There is something to be said about learning from the past, applying it to today, and using that knowledge to chart your course for the future. This holds true for business practices as well as family traditions. In a recent bi-annual trip to Napa Valley to select The Tooting Otter’s upcoming wine additions, we found it also rings true in the heart of Napa and Sonoma Valleys—and for that matter, in winemaking overall.
Winemakers are rich with culture and purpose. Traditional family values lead that vision and passion. Their purpose is to cultivate an exceptional yield serving quality – not quantity. We found those values, connection to history and overall sustainability efforts led the charge throughout the valley.
The heart and soul of the region touched us, and we at Wekiva Island wanted to share some stories of the hardworking winemakers so that when you taste these wines at The Tooting Otter, you can truly understand their richness, their flavor, and the essence of what we learned on our journey.
Cade exudes history and purpose, from its stone building dating back to 1886 (with the original hitching post) to the environmentalist values it embodies today. Its bold, rich cabernets are sure to please!
Cade is committed to preserving its special spot atop Howell Mountain, so it’s certainly no mistake that its operations would reflect this important philosophy of environmental responsibility. It was with this goal in mind that those behind Cade designed Napa Valley’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified estate winery.
The LEED program is governed by the United States Green Business Council, and the measurement for recognition is based off five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, and indoor environmental quality. (With Wekiva Island’s LEED certified Classroom being the first and only building of its kind in Seminole County, we understand that commitment!)
The Wagner Family produced their first vintage in 1972, consisting of 240 cases of cabernet sauvignon. Now Caymus production yields 65,000 cases. Caymus Vineyards remains 100 percent family-owned by the Wagners. Farming grapes remains the priority, with the family farming about 350 acres of choice Napa Valley land.
In the beginning, the Wagners took the name Caymus from the Mexican land grant known as Rancho Caymus, given to George Yount in 1836, which encompassed what eventually became the town of Rutherford and much of the surrounding area.
Today, Wagner family members still gather in the lush gardens to taste the rich blends and ultimately decide what will get to be called Caymus. This is owner Mary Sue Weinaug’s personal favorite wine, and on our trip, the Weinaugs had the honor to taste the fruit at that same table under the shade of those same trees as the Wagners.
Clos Du Val
Clos Du Val was founded nearly 50 years ago with the vision of producing a world renown cabernet sauvignon. The winery’s inaugural cabernet was part of the group that topped French wines in the legendary 1976 Judgment of Paris blind tasting. Clos Du Val has since won first place. While those behind the winery are still incredibly focused on the growing and production of the world’s finest wines, history has taught them that the value of what they do is in the connections that wine allows with patrons, the vineyards, and history. It all combines to create a cultural richness that lends to the Clos Du Val experience.
Like the winery itself, the garden design of Clos Pegase combines classical elements with a modern California feel. Commitment to diversity, water conservation and the idea of responsible landscape design as living art is part of the winery’s overall vision and strategy. From the caves, to the artifacts throughout the property, Clos Pegase’s wine and vision tops the charts.
Paul Hobbs Winery
A recent visit to Wekiva Island from this California family winemaker was all it took. Matthew Hobbs was quick to select a piece of art in The Tooting Otter from an award-winning artist and Weinaug family friend, Mikel Wintermantel, noting that it must have depicted a wintery scene from upstate New York. Soon, both the Weinaug and Hobbs families came together in Napa Valley again to share stories from similar childhood traditions growing up in large families with the same values and culture.
Growing up on the family farm, Paul Hobbs learned the discipline of working the land by planting, harvesting crops, and selling them at nearby farmer’s markets before school each morning. One of 11 children, Paul helped his father achieve a lifelong desire to transform some of the farm’s acreage from apples, nuts and peaches to wine grapes. Today, the winery has seven estate vineyards in the most acclaimed regions in Napa Valley for growing pinot noir, chardonnay, and cabernet sauvignon.
The Miner Family Winery
This family wine is sure to deliver with an exceptional Wild Yeast Chardonnay and a rustic Napa Valley Cabernet. David Miner and his wife Emily established their Miner Family Wines in 1999. Tragically, in 2011 Emily suddenly passed away with lung cancer at a very young age, and Miner created “Emily’s” in her honor. It’s important to note that 10 percent of all sales are donated to The V Foundation for Cancer Research.
We are proud to introduce some of the Weinaug family’s personal favorites from these beautiful family wineries in the 2019 and 2020 lineup. Look for upcoming wine specials and a new wine menu in The Tooting Otter coming soon!