It is my wholehearted belief that the best wines start in the vineyard, that the quality of the grapes and how they were sourced matter above all else. This is why I hunt and search for vineyards owned by individuals and family farmers with minimally invasive viticultural practices in place. This hunt has led me to source fruit from a few different and unique corners of Northern California wine country growing regions. Regions that might be more obscure and less recognized, but nowhere near lacking in character and quality. It is very fulfilling to help illuminate and shine a light on these off the beaten path regions with my wines. Everything I bring in from the vineyard is done by hand in small lots to preserve each vineyard’s character and to let the grapes tell their own story throughout fermentation and aging. I pride myself in fresh, clean and low intervention winemaking practices which in turn, culminate into a hand-crafted true and honest representation of sunlight, soil and a little bit of magic.
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The varietal: Viognier, pronounced (Vee-own-yay) is a grape varietal that is widely planted across the Rhöne region of Southern France. It is a later ripening white varietal with bright aromatics, full body and minerality.
The vineyard: The Outsider was sourced from a family vineyard located on the sediment rich clay and loam soils of the eastern bank of the Sacramento River in the Clarksburg AVA. The climate in this region is warm throughout the day which lets the grape clusters bask in the sun and heat in order to develop full ripeness. Those warm days turn into cool nights with maritime breezes moving inland from the Pacific Ocean in the west, causing early morning fog that lingers well into mid-day throughout the low-lying Sacramento River delta basin. This daily “warm days into cool nights” effect causes a perfect diurnal shift in temperature that allows the grapes to evenly ripen while also retaining their crisp acidity and freshness.
The wine: The Outsider Viognier was my first attempt at making a white wine. White wine making is more intricate, requires more attention to detail and most importantly, requires expensive tank cooling equipment to keep fermentation temperatures low and slow. A worthy challenge for a young, penny pinching winemaker just launching his company. I bought this half ton of Viognier during harvest intending for it to be solely a learning experience. I was fully expecting to make a mistake, take notes on where I went wrong and write the wine off completely. The grapes were picked early in the morning, I loaded the half ton on my pick up truck and hauled them back to Napa where I immediately crushed, pressed and racked the juice into a sealed stainless steel tank. I then dropped the thermostat in the small room to “cold as hell” and crossed my fingers. I wrestled with temperature control every single day during the 35 days it took to fully ferment. I then transferred the wine into a neutral French oak barrel and opted not to do a secondary or “malolactic fermentation” so as to not impart a hefty, creamy mouthfeel. I made sure to minimize oxygen exposure throughout every step of the process by using inert gases and airtight vessels in order to preserve the delicate aromatics this varietal provides. Aged for 5 months in a single neutral French oak barrel before bottling un-fined and unfiltered. The end result was mistake free and much to my delight, turned out to be a light and bright white wine full of pronounced tropical aromatics, fleshy pear and citrus notes with crisp acidity.
The Label: The label design is a tribute to my love of 60s era film and advertising posters with big bold lettering, bright and vibrant color schemes that compliment the tropical and bright flavors found in the wine. Palm trees and a classic car found on this label also pay homage to growing up in South Florida and my Cuban American heritage. Calling it "The Outsider" also has a few meanings behind it. 1.) An outsider is somebody who is thought to have little chance at success. I consider myself a Napa outsider and relish the challenge to work my way up and become a contender. 2.) The Viognier grape is very much an "outsider" varietal, it is more obscure and is not widely planted. Viognier is not expected to overthrow Chardonnay as the king of white varietals anytime soon, in this aspect once again, Challenge Accepted! 3.) This wine is tropical, vibrant and refreshing, making it the perfect wine to be enjoyed outside on your front porch, by the pool or even on your next outing to the beach or local lake.
The varietal: Tempranillo, pronounced (tehm/prah/NEE/yoh) is the “Noble Grape” of Spain. It is widely planted throughout the entire country, most notably in the regions known as “La Rioja” and “Ribera Del Duero”. The grape gets it’s name from the Spanish word “Temprano” which translates in English to “Early” and it’s a fitting name as Tempranillo is usually the first grape varietal to fully ripen quickly in Spain’s Mediterranean warm and arid climate.
The vineyard: The Squire was sourced from a family estate vineyard located in the rolling hills of the Carneros region of Napa Valley. Carneros is located in Southern Napa just a stones throw from the San Pablo Bay. The immediate proximity to the bay allows easy access for maritime breezes to channel through the vineyards, as well as a perfect place for early morning fog to roll in and sit well into the mid-day. The fog influence makes this region infamous for growing the more delicate Burgundian varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay which thrive in cooler conditions. This cooler climate in Carneros causes the Tempranillo to hit the "snooze button" and ripen slower, allowing for more time on the vine into the later months of fall. The result is a more evened out balance of intensity, flavor and structure. Tempranillo can be hard to find and source in Napa as it is not widely planted in the region, making this Tempranillo a rare and limited treat!
The wine: 2018 was the year I set out across the country to chase my winemaking dream. This Tempranillo was made while I was working my first harvest as a “winemaker in training” at a small family estate vineyard in Carneros. While learning and making this wine at the family estate, I gained a wealth of knowledge on how to “let the grapes and terroir do the talking”. I used minimal winemaking techniques as well as rustic and artisanal wine production methods to coax the subtle and elegant varietal characteristics out of this wine. These grapes were picked late into October in the waning stages of the 2018 harvest, fermentation lasted for about 8 days with punch downs and pumpovers throughout in order to extract color and structure. It was then aged for 18 months in French oak (25% new) with a portion of American oak aging as well. The finished wine features notes of dark red fruits, tobacco, a hint of vanilla and baking spice with silky soft tannin and bright acidity.
The Label: The Squire features a regal horse ridden by a knight in armor with a grape cluster on his shield. I love the the idea of horses and their daring free spirit, I consider myself a "wine maverick" or a rebel horse who refuses to be tamed and continuously bucks the normal pre-concieved notions of wine trends and snobbery. This Tempranillo is a nod to Cervantes and the Don Quixote story. Enter Pablo Antonio Suarez, a young and eager winemaking squire on a mission to raise the Tempranillo grape and himself into Napa Valley Nobility!