Grape Collective talks with Emmanuel Kemiji about his winemaking journey and his passion for Spanish wine.
Dan Petroski, winemaker and owner of Massican, which makes only whites in Napa Valley, has one of the most fertile minds we’ve come across in our 50 years of enjoying and studying wine. But when we heard about his latest project, even we had to say: What the Falanghina? Essentially, the idea is this: What if he asked other vintners to create a wine that would fit under the Massican style umbrella? Considering that winemakers have such individual passions, this seems a bit out there.
We were recently gifted Napa: Behind the Bottle, a wonderful book of photographs in which Bill Tucker depicts the owners, winemakers, and workers of Napa's iconic family wineries and vineyards at the end of the 20th century. The first of these photographs are of Robert and Margrit Mondavi.
(Corison Winery, Napa, courtesy of Cathy Corison, the first woman winemaker/proprietor in Napa Valley. Photo credit: Bob McClenahan Photography)
The Mondavis are legends in the development of the California wine industry. Robert is viewed by many as instrumental in putting Napa Valley on its path to greatness, and both Margrit and Robert were known for the artistic sensibility that enveloped their love of wine, food, and the arts. In her preface to Napa: Behind the Bottle, Margrit noted that "This book is a collection of the passionate, good people that made the Napa Valley famous for its great wineries. Looking at these amazing faces, you understand that as Robert Mondavi said, 'Making good wine is a skill. Fine wine is an art.'" The "good people" photographed by Bill Tucker were associated with Napa's top wineries, as is further evidenced by their inclusion in James Laube's Wine Spectator's California Wine (1999) and Jim Gordon's Opus Vino (2010).
The Case Study
In light of the recent attention being given to changes in Napa Valley, we used the 87 wineries in Tucker's book as the basis for a case study of (a) wineries that have had a change in ownership since 2000, (b) who now owns these wineries, and (c) which of these wineries currently have a winemaker who is a woman.
We found that 83 (95%) of these wineries were independently family-owned in 2000, and in most cases by the founding family owners. By 2022, 64 (74%) of the wineries were still owned by the same family. Thus, 19 wineries (22%) had experienced a change in ownership since 2000 and are...
- Winiarski compares his time at Souverain and Robert Mondavi Winery to climbing ever-taller peaks. “They were my guided lesser peaks, and Ivancie was my attempt at a solo.”
- "There are many ways to help wineries, but the easiest is simply to buy their wines or drink what you have and get more. That’s what we have been doing every night." Dorothy J. Gaiter & John Brecher
- "But thinking about Napa gives us and millions of others warm feelings because many of us have had some of the best times of our lives there. Just because we can’t go to Paris right now doesn’t mean we can’t look at pictures of the Eiffel Tower and dream about the day we can."
- "We have to produce good wines, at least us little guys, because we can't just live off this big Napa reputation — we have to keep advancing it." -Tom Gamble
- "I've gone out to do tastings, public pourings, and people have thought it was an actual abbey and that I'm one of the monks! I hate to disappoint them." -Ted Edwards, winemaker at Freemark Abbey
- "We’ve seen so many fine wineries become virtual bulk-wine producers after being bought by big companies." Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher on the sale of Napa winery Stony Hill Vineyard
- "There’s something special about Sancerre. It has a confidence and depth that seem wise, even as it retains that lemon-lime, acidic, mineral-rich crispness that defines good Sauvignon Blanc." Dorothy J. Gaiter