A Legend All Its Own

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We areProducers of great wines since 1999

Caldwell has a simple yet steadfast goal – to create sustainable, captivating, and superior quality wines.

Planted in 1982 and producing our own wine since 1999, Caldwell has been the grape source for some pretty heavy hitters over the years, including: Moone Tsai (Philippe Melka), Merus and Brion (Mark Herold), Pahlmeyer (Helen Turley), Patz and Hall, Joseph Phelps’s Insignia,  Stéphane Derenoncourt and a heap of others.

Our team, lead by John Caldwell and Marc Gagnon, brings a wealth of background experiences, enabling acquire a more holistic approach to winemaking and act more on instinct, rather than specific “textbook” winemaking rules. We’ve learned how to understand what to expect from the specific vintage’s grape varieties and to let go of expectations in order to go with the natural evolution of the grape’s natural tendencies.

With this minimalistic approach and clear high-quality standard in mind, the most important pillar of our process remains the quality of the grape. This quality standard yields a consistency that makes for sustainable, captivating, and superior wines.

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01Our Philosophy

As with most things here at Caldwell, we do it a little differently. First off, everything we make (other than our Smuggler Pinot Noir) is crafted from fruit grown in our own vineyard, which means we’re a true estate. Every wine – white and red alike – is fermented and aged in 100% French oak barrels. We’re also the first winery in the U.S. with our own barrel cooperage and full-time Master Cooper (only 34 people in the entire world hold this title).

02Our Technique

They say great wine is made in the vineyard, which is absolutely true – and the reason we’ve got our own full-time vineyard crew. Having our own team means we get to control every step of what happens in the vineyard – from pruning to picking – exactly when and how we want. We always do a pre-dawn harvest and bring the fruit straight into the cave for processing. We hand sort everything to remove any imperfect berries and MOG (material other than grapes), and put the whole berries straight into oak barrels for fermentation. We add dry ice on top of the grapes to create a CO2 barrier, to slow fermentation and extract every last nuance from the grapes. We whole-cluster barrel-ferment for an average of 30 days, a bit longer than most. And finally, we press the wine and pour the juice back in barrel so it can age in oak until it’s perfectly ready for blending and bottling.

We have an on-site lab for doing analysis – which gives us the information we need during every step of the process and allows us to make micro-adjustments as we go, to ensure every wine is in perfect balance. And as if that weren’t crazy enough, we also have our own bottling line, which means we bottle on our schedule, and not someone else’s. These are the details that separate the mice from the men when it comes to quality, and we wouldn’t do it any other way.

ExploreOur Story

In the beginningWhat is now the 123-acre Caldwell Vineyard estate was originally owned by the Kreuzers, a Swiss-German family who purchased the property in 1876. Intending to start a new cattle ranch, the family built the original farmhouse in the traditional salt-box architecture. It was only four rooms to begin. In 1907 they added the second story and the dormer, making the farmhouse into more of a Victorian-styled home.
The Smuggler claims his spotBy the time John bought the property in 1974, the main house was in bad disrepair. Alvina Kreuzer had moved to another property a short distance away on Kreuze Canyon Road, and had been renting out the main house to a group of five or six bona fide hippies. All the rooms were separated by tie-dyes … and the floors had rotted out so badly you could see most of the foundation.
The planting beginsBy 1983, John had the time to start remodeling the main house. It was logged in the historic registry of Napa by 1984. John’s parents, Jack and Alma, moved into the main house around 1986, and the horse barn blew down in a storm in 1989. In 1993, Alma decided to remodel the cheese barn so she and Jack could move in there together and live on the property.
Caldwell "Silver" launchesIn 1997, John and Joy hired Philipe Melka to make their first wine, Caldwell “Silver” Proprietary Red, as a blend of the best blocks of fruit from the vineyard. Once he'd gotten a sense for the quality of the vineyard, John was finally ready to get serious about making wine, and so he dug a 20,000-foot wine cave in 2002.
Marbue Marke's moment in historyMarbue Marke joins the Caldwell team to take over the entire winemaking program
Marc Gagnon Joins as WinemakerHe can build a computer, fix a Porsche engine, is unabashed in his earth-minded proclivities, and has made his fair share of ridiculously high-scoring wines for the likes of Screaming Eagle and Bryant Estate. With a work ethic that rivals Jesus Espinoza (our Vineyard Manager of 27 years), Marc is smart, talented, and a whole lotta fun. No doubt about it, our new winemaker is nothing short of a modern Renaissance man, of the highest order.

The Vineyard

Six hundred feet above the Napa Valley floor in Napa’s southern-most appellation, our 123-acre estate boasts steep hillsides, rolling oak meadows, and rows of grapevines framed by mountain ranges on either side. This is our home. It is a spectacular place to view the world and an exceptional place to grow Bordeaux wine varieties. Our proximity to San Pablo Bay, and geographic situation in the bowl of an ancient volcanic caldera, give us the coolest ambient temperatures and longest growing season in Napa Valley. The volcanic soils, where our roots grow deep, impart distinctive minerality and undeniable character in our wines. As they say, great wine starts in the vineyard. In this case it couldn’t be more true.

Caldwell Vineyard is a 123-acre vineyard estate with 62 acres planted to 27 different grapevine clone and varietal combinations, a significant portion of which is the original certified ENTAV-INRA clones from France. In addition to making 21 of our own wines, our vineyard has been the source for some of Napa’s most revered Cabernet for other wineries and winemakers, including Moone Tsai (Philippe Melka), Merus and Brion (Mark Herold), Pahlmeyer (Helen Turley), Patz and Hall, Joseph Phelps’s Insignia, Stéphane Derenoncourt and a heap of others.

MeetOur People

Wine & friends are a great blend.
~Ernest Hemingway

We believe that the key to successful winemaking is teamwork, and we have assembled a team with unmatched experience and passion.
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Marc Gagnon

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Estate Manager

Mario Moreno

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Master Cooper

Ramiro Herrea