Alante Vineyard was founded by Bruno Van den Bosch and his wife Christine; they released their first commercial vintage in 2006. The story goes back much further however, to Belgium in fact. Bruno was in the computer industry in Europe and upon moving to California in 1986 he founded Alante Corporation in the Silicon Valley (specializing in refurbished HP computer components).
After deciding to move out of the Silicon Valley, and looking for a more rural location to manage his business Bruno stumbled upon what is now their property north of St. Helena in 1993 – it had a warehouse for running his business but the property also came with a planted vineyard. Starting in 1994 they sold fruit to other wineries but each year held back several barrels for their own private label.
Winemaker Paul Colantuoni is the son of good family friends. The story of how Alante started producing wine commercially is an interesting one – eventually fate intervened as neither Bruno nor Paul had any inclination they would be in the wine industry or working together one day. Paul in fact was on a career path towards medical school and decided to pursue winemaking after earning non wine related degrees.
Upon a whim Paul wrote a letter to Tim Mondavi (who at the time was still at Robert Mondavi Winery) – Tim answered back and ultimately gave him a job. As it turned out, an introductory wine job that would keep Paul in the valley year round was in Mondavi’s hospitality department, giving tours. Paul packed everything in a Ryder truck and made the long drive from the East Coast as well as a career change to the Napa Valley. He worked a number of years at Mondavi as well as at Neyers vineyard and then spent time winemaking in France and Italy. Upon returning to the states he discovered Bruno was making the jump to making wine commercially and needed a winemaker. Viola, it was the perfect fit at the perfect time.
The focus of Alante is one wine each year, an estate Cabernet Sauvignon from their 2.5 acre vineyard (planted to this varietal). The vineyard sits just north of the city limits of St. Helena and is on the edge of benchland – right where the alluvial soils from the valley floor meet the soils created by runoff from the Mayacamas Mountains. This is prime vineyard land – neighbors include Grace Family, Vineyard 29, and Revana Winery among others.
Over the years several prominent individuals in the valley have left their mark on the vineyard. David Abreu planted and maintained the vineyard for several years and winemaker Philippe Melka sourced fruit for several of his clients.
Hallmarks of this vineyard are a characteristic spice (crushed black pepper) a sweetness that comes from the fruit (no sugar), and pleasing soft tannins.
The 2006 vintage shows a lot of fruit on the bouquet with some notes of dust as the wine opens. The palate is soft upon entry but quickly builds up complexity and spices including black pepper (mid palate to the finish). Of the three vintages this wine has the most spice. The palate is all about the black fruit – blackberry and black licorice. The finish is of considerable length with medium bodied tannins.
2007 is a darker wine than the 2006 (more extraction during the winemaking). There’s more fruit in store on the bouquet – it certainly is not as spicy as the 2006 on the palate. A sweet core of ripe fruit runs through this wine as well as the 2008 vintage. Dark fruit shows including blackberry and black cherry.
2008 is an opulent wine for Alante. As Paul says, “the vineyard is a showoff”. This wine certainly reflects that – the bouquet is all about the fruit with traces of mineralities and graphite. Notes of raspberry and brown chocolate show on the palate – ripe fruit. The mouth-feel on this vintage is slightly softer than the 2007 vintage. Ripe fruit and ripe tannins complete the fairly soft finish.
A lot of thought has been put into their label. The label remains consistent but when grand children are born that vintage takes that grand child’s name. Alante is related to the Spanish word “adelante” (progress), usually pronounced “alante”.
Production each year typically ranges from 250 to 350 cases. As a result, distribution is mainly through the website although you can find the wine at ACME Fine Wines in St. Helena as well Press and Market restaurants. To order and for more information visit: www.alantevineyard.com