaper, started as a northern California tradition in 1983. Back then, it was known as the “Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition.” Since that time, it has grown to become the largest competition of North American wines in the world.
In fact, this year’s competition featured approximately 5,800 wines from over 1,000 wineries in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Of all the wine competitions in the United States, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition remains the most popular because of its focus on celebrating wines from exclusively North American wineries.
And The Winners Are…
This year, Cultivar Wine entered three varietals in the competition, while Caspar Estate entered two. The result? Every one of our entries brought home a medal!
Double Gold Medal
The accolades keep coming for the latest release of our Caspar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, crafted by winemaker Julien Fayard (Wine Spectrum’s 2021 Winemaker of The Year). A Double Gold is awarded when every judge on the panel independently awards the wine a Gold Medal.
Another stunning wine made by Julien Fayard, the Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon is Cultivar Wine’s only vineyard-designate Cabernet. Situated in the rocky terrain above Rutherford, the Leaky Lake Vineyard is a beautiful example of the uniqueness of Napa Valley terroir. The 2017 is one of the February selections for our Cultivar Wine Club Members.
This is classic Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, swirling with aromas of cherry, mushroom, earth, cola, mint, and eucalyptus.
From our Caspar Estate vineyard on the mountainside of the Mayacamas Mountains, our 2020 Sauvignon Blanc impressed the judges with its steel tank primary fermentation and gentle touch of neutral oak aging – another technique used with exquisite results by winemaker Julien Fayard.
We’re thrilled to see our most popular wine in restaurants across America become an award-winning favorite as well. Another Wine Club selection for February, our Gold Label wine is a Cabernet you can enjoy any day of the week.
How the Awards Are Judged
Each wine submitted to the competition is categorized by both varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, etc.) and price group. This way, red wines and white wines are judged separately, and Zinfandel doesn’t go head-to-head with Merlot. Similarly, a $100+ wine is not put in the same category as a $10 wine.
The 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition invited over 50 judges to participate this year. Many of these judges represented winemaking, wine education, and wine trade. But there were also judges from hospitality, culinary, media, and other wine & food sectors. This helped to create a greater sense of diversity and background in the judging.
“We’re thrilled with the results,” says Gingy Cable, co-founder of Cultivar Wine and Caspar Estate. “When you consider the number of wineries in the competition, and how the judges come from all facets of our industry, these awards feel like a real pat on the back. We’re proud of our whole team, and so excited to share these wines with our customers.”
Caspar Estate is proud to announce that our very own Julien Fayard has been named as Wine Spectrum’s Winemaker of the Year for 2021. Known as the “terroir whisperer,” a 100-point winemaker, winery owner, and avid surfer, Fayard is one of Napa Valley’s most respected consulting winemakers. His two decades of winemaking experience have had an enormous impact on Caspar Estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, from where the vines are planted to how the wine is made.
Julien Fayard was awarded this same honor in 2016, making him one of the few two-time winners. The quality, consistency, and breadth of wines Fayard crafts made him a stand-out once again. He’s considered a “master blender” and continues to show his winemaking prowess through his own labels as well.
“We’re excited to honor Julien Fayard as 2021’s Winemaker of the Year. Julien’s wines are highly sought-after and a pleasure to taste.”
—Glenn Siegel, President & Founder Wine Spectrum
French Sensibility in Napa
Originally from France, Fayard began his winemaking career producing quality rosé at his family’s winery in Provence. He worked at some of Bordeaux’s most noble wineries, including Lafitte Rothschild and Smith Haut Lafitte before relocating to Napa Valley. In Napa, he became Philippe Melka’s Director of Winemaking for eight years before launching his own projects and consultations. Fayard established his reputation as a winemaker with a light touch. He has an old-world sensibility, believing the soil, the climate, and the grapes should speak for themselves.
Julien Fayard’s Approach To Cultivar Wine
Julien Fayard is also the winemaker for Cultivar Wine’s only vineyard-designate wine, the Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. A 100% cabernet grown above the fog line of Rutherford, Leaky Lake wines are a perfect match for Fayard’s winemaking sensibilities. “The cabernet we grow there is extraordinary,” Fayard says. “I saw it rivals any of the mountain appellations in Napa—Howell Mountain or Diamond Peak—for boldness and character.”
Fayard presses whole clusters of fruit for Cultivar’s Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon. He then transfers to 100% French oak for at least 24 months before bottling. “Even then, it’s good to allow the wine to develop in the bottle for another two years, just to bring out the aromatics,” Fayard says.
This is one reason why the 2016 Leaky Lake Cabernet is our newest release. And at a mere 90 cases, it’s one of our most limited releases as well.
Caspar Estate: Winemaking Done in The Vineyard
“As a winemaker, my job is to bring out the best qualities that the vines have provided. I don’t seek to make a style of wine but more so to make wine that sings of its place, its history, and its uniqueness,” says Fayard. “That’s my goal as a winemaker, to make wines that are pure expressions of their environment and not mask it. Wines with an identity.”
The Caspar Estate vineyard rests on a hillside overlooking Napa Valley. Planted above the Rutherford Appellation with an exposure 20 degrees off north. The site sees sun from early morning until late afternoon, ensuring even ripeness of the grapes. Cool nights help to develop firm tannins and fresh acidity creating remarkable structure and balance in the finished wines. Our rocky serpentine soils benefit from a mineral deposit rich in iron and magnesium. This distinctive mineral deposit provides layers of complexity and flavor to wines unique to our site.
Caspar Estate & Cultivar Wine is proud of all of Julien Fayard’s achievements. And with one sip of Caspar Estate wine, you’ll taste exactly why.
Caspar Estate wines are available by allocation only. To become an Allocation Member, click here for more information.
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