In the summer of 1994, while enjoying cocktails at the Mountain View Hotel bar, I made a prediction to my wife, and my brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Michelle. “Someday we will have a vineyard, a wine brand, and a winery.” I was 30 years old, had just gotten married, and was that confident/ignorant in making that prediction.
The winery turns 25 this year and I’m still not sure how we pulled it off. We worked tirelessly, and I do recognize that without a little luck sprinkled in, it might not have happened at all.
For goodness sake, my father and I started managing vineyards in 1986 with an old pickup and we both had a pair of pruning shears! We worked really hard but the onslaught of type 2 phylloxera meant that most of the vineyards in the Napa Valley needed to be replanted. As luck would have it, our business boomed.
In the fall of 1994, Dan Duckhorn offered to sell us our 40-acre estate vineyard that we had been developing for him since 1989. As a result of our hard work and have been lucky enough to work for Dan Duckhorn, we had grapes and land where we could build a winery in the future.
That same year, I had so much trouble delivering petite sirah grapes to a Rutherford winery, that I vowed I would make the wine from those grapes rather than sell them to that winery again. Then Bobby Barberis (my dad’s best friend from high school) gave us 5 tons of Petite Sirah, which became our inaugural 1995 Petite Sirah vintage. Talk about luck!
It seems like just yesterday that the adventure began, but it’s been an awesome journey from the start, and with a little luck we look forward to enjoying another 25 years.
“It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”- Ernest Hemingway
Chris Madrigal, Founder, President & Vintner