Vinum Cellars is run by two winemakers, Richard Bruno and Chris Condos who met when they were both studying at UC Davis. They are certainly not the first Napa winery to start after meeting while studying at Davis! This winery produces varietals not often found from Napa based wineries including Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, Grenache & Mourvedre. All fruit for their wines come from vineyards they have locked up in long term contracts.
Sourcing from the same vineyards builds consistency and overtime the winemaker becomes familiar with the type of fruit produced from each vineyard. To be fair, most of this fruit does not come from the Napa Valley, rather it is sourced among other varietals from 10 vineyards in California ranging from Santa Barbara in the south to El Dorado County in the north (Sierra Nevada foothills). However, this is done for a reason. Both winemakers feel that specific teroirs best represent specific varietals and the Napa area is certainly not the premium growing region for a number of the varietals that they produce.
Napa is synonymous with Cabernet Sauvignon and they do make a Napa Cabernet. They are open to experimenting with different types of yeast and typically use specific strains of yeast based on the actual varietal. Their white wines are aged sur lie which help create bigger mouth feels and more complexity to the flavors. They stress skin contact during their fermentations – only open top fermentors are used, punch downs are all conducted by hand and the grapes go through extended maceration before the juice is pressed out. Their focus is on the varietal characteristics and older French Oak barrels are used.
They have scoured California for the best growing regions for each of their varietals. One of their vineyards in El Dorado County is organically grown by someone who also grows stone fruits (peaches, apricots etc). This farmer ensures his vineyards and crops are carefully managed and it is vineyards such as this one that helps this winery stand out.
The one vineyard they source from in the Napa Valley is located in the far north of the valley near the town of Calistoga. This vineyard supplies the grapes for their delicious Cabernet Sauvignon Rose. This is an affordable easy drinking wine with flavors of raspberry, strawberry, and cherry. It is a soft wine and the finish has hints of red cherry and spices.
All their wines were made at the famous Napa Wine Co in the heart of the Napa Valley in Rutherford. You can even taste an array of their wines at the Cult Tasting Room at Napa Wine Co. Currently they make their wines at Maxville Lake Winery in Chiles Valley. Their wines are priced extremely reasonable when you think about the fact that they are all hand made in fairly low quantities. At the time of this review, their Chenin Blanc is a steal at under $20/bottle! Visit: www.vinumcellars.com
Note: this review has been identified as needing a *major* update.