Afterwords Wine was founded by Anton & Lisa Van de Plas with their inaugural release in 2019. Anton was born and raised in the Netherlands; while at college he started the Tilburg Foreign Lawn Review, a student-run law journal. This led to his founding of Vandeplas Publishing, a publishing practice, focusing on legal textbooks for law students but also books on government policy and business (both print and e-books). While living in the Netherlands he visited the U.S. several times, ultimately deciding he wanted to move to the states. He recalls he traveled with only two suitcases, one containing books and one containing clothes. He settled in Florida; while attending a horse show in Tampa he met Lisa for the first time. Born and raised in Elmira, New York (incidentally the birthplace of Tommy Hilfiger and the final resting place of Mark Twain), her mother introduced her to horses at a very young age. Based on her passion for horses and riding, she and Anton published an equestrian magazine from 1998 to 2003.
Anton’s interest in wine began when he enrolled in a 26 week course offered by the International Guild of Sommeliers in Orlando. He remembers this was a very hands on class with numerous blind tastings. Looking to further his education he started traveling to various wine regions in California. Eventually he suggested to Lisa that they move to California. She agreed. They relocated to Napa Valley in 2012 and since then, have both worked for a number of wineries.
While continuing to publish law books, they chose the name Afterwords to reflect the eventual transition from a career in publishing words to now producing wines in Napa Valley.
They were introduced to their winemaker Julien Fayard through one of Lisa’s friends who used to work in hospitality at Covert Estate. Anton & Lisa began purchasing wines bottled under his own brands; sometimes they even enjoyed wines from other brands without first knowing that Julien had crafted them. His style and palate matches their own.
Transitioning from passionate consumers to Napa Valley vintners is a big step, even for a micro producer – and is a learning process. One has to secure bottles, capsules, corks, labels and all the licensing and then what many vintners will admit, the most challenging part, making sales. Afterwords is primarily sold direct to consumer through their website. Those interested in purchasing wines can sign up for their mailing list; list members are then provided an allocation of each of their red wines.
We were looking forward to trying the Afterwords inaugural red wine bottlings but discovered a sleeper wine, their beautiful rosé. But we should not have been surprised considering Julien’s background and history of producing exceptional rosé bottlings. The 2022 Afterwords PREFACE California Rosé is primarily Syrah with a small amount of Grenache in the blend – both varieties are from Amador County. This wine is pale copper in color; the bouquet is lively and minerally offering aromas of an orange peel zest, rose petals, raspberries and as it opens it reveals scents of citrus blossom. Balanced, flavorful and vibrant this bottling offers flavors of mandarin orange, a hint of Ruby grapefruit, wild strawberries and white peaches. It’s texture is rounded and gentle. The grapes for this wine were grown specifically for this bottling (rather than bleeding off). And it did not go through any secondary fermentation. Preface refers to an introduction or a prelude to, a wine to be savored before tasting their more robust reds.
The 2021 Afterwords NARRATIVE Proprietary Red Blend is a blend of about equal parts Merlot from the Barking Dog Vineyard in Coombsville and Cabernet Sauvignon from Calistoga. Vineyard sources may change but this bottling will always be a red blend. This wine is deep ruby with purple hues and is opaque in the glass; the bouquet offers an intriguing fragrance that is simultaneously focused on fruit, floral and influences from its barrel aging. It offers scents of dark plum, blackberry, cherry, boysenberry and violets and as the wine evolves in the glass it reveals a subtle note of dried herbs including sage. Deeper in the aromas are some notes of mocha, espresso and chocolate, The palate somewhat mirrors the bouquet with intense flavors of plum, dark cherry and black raspberry. A savory note appears on the finish including crushed peppercorn, dried herbs and a woodsy cedar nuance. The juicy finish lingers with a drying character and broadly distributed, grainy, gritty and persistent tannins. The focus here is clearly on the fruit, both on the bouquet and the palate. Narrative refers to connected events forming a story, in this case, a blend if you will of varieties and vineyard sources.
The 2021 EPILOUGUE Cabernet Sauvignon (100% varietal) was sourced from the Sleeping Lady Vineyard in Yountville. This wine is deep ruby, opaque and features an amaranthine rim. The dark and sweetly fruited aromas are immediately expressive revealing scents of boysenberry, mulberry and blackberry. There is also a floral tone here including of violets and rose petals. And as the wine opens further, it reveals additional notes of chocolate and light baking spices. The aromas are ripe but they never cross into the lane of being opulent. The palate is equally as well layered as the nose; it sports flavors of blackberry, plum, licorice and dark raspberry. The density of tannins are clearly felt with their firm and persistent grip, but their texture is rounded. They offer a certain weight without being too heavy. The finish shows an influence of both oak and grape tannins accompanied by a darker tobacco spice. Epilogue refers to a finish or concluding event. And in a nod to Anton’s heritage, from personal experience, this wine pairs extremely well with aged gouda (the more calcium lactate crystals in the cheese the better).
And in 2023, they signed a long term lease for 9 rows of grapes from Beckstoffer’s Georges III Vineyard in Rutherford.
Maison Fayard, Napa
With no employees, either Anton or Lisa will host tastings of their wines. Visits are held at Maison Fayard; this space opened on September 23, 2023. The previous tenant was Engel & Volkers; after they vacated the premises the space was remarkably renovated and completed in about 3 weeks – perhaps some sort of record for shortest amount of time needed to convert an existing space into a tasting room in downtown Napa. The interior remodel was overseen by Cruz Calderon (co-proprietor of Scalon Cellars). Artwork will rotate from time to time; the inaugural artist represented was Laurie Shelton, also proprietor of CAMi Vineyards (known for her paintings of colorful cows).
Maison Fayard is a collection of wines produced by Julien Fayard including wines under his own ownership (Julien Fayard, Purlieu, Just Pink, Les Vins Julien and Covert Estate). Most of the brands he makes wine for are from Napa Valley but there are several producers whose focus is non Napa Valley wines. This collection is diverse including varieties and price points. The interior is partly a bottle shop and a tasting space with a private room located upstairs for more intimate tasting. Maison Fayard is located at 1408 2nd Street in downtown Napa.
This part of 2nd Street (between Franklin & School streets, sometimes locally referred to as SoFi – south of First Street) has seen as much of a renaissance as any other part of downtown. One of Fayard’s nearby wine neighbors, Gamling & McDuck were one of the very first businesses part of this burst of energy brought to this part of the city. It’s a hip and happening place to hang out, especially on the weekends and features a variety of welcoming shops including tasting rooms.
Anton and Lisa chose the image of a book owl to represent their wines, an homage to their history of publishing. And while the text on the white label provides some texture, its words describe the meaning of Afterwords.
Total production is less than 300 cases per year with each wine under 100 cases. They will grow slowly and organically as needed but prefer to keep their production small. One retail client is The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection in Park City, Utah. For more information, visit: www.afterwords.wine
LIV & WELL, Napa
In May 2023 Lisa opened LIV & WELL, a women’s boutique store in a small space at 606 Main Street in downtown Napa near the Napa River. This space is open seven days a week. In addition to women’s fashion, she also offers a selection of skincare, home goods, and wine country accessories including books.
Sometimes she uses the shop after hours to host private clients and has partners with winemakers for other fashion + wine events. And occasionally she will treat shoppers to the Afterwords rosé. For more information, visit: www.livandwell.shop