Castellucci Napa Valley was founded with their 2012 inaugural release. The story starts when as a child, Antonio Castellucci moved to Argentina from Calabria, Italy. Eventually he moved to San Francisco in 1971 where he did not yet speak English. Taking a class in real estate to both learn English and become savvy in the art of property development – he soon founded (in 1972) what would become a highly successful San Francisco Bay Area based real estate company (Home Realty Investments). Branching out to Napa Valley he and his wife Rita initially purchased property in Carneros which included a vineyard and a second home.
Castellucci Wines is a family run business operated by brother and sister, Maria and Marco – both of whom grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now live in the Napa Valley.
The family owns 50 acres of vineyards in Napa Valley from Spring Mountain to Rutherford (next to the Silverado Trail and Zinfandel Lane – and a potential site for a future winery) and a vineyard in St. Helena (home of their Merlot). Rather than hire an outside vineyard management company to manage their vines, Marco oversees several employees and manages the vines in house. They continue to sell grapes to select wineries. Maria oversees the business operations of both their wines and their various properties. And in addition to helping oversee her family’s real estate holdings, Maria is also an author. In 2023 she published a children’s book titled, Vivienne in Paris.
Before Castelluci Wines was founded, Antonio randomly met long time winemaker Jac Cole at an event in the Napa Valley. Jac has enjoyed a well-regarded career in the Napa Valley – formerly winemaker at Spring Mountain Vineyards and Charles Krug among others. Today he consults for several Napa wine brands and also consults for Corona del Valle Winery, based in Mexico’s Baja California. Antonio was impressed with Jac’s pedigree and invited him to become their winemaker; Jac has been the winemaker since their inaugural release of 2012. Rather than release wines within the typical two-to-three-year release window of many wineries, they elect to hold on to the wines – giving them additional age.
Looking to add a white wine to accompany their red wines, they turned to Clarksburg, located along the Sacramento River in Yolo County for sourcing both Chenin Blanc and Viognier. Finding that the Chenin Blanc stood on its own decided to produce a 100% varietal Chenin Blanc (instead of blending in Viognier) – the first two vintages are labeled white wine (as they ordered the labels prior to the final decision on blending).
The 2016 Castellucci Napa Valley Lucia (meaning ‘white’ in Italian) White Wine is pale straw color yellow in the glass; the aromatics are inviting including a floral nuance along with pineapple. Superbly balanced on the palate with a pleasing texture – rounded but not overly soft helped in part by the lively acidity. Notes of citrus, mineralities and intense flavor linger for some time. Drinks very well by itself. And in an interesting wine making historical footnote, as an amateur winemaker Jac made Chenin Blanc back in the 1960’s and entered it in a competition at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and earned a medal for his efforts.
The 2012 Castellucci Napa Valley St. Helena Merlot is dark ruby color in the glass – shows a very elegant and delicate bouquet – with notes of red cherry, currants and aromas of cedar box and dust. Shows flavors of red cherry on the palate along with mouthwatering acidity. Lingers with a slight red cherry tartness, a touch of chocolate and well-integrated polished tannins.
The 2013 Castellucci Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon shows a ripe bouquet with a sweetness of fruit, cherry liqueur along with notes of brown sugar, chocolate and other dessert spices. Very pretty aromatically. Shows great acidity – a wine that leaves you salivating. Packing layers of flavor – the wine finish with moderate structure.
One can almost smell the soils of their Spring Mountain vineyard in the 2012 Castellucci Napa Valley Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Dusty initially as it breathes reveals floral aromas with higher toned fruits. Shows both red and dark fruit on the palate, lively and youthful with flavors of both red and dark cherry. Features a richness of flavor complemented by a long fine-grained tannin.
A hallmark of Jac’s wine making style we noticed on all the Castellucci wines we tried and that we wrote down for each wine is: balance + acidity. The wines are seamless in their presentation – no harsh edges and in their youth, are very approachable. And all wines are 100% varietal from single vineyards.
Ink House Inn
The Casteluccis purchased the historic Ink House and 1.25 acres located just south of St. Helena in 2014 and sold it in 2021 to Jean Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo (who are the current owners). Despite the change in ownership, we keep our notes here for historical reference. When the Castelluci’s acquired the property, there was the possibility that it was going to be a quick real estate investment, but as they began to dig through the layers of history, they realized they had something special on their hands. The house and property are listed on the National Register of Historic Places – the home was built in 1885 by Theron H. Ink for a cost of $10,000. The uppermost cupola was removed in the 1940s but has since been added back to the house. The original well on site was built by Chinese labor.
An article about Inkwell House from the Napa Register, dated September 14, 1963, indicates, “Perhaps someday Napa Valley’s Inkwell House will be the attraction it deserves to be, in the way the early American homes of New England are, as restored by the Colonial Dames”. Those wishful thinking words came true some 50+ years after this article was published. After several years of carefully restoring the home with the help of Howard Backen at Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects along with the beautiful interior design work of Sarahliz Lawson Design, the Ink House opened in January of 2018. Sarahliz’s work has been featured in a variety of publications including Luxe Magazine, Conde Nest Traveler and Travel and Leisure – this was her first project with Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects.
Theron was born in New York in 1831, was a schoolteacher for several years before migrating across the country on horse and wagon in 1852. He worked gold mines at Coloma Bar before settling in Napa Valley in 1853, working on Boon Fly’s Farm on Carneros Creek in what is now the Carneros District of southern Napa Valley. From being a schoolteacher to a prominent landowner in northern California happened fairly quickly. His land holdings were significant; at the height of ownership, he owned approximately 10,000 acres in Napa Valley primarily in Pope Valley), Lake County and Marin County and raised a variety of livestock. He also served in public office and was elected to the Board of Supervisors in the Yount District for three terms.
He owned vineyards in Rutherford and St. Helena and eventually built a winery in 1886 which had a capacity of 150,000 gallons. He also owned a sizable livery stable in St. Helena. Ink Grade Road on Howell Mountain (and Old Ink Grade Road) are both named for Theron Ink, in homage to the road he used to use to travel between his property in Pope Valley and properties on the main floor of Napa Valley. And in homage to his vineyard holdings and winemaking, the Ink Grade brand was started by Gaylon Lawrence rooted in a vineyard on Howell Mountain that originally was owned by Theron Ink.
Ink died in 1893 in what was the Crystal Springs Health Resort on Howell Mountain and is buried in at Cypress Hill Memorial Park in Petaluma in neighboring Sonoma County. His wife Harriett P. “Jane” Goodrich outlived her husband by nearly 40 years and died in 1932.
This property came with a coveted permit to operate as a Bed & Breakfast. The Ink House features 6 unique and luxurious rooms including the Elvis Room upstairs, where Elvis Presley stayed in 1960 during the filming of Wild in the Country (the Inn was a private home at that time). If Elvis were alive today, he wouldn’t recognize this room with its tidy era upgrades – although he would recognize the homage to himself hanging on the wall. This visually stunning space offers plenty of windows surrounding the room offering 360-degree views of the valley. Other named rooms pay tribute to people and place including the Theron Room, Harriet Room and the Helios Room.
And during his filming of this movie, Elvis also stayed at what was Casa Lual, built in 1953 and named after the first owner’s daughter Lucille and husband Allen. This property at 200 South Coombs Street is now the Wine Country Lodge.
The Inn sits on the old Helios Ranch (originally 50 acres) and used to be site of a duck pond and the grounds used to often flood during heavy rains. During Ink’s ownership a drainage system was implemented. The grounds are carefully manicured, with even with a small demonstration vineyard planted on site, a fruit orchard and 200 lavender plants.
The Ink House has had a number of owners over the years including at one time Napa Valley College president Dr. George Clark and his wife Lois. Subsequent owners included Ruby Kase (of Kase & Ferguson accounting firm) who added numerous antiques to the interior, the Castelucci family and now Jean Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo.
A stay here, simply put is not just time spent in a room, but through various ownership partnerships and connections, is a key to some of Napa Valley’s most unique, coveted and enjoyable experiences.
For more information about the Ink House visit: www.inkhousenapavalley.com
And as of 2018, the Castelluccis began remodeling the former Zinfandel Inn on nearby Zinfandel Lane. With just 3 rooms and located away from the highway – after the remodel completed, this is now a very private luxury experience for guests.
NOTE: it is possible that Castellucci may no longer be producing as vintages listed on their website are 7-9 years old. We will keep a close eye on this producer and will archive this review if we determine they are no longer producing wines.
Total production of Castellucci Wines is slightly more than 1000 cases annually. Locally you can find the wine at The Charter Oak in St. Helena and Bistro Don Giovanni just north of the city of Napa. For more information and to join the Castellucci Club, visit: www.castelluccinapavalley.com
The Ink House
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