May 18, 2015
Cuvaison is an iconic brand in Napa Valley and producer of beautifully crafted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Lesser known about Cuvaison is its ties to Mt. Veeder's Brandlin family; its green initiatives and commitment to the environment; and state of the art tasting room in the heart of their Carneros vineyards. Discover two incredible wineries in one very cool story!
For many years, Cuvaison has been regarded as an iconic winery and brand in Napa Valley, consistently producing beautifully balanced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Located in the Carneros AVA (American Viticultural Area), the winery was originally founded in 1969 and purchased ten years later by the Schmidheiny family of Switzerland. At the time of purchase, the Carneros region was little known for grape growing and the newly acquired 400 acres was pastureland. Today, Cuvaison’s 250 acres “under vine” produce a portfolio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah – all world class wines thanks to Carneros’ cool bay breezes and fog unique to the growing area. The majority of the winery’s staff has held long tenures; Jay Schuppert, the President and CEO of the winery, has been with Cuvaison for 17 years. The family itself reinvests all profits back into the business for its long term success – both testaments to the Schmidheiny family and its values.
Two lesser known facts about Cuvaison are their ties to Napa Valley’s Brandlin family and commitment to sustaining the environment through various initiatives.
In 1998, Cuvaison purchased a historic Mount Veeder property owned by Chester Brandlin. Located on a 1,200 foot ridgeline – this is one of Napa Valley’s most difficult but acclaimed mountain regions for grape growing. Dating back 140 years when the immigrant Swiss family first moved to Napa, they purchased various mountain properties instead of land on the Napa Valley floor; they began growing grapes as early as the 1870s. In the 1920s, Henry Brandlin purchased this estate and started planting zinfandel which are still producing great wines almost 90 years later. Cuvaison purchased the property from Henry’s son, Chester, who was very involved in grape growing until the age of 89 when he passed. It’s hard to believe, but after so many years of growing grapes on Mt. Veeder, the Brandlin family never produced a bottle of wine with their family name on a label. As a tribute and to pay homage to the family, the Mount Veeder wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon, a proprietary red Bordeaux style blend and two zinfandels – are marketed as an independent label called Brandlin Vineyards.
Both estate vineyards, Carneros and Brandlin, are certified Napa Green, meaning the company has been recognized for their work in reducing the impact on the environment. Both estates are certified sustainable, practice Fish Friendly Farming and the winery/tasting room have Bay Area Green Business certification. The winery is solar powered producing 85% of their power use; they have invested in a very sophisticated water recirculation/conservation program; and they spearhead a cork recycling program where wine club members and neighboring wineries bring their popped corks to be grinded for repurposing.
Winery Visits & Tasting Experiences
The staff at Cuvaison is dedicated to providing winelovers with a unique tasting experience at their recently built tasting room in the heart of their estate. Their original vision for the structure was to place their guests where they could get a true sense and appreciation for the vineyards and the picturesque, rolling hills of Carneros. All visitors enjoy sweeping, 270 degree views with 22 feet floor to ceiling windows all while enjoying a 2-in-1 tasting experience with both Cuvaison and Brandlin wines. Together, Cuvaison’s emphasis on lifestyle and celebration and Brandlin’s focus on exploration and discovery make for one unforgettable Napa Valley experience!