Avinodos was co-founded in 2012 by two individuals, Dan Dexter and Lorn Brambilia. Lorn’s father, Gustavo Brambila is their winemaker – one of Napa’s venerable and well regarded winemakers (nearly 40 vintages to date).
Dan met Lorn in San Francisco when both were working for a finance company. Working for finance was a big switch in Dan’s life as he grew up working on his family farm in Indiana where they grew corn and soy beans. While both were working in San Francisco Lorn invited Dan up to Napa to help with his family’s harvest. Having a familiarity and pull towards agriculture, Dan quickly became fascinated with the process of making wine.
Fortuitously the company he was working for closed their USA based operations. By this time Dan had caught the “wine bug” and proposed to Lorn they start their own wine brand.
They creatively decided on a name by combining several words in Spanish – as a tribute to Lorn and Gustavo’s heritage. And in addition choosing words that represent wine making – literally translated into Spanish, Avinodos means “To Wine Two” – in this case referring to the two partners making wine as well as Lorn being a second generation vintner.
When Dan talks about making the switch from working in finance to working in the wine industry you can almost hear him breath a sigh of relief. He says his new career choice “is not like work anymore – it becomes more of a lifestyle” – with the caveat of, “other than working at 2am during harvest”.
Gustavo and Lorn own a vineyard management company – currently managing about 80 acres in various parts of the Napa Valley. As a result, they have full control of the vineyards they source fruit from for Avinodos – essentially total control from vine to bottle.
Their first vintage of Sauvignon blanc is the 2012 – this wine shows gooseberry, notes of pear – sweet aromas of citrus blossom. The wine finishes clean and crisp with notes of green apple. It has very good acidity.
The 2013 Sauvignon blanc is from the exact same vineyard as the 2012 (Oak Knoll District) – but perhaps is a bit more complex of a wine. Aromatically it shows pleasing floral notes – aromas of citrus blossom. The mouth feel is clean – grapefruit, lemon with some mineralities. Again very good acidity but not bracing acidity – plenty of fruit keeps this wine in balance.
The 2014 Sauvignon blanc is from the same vineyard but from a different block where the soils are fairly chalky. It is interesting to note the noticeable differences in the vintages – this wine was pulled from a barrel sample.
Interestingly, they chose a 100% varietal single vineyard Malbec to be their first red wine release. The grapes for this wine were growing in a vineyard that Gustavo had never worked with and in his long tenure in the valley – and over the span of his wine making career, had never made a single vineyard single varietal Malbec. There are not many wineries in the valley making a 100% varietal Malbec.
The 2012 Malbec was sourced from Oak Knoll (towards the southern part of the Napa Valley). Aromatically it is an elegant nose – showing notes of sandalwood, darker liqueur (some sweet notes), cedar box aromas and a floral component – lavender. The tannins show delicately on the front of the palate and linger on the finish becoming more complex towards the back of the palate. As with all the wines we tried, both in bottle and in barrel – this wine has very good acidity.
The 2013 Malbec (barrel sample) is a different wine altogether – aside from being a year younger. It was sourced from the same vineyard blocks – but saw longer maceration. It is deep dark and brooding – with a robust structure. Notes of cedar show on the front of the palate (should dissipate as the wine ages and goes into bottle). This is a big wine with good age-ability.
Avinodos is a member of the Crusher Wine District – all member wineries are located in the business park along Kaiser and Napa Valley Corporate Drive just south of the city of Napa. There are both advantages and disadvantages to being this part of Napa – one of the big advantages is cost savings on land – the wineries here are production facilities and or production combined a hospitality element (no vineyards).
Most of the wineries here are very small production and work with family owned vineyards. A number of the wineries in this business park also have adjoining tasting room for appointment only visits including Avinodos’ own small nicely appointed tasting room where you can taste their own wines as well as wines under the Gustavo brand.
The Crusher Wine District holds special tastings quarterly – for one price you can visit any of the member wineries.
Several wines that have not yet been released at the time of this review are a Single Vineyard Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon and a single vineyard Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. All released wines are priced very reasonably based on quality.
For more information about Avinodos and to reserve an appointment, visit: www.avinodos.com