A Visit to VIADER
Viader Winery is located atop the highly acclaimed Howell Mountain, which houses a number of celebrated vineyards. It is the brainchild of matriarch Delia Viader, who arrived in the Napa Valley a few decades ago from her native Argentina. The estate possesses a unique charm and a tasteful art collection, which includes a Buddha statue greeting the guests. Contemporary pieces, procured by Delia, are sprinkled throughout the estate. The view from the tasting room is breathtaking; the small valley, which ranges from 600 to 1,300 feet in altitude, creates a micro-climate ideal for Bordeaux varietals. Delia, who earned a PhD in Philosophy and later attended MIT and the business school at UC, Berkeley, fell in love with the property and acquired it in 1986.
The first release of wine from this 92-acre property was was in 1989. Currently, it has 28 planted acres. The vineyard is 100% farmed organically and it’s devoted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and a dose of Syrah. The winemaker is Delia’s son Alan Viader, who grew up in the winery and inevitably found a connection with wine. His journey has taken him through Bordeaux, Argentina and even a period were he consulted for a handful of projects. These days, he oversees not only the wine production but also the vineyards. “Controlling all aspects of the winery allows me to have a sense of time and place” Alan said. “We have a small team from production to tasting and sales, which allows us to be meticulous and oversee every aspect of our wine, which is all produced in the estate.”
A number of proven winemakers have shaped Viader Vineyards into what is now today. The list includes Tony Soter (Spring Mountain, Chappellet, Dalla Valle), Mia Cline (Spottswoode, Dalla Valle and her own Selene Wines) and Charles Hendricks (founder of Hope and Grace Wines) before Alan took over in 2006. The total production each year lingers around 4,500 cases, making it hard to come by. The highly coveted wine rarely sees retail distribution, concentrating on direct-to-consumer accounts.
On a recent visit, I had the pleasure of tasting some of the current releases, which created a perfect snapshot of the balance between the site, tradition and winemaking dedication of the family.
2016 Viader Napa Valley ($195) 81 barrels produced of this enticing blend composed of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon and 31% Cabernet Franc. A mountain fruit celebration led by crushed violets and fresh red roses, dried sage, cherry liquor both muscular and gentle with bear-hug tannins and stamina. A wine that is surprisingly ready to drink after a good decanting or worthy of aging for 10 to 15 years for that special occasion.
2016 Viader “Black Label” Napa Valley ($150) production is limited to a mere 33 barrels for this vintage. This wine is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Syrah, 14% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc. A remarkable blend that is a true testament for out of the box unexpected varietals in a Bordeaux blend. The Syrah adds a very welcome layer of spice and character from this site. This wine is driven by an exotic potpourri of purple flowers with black pepper, red fruit and an complex layer of scorched earth and clay notes. An electric finish with cleansing acidity and charisma. Ideally served with a 45-day, dry-aged tomahawk steak, simply spiced with salt and pepper.
Also Viader Vineyards is celebrating their Argentinian heritage with a Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blend called Homenaje ($150), 300 cases produced.
The Viader Vineyards experience is available by appointment only, located at 1120 Deer Park Road in Deer Park, is a fantastic piece of heaven worth visiting and furthermore enjoy the wines.