At Napa’s Memento Mori Winery, It’s Carpe Diem Time

At Napa’s Memento Mori Winery, It’s Carpe Diem Time

With every big company entity shopping for a distinguished Napa vineyard will come the grumbles and problems of those people who imagine the valley is dropping its perception of soul and location. Still at the very same time, hundreds of tiny wineries continue to generate the valley’s high-quality and diversity.

It depends how you see the wineglass, as an optimist or a pessimist. The new news that Andy Erickson and Annie Favia secured a new place to build an estate for their Favia venture is scenario in level. A first-era, loved ones-owned operation doubling down to help develop its legacy, Favia delivers a resounding “glass half full” view.

Next shut powering is the news that Memento Mori’s founders, alongside with winemaker Sam Kaplan, have decided to make their have permanent dwelling. With the obtain of the former Stonescape estate in Calistoga, this new star among the boutique Cabernet producers is subsequent a very similar path in hoping to established itself up for a generational operate.

The 17-acre property on Azalea Springs Way, at the foundation of Diamond Mountain and a neighbor to Checkerboard Vineyards, was formerly owned by Norman and Norah Stone, a rich San Francisco–based couple with a notable artwork assortment. The residence dates to the 1880s and had been bought by the Stones in 1991. They renovated the two original residences on the web-site and put in vines by 2001. The 2020 wildfires took a person of the properties, but the next still stands. Also on the property is a 5,750-square-foot hydro-heated cave crafted especially to property great art.

 Exterior of the art cave on the former Stonescape estate, built into a wooded hillside and framed by dark wood

Compared with many hillside caves in Napa, this just one was initially designed to dwelling an art collection in temperature-controlled circumstances, not wine. (Jak Wonderly)

The buy was completed at the stop of 2022. Kaplan—along with entrepreneurs Hayes Drumwright, Adam Craun and Adriel Lares—will increase some new plantings to convey the vineyard up to practically 5 acres. The staff also programs to incorporate a small winery and hospitality facility. (The wines are at the moment produced at the Arkenstone facility on Howell Mountain).

Obtaining the estate in the now overheated Napa Valley serious estate market was a coup in and of by itself: The house experienced only been shown for a day ahead of the offer was struck.

“We have some upgrading to do, but it is a good foundation to develop on,” suggests Kaplan, 47, who has been with the project considering the fact that it commenced in 2010. “When you are acquiring grapes, you never ever know when and if you may possibly lose your source for any number of good reasons. So getting our possess estate for Memento Mori is so thrilling for us. It’s a end result of our journey due to the fact we begun collectively.”

Memento Mori’s generation at present stands at 2,000 cases, sourcing grapes from some of Napa’s greatest-profile vineyards, these kinds of as Beckstoffer Dr. Crane and Beckstoffer Las Piedras, along with Oakville Ranch, Vine Hill Ranch and Weitz. There is a flagship red built from a blend of the web sites, together with modest tons of personal vineyard bottlings.

 The new Memento Mori vineyard with two palm trees in the foreground

The previous Stonescape winery encompasses two blocks planted to unique clones of Cabernet Sauvignon the Memento Mori workforce will plant a 3rd block. (Jak Wonderly)

The new estate’s vineyards involve a block planted in 2001 to the Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 4, which is classically structured and has a distinguished cassis profile. A next block, planted by Mike Wolf in 2014, employs the fragrant and expressive Clone 169. Kaplan is presently working to transform the present parcels to natural and organic farming tactics, working with vineyard manager Jim Barbour. The Stonescape fruit experienced long gone to Harlan Estate, among other individuals along the way, but beginning with the 2023 classic, it will be retained for its own committed bottling (likely about 500 scenarios).

Kaplan also options to plant a 3rd block on the web site, which features volcanic soils marked with cobblestones and wonderful gravel. “The opportunity to operate with a new vineyard is so interesting,” claims Kaplan, who also will make the wines for Arkenstone, Vida Valiente, Vangone and his own Maxem label. “I’m chomping at the little bit to get heading with it.”

 Portrait of winemaker Sam Kaplan outside at the new Memento Mori estate

Memento Mori’s founders identified winemaker Sam Kaplan as a result of his early Arkenstone wines. (Jak Wonderly)

Due to the fact its debut, Memento Mori (a reminder of one’s mortality, a Latin expression that the vineyard founders interpret as “don’t forget to live”) has quietly established an spectacular keep track of file for its wines. Obtaining a legitimate dwelling foundation for the task demonstrates that the proprietors are committed to establishing it even more. It is the kind of compact operation that is genuinely encouraging to gasoline Napa Valley’s future, even as the significant players—such as LVMH and Gaylon Lawrence, Jr.—gain the headlines when they make a purchase in the region.

“It’s exciting to consider about the next 15 many years,” says Craun, one particular of Memento Mori’s co-founders and entrepreneurs, standing amid a grove of towering redwoods on the residence. “We’re not Mondavis or Harlans. But now we can be a component of building the legacy of Napa as well, in our personal little way.”