Mumm Napa (formerly Domaine Mumm) is a picturesque winery well worth visiting located on the west side of the Silverado Trail about 2 miles north of the Oakville Cross Road. The first vintage of Mumm was bottled under Domaine Mumm and dates from 1983; the first several vintages were produced at Sterling Vineyards prior to the winery at Mumm being built four years later.
Nearly 160 years after its parent company was founded in Reims, France, Mumm Napa was established with the construction of the winery in 1986/1987 overseen by founding President & Winemaker Guy Devaux (died in 1995). Guy was sent by G.H. Mumm to visit Napa Valley in 1976. He was instrumental in their early development and success; in fact, the Mumm Signature DVX is named in his honor with its first vintage dating from 1990. He was winemaker here from 1983 through 1987 with another prominent vintner, Rosemary Cakebread serving as the assistant winemaker.
Two stories of the winery were built below ground level against the hillsides of the Vaca mountains which extend west into the Rutherford appellation. The winery changed its name to Mumm Napa and opened to the public in 1990.
Visually Mumm Napa usually displays the first signs of the upcoming harvest in Napa Valley. If you happen to be here in midsummer look for their trademark plastic yellow bins stacked up outside the winery (referred to as cajas by Hispanic workers). As with other sparkling producers in the valley, their harvest always starts early compared to the still wine producers; in 2015 their harvest started on July 22nd which was among the earliest ever harvest in recent memory in the Napa Valley.
Mumm Napa Valley offers plenty of open-air parking with three individual staggered sections ranging from the upper, middle to lower lot.
Their specialty is sparkling wines with names like blancs, bruts, and cuvees. This is one of only four wineries in Napa Valley specializing in sparkling wines. However, they are located in Rutherford which is not an ideal climate for growing the primary three varietals for making sparkling wines – Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. As a result, their grapes come from the cooler southern San Pablo Bay influenced climate of Carneros including from their 110-acre leased Devaux Ranch Vineyard, parts of the Oak Knoll District and select other cool weather sites.
Mumm Napa Valley was originally a joint venture between G.H. Mumm and Seagrams but has been owned by several other parent companies over the decades including Diageo and Allied Domecq. Today Mumm Napa Valley is owned by Pernod Ricard, the parent company of G.H. Mumm in Champagne.
One-hour tours named, capturing the sparkle, are offered each day starting at 10am, 1pm & or 3pm (depending on the day). This is an excellent production behind the scenes tour in which guests learn about sparkling wine making techniques and get to see the machinery in action especially in parts of August and early September during crush. Meet Big Al, their large blending tank towering above all their other tanks and also BOB, their amazing robot which handles 36 bottles at one time with its suction cup “fingers”. BOB consistently wins employee of the month, and our human tour guide was quite bummed and up front about this!
As you begin you tour, you will be introduced to trellising on several rows of vines that mimics how vines are trellised in the Champagne region in France – which is very low to the ground. You rarely see these types of vines planted commercially in Napa Valley. The main reason for this low type of trellising is Champagne has a very cool growing climate and the vines are trained low to the ground to maximize the radiant soil heat.
Sparkling wine needs to be turned or “riddled” to move the dead yeast down to the end of the bottle where it can be eventually removed. Mumm has automated this entire process and their “riddling” room is quite a sight to see, especially if you are lucky enough to see the machines in action. Each machine, called a gyropalette holds 500 bottles on a hydraulic arm. Rather than taking up to 8 weeks to complete the riddling process if done by hand, this machine can complete this task in up to merely 8 days.
Their primary aging room features a capacity of over 1 million bottles. A large window overlooks this room from the main art gallery – visitors look down over upon sea of oak barrels.
A beautiful indoor tasting salon is surrounded by windows affording one excellent views of the outside vineyards. Tables are also setup outside (weather permitting) on their Oak Terrace (centered around a nearly 200-year-old impressive oak tree). Sit down, wait for your server and choose from several tasting flights ranging from the “Best of the Best” to their slightly sweet “Palate Pleaser”. Guests may also order a plethora of sparkling wines by the glass. Note the informative wine quotes under the coasters.
A small gift shop selling a variety of their sparkling wines (including some already chilled in a refrigerator), wine souvenirs and related clothing is located adjacent to the outdoor terrace.
Mumm Napa Valley is an especially popular destination on the weekends, regardless of the time of year but more so during summer and fall weekends. As a result, it is recommended to make reservations at least a week or more in advance.
Did you know that Mumm, a popular sparkling house has also produced several still wines? These have usually been released in the spring and are made from the same varieties used to make their sparkling wines (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris). Our favorite of the off dry wines is the Cuvee M Red, a sparkling bottling that captures delicious fruit flavors.
The Mumm Napa Brut Prestige; the latest bottling we tasted was in 2022 and is a blend of 45% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Gris & Pinot Meunier. This wine was primarily fermented in stainless steel tanks with a small percentage fermented in French oak barrels. It spent 18 months in tirage. This wine is pale yellow in the glass; the bouquet offers aromas of green apple, citrus blossom, light toast and some flinty minerality notes. The palate is crisp and very refreshing with bright acidity and flavors of honeycomb, lemon and pear. From personal experience, this bottling pairs perfectly with fried Shishito peppers fresh from the Resgusci Winery Garden cooked with Cimarossa olive oil, Mayacamas savory salt and a few drops of lemon juice.
The Mumm Napa Brut Rosé (tasted the latest bottling in 2022) is a multi-vintage blend of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay with a small amount of red wine added. This bottling is medium to deep salmon in color; the bouquet is rich and shows aromas of dried rose petals, citrus peel, raspberry and wild strawberry. Its texture is creamy which is complemented nicely by an energetic acidity and flavors of citrus, red cherry and cranberry. Nicely balanced. This wine spent 36 months in tirage.
The Mumm Napa Cuvée M Red non-vintage (tasted the latest release in 2022) is only available through the winery (no distribution). This wine is a blend of 96% Pinot Noir
and 4% Syrah. It is dark ruby in the glass (with the color coming from the Syrah); the aromas are fruit forward with notes of plum preserve, currant, cherry along with a darker brambly and white pepper spice note. Offers flavors of wild cherry drop candy, red plums and crowberries (reference Iceland Krækiber berries often used for jam and even for an Icelandic wine). Lingers with some presence of light but noticeable tannins, a slight tangy bitter note and a hint of tobacco. This is an off-dry bottling with the presence of sugar barely perceptible. A very unusual but pleasant bottling. This wine spent 18 months in tirage, has 2.84% sugar from its dosage (sec) and is recommended to drink in its youth.
Their 2002 Mumm DVX Rosé is not sold through distribution, rather it is only available for purchase at the winery. It is slightly pink/orange with aromas of strawberry and lavender and pleasing red and black berry flavors. The 2004 Mumm DVX was the first California based sparkling wine producer to receive 94 points from the Wine Spectator.
And in 2020 Mumm launched several sparkling wines from Marlborough, New Zealand grown vineyards, followed by a sparkling wine from Tasmania, Australia in 2022.
Shows deep amber in the clear 375ml bottle. This bottling offers intense aromatics of caramel, toffee, milk chocolate, along with candied orange peel. Reveals plenty of flavor and intensity across the palate including notes of butter, vanilla and lingering toasted oak spices. 40% alcohol by volume.
A must see with any visit to Mumm Napa Valley is their photo gallery; well-known artists exhibit their art pieces; admission is free of charge to the public. Their first exhibit was from 1993 and included a number of winery related photographs by the famed Ansel Adams.
Mumm Napa Valley also displays a number of photographs by Adams from a permanent collection loaned to Mumm by his grandson Matthew Adams. During our first visit, the gallery contained original Sierra Nevada Mountain photographs by both Adams and more recent outdoor photographer, Galen Rowell (who along with his wife Barbara tragically died in a plane crash in Bishop, CA). Some of the photographs in their exhibitions are for sale; we have seen prices in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. Over the years this gallery has displayed iconic works from other top photographers including Robert Turner, Todd Hido and musician Graham Nash.
Mumm Napa Valley takes their last tasting at 530pm and closes to all new visitors by 6pm. For more information about Mumm Napa Valley, to schedule an appointment, to join one of their wine clubs, or for current art exhibition status, visit their website: www.mummnapa.com
Devaux Vineyard Ranch, Carneros
G.H. Mumm, Reims France
The original G.H. Mumm & Co. was established in 1827 in Reims France by three brothers, Philipp, Jacobus and Gottlieb from the Rhine Valley in Germany along with one other partner Friedrich Giesler; the original name of the company was P. A. Mumm Giesler et C°. The PA was a tribute to their father, Peter Anthony who was a wine merchant. The Mumm family heritage in the world of wine dates back to at least 1761 when the family started P.A. Mumm in Cologne, Germany (both producers of wine from their family vineyards as well as wine distributors). Records show they were doing international business in their very early years including other countries in Europe; their first shipment of Champagne to North America was in 1830.
Unlike Mumm Napa Valley, which is pronounced ‘Mumm’ like referring to someone’s mum, or mother, G.H. Mumm is pronounced like ‘mooom’ to honor the founder’s German heritage.
The name G.H. Mumm is taken from the first initials of Georges Hermann Mumm, the son of Gottlieb who took over the operations of the company in 1852 (the same year his father died) and is when the name of the company changed to G.H. Mumm. And the phrase and now Mumm’s motto, “Nec plus ultra: Only the best” is directly attributed to Georges. Also in 1852, George’s cousin Jules founded Jules Mumm & Co which was in operation until 1910 when it closed due to financial problems.
The company has had several milestones over the years including in 1876, when Georges made the decision to decorate the neck of every bottle released with a simple but bold looking red silk ribbon. This ribbon was inspired by several of the highest honors one can receive in France including the Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint Louis and the Grand Cordon de la Légion d’Honneur. Today this red symbol is Mumm’s iconic look.
During World War I, Georges Mumm was arrested, and G.H. Mumm was taken over by the French government; the Mumm’s were originally from Germany but never became French citizens. Immediately following World War, I in 1918, I, G.H. Mumm was auctioned off; its new owner was Société Vinicole de Champagne.
Fast forward four years, George’s son Godefroy Hermann von Mumm (who was born in Champagne but now lived in Germany) started Mumm & Co in Germany’s Rheingau region. The company eventually was sold in 2001 with the new company still carrying the Mumm last name (Rotkäppchen-Mumm).
Godefory was the last of the Mumm family to run the company. He took over operations during World War II when Germany occupied this part of France and ran the business until leaving Germany in 1944 just prior to the end of the war. Following the end of World War II, Société Vinicole de Champagne again took over ownership and control of the company.
G.H. Mumm has since been owned by several parent companies over the years including Seagram’s beginning in 1969 and also a U.S. based investment firm no longer in business. Since 2005, G.H. Mumm has been owned by France based Pernod Ricard, one of the world’s largest producers and sellers of wine and spirits. The roots of Pernod date to 1805, and Ricard to 1932; Pernod Ricard was formed in 1975 by merging of the two companies. Today the company owns numerous wine and spirit brands including a number of iconic names, known worldwide such as Malibu rum and Absolut vodka. Their corporate headquarters are located in Paris in a space known as The Island.
Their headquarters are located in the center of Reims which is about a 90-to-120-minute drive from either central Paris or Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG). This is ‘ground zero’ for some of the world’s greatest Champagne houses; walking through this section of town is a who’s who of Champagne with nearby neighbors including Krug, Louis Roderer and Champagne Palmer among others.
A number of experiences can be booked including the introduction to G.H. Mumm, the Cordon Rouge Experience. Other tasting experiences feature more limited production and rarer wines. Tours begin with an introduction film about G.H. Mumm and basic history of the Champagne region. One will learn that Mumm owns about 540 acres of vines with their primary holdings located in some of Champagne’s most premium regions including, Aÿ, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Verzenay, Avize, Cramant and Mailly-Champagne. They source approximately 75% of their grapes from independent growers throughout Champagne.
Following the film, visitors enter the cellar. The tour offers a fascinating look through some of their historical and contemporary production with a visit to only part of their 25 kilometers of underground tunnels. Like other caves in parts of Champagne the tunnels are carved out of a white chalk (one can feel the walls are slightly damp to the touch). Several highlights of the cave tour include one room that houses some of their oldest wines and a large room that contains numerous pieces of historical winemaking equipment.
In the 1970s a bicycle race was held in one of the long tunnels with the winner completing the ‘course’ in only 19 seconds!
Following the visit to the caves, several sparkling wines will be offered upstairs in the small but posh tasting salon. This is also a good opportunity to meet some of your neighbors from the tour – chances are there might even be a few others from your home country. To book an experience and or for more information about G.H. Mumm, visit: www.mumm.com
G.H. MUMM, REIMS FRANCE
This small chapel and grounds are located directly across from G.H. Mumm in Reims on the gardens of the Mumm family residence. It is referred to by several names including Chapel of Notre-Dame de la Paix and the chapel of Our Lady Queen of Peace. It was designed by Tokyo born but France based artist at the time, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita and was constructed between 1965 and 1966.
Foujita became a well-known artist in Paris in the 1920s. He became friends with René Lalou, the president of G.H. Mumm for nearly five decades and a devoted art collector. After Foujita converted to Catholicism in 1959, Lalou invited and commissioned Foujita to build the chapel. Lalou was also Foujita’s; incidentally, Foujita’s godmother was Françoise Taittinger (Champagne Taittinger). At age 80 and not long before he died, Foujita, using scaffolding, hand-painted all the beautiful interior frescoes inside the chapel. His body was interred and moved here in 2003.
Note that the chapel and grounds are closed during parts of the year (winter months).
And in 1957 Foujita drew a rose motif which has been on the label of every Mumm Brut Rosé champagne since 1958. Mumm continues to produce this bottling, named the RSRV Rosé Foujita in his honor.
Moulin de Verzenay
The old mill on this much-loved site dates from 1818 and was originally able to simultaneously mill two types of grain. It was in use as a mill through 1903. During World War I it was used as a French military observation site and the American’s used it for the same purpose during World War II. The mill and its windmill were restored in 1949; it is the last surviving example of type of windmill dating from the 1800s which used to be common on the hillsides near Verzenay.
G.H. Mumm purchased the mill in 1972 and celebrated 50 years of ownership in 2022 (the year we first visited the site). The location has additional historical company significance; G.H. Mumm purchased their first vineyards as a company in 1840 in Verzenay. The property is used to host private events such as dinners.
Visitors can park at the small parking lot and make the short walk to the main entrance (typically locked) but can peer through the rod iron column gate and fence to see the inside. And visitors can walk around the exterior and enjoy the expansive views looking down from the hillside. The tiny village of Verzenay is less than a 5-minute drive from the mill and can easily be seen from the mill site.
G.H. Mumm Les Briquettes
This handsome bâtiment (building) was built in 1947 by G.H. Mumm: they were one of the first Champagne houses to build such a structure, a dedicated space for grape pickers to sleep during harvest. This site is about a 15-minute drive from Épernay and a very short distance from several prominent Moët & Chandon properties.