Tom Eddy Winery was founded by Tom Eddy, owner and winemaker; his first wine released was a Cabernet Sauvignon in 1991, the same year he started his wine consulting business – Thomas G Eddy & Associates. Only 200 cases were released that year. He is a graduate of UC Davis in 1974 with degree in Oenology; conveniently his family was already living in the town of Davis after moving up from the Long Beach area to escape the smog and traffic and because his father was hired to work for the city of Davis.
Right after college he worked at Heublein, a large alcohol beverage company founded in 1862 but which dissolved in 1998. Over the years Tom worked at several well-known Napa wineries including 5.5 years at Christian Brothers where was their Director of Winemaking; the old Christian Brothers building is now home to the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. While at Christian Brothers he oversaw an increase in production from about 60,000 cases to 275,000 cases a year. He also spent time at Inglenook Estate.
In 1989 he began assisting an ambitious new project called St. Michael’s Winery & Vineyard on Diamond Mountain with the owner at the time, Andre Bosc. Ultimately this project never materialized and the property was sold to Dario Sattui in 1993 and is now home of Castello di Amorosa. In 1995 Eddy helped negotiate a price for a brand called Charles Shaw which had been made at what is now Benessere Winery located to the south of Calistoga. Fred Franzia purchased this name which he turned into the well-known brand called Two Buck Chuck. Eddy was also the early winemaker at what was called Bella Luna Winery (now Benessere), owned by the Benish family who purchased the physical Charles Shaw Winery, but not the brand.
Eddy also developed a beautiful vineyard on Pritchard Hill for then owner Alex Spanos, who eventually sold and became Nine Suns Winery which currently is owned by Realm Cellars. He used to produce wines from this vineyard bottled under Tom Eddy. More recently he was president of the Calistoga Winegrowers Association of which Tom Eddy Winery is as member.
Along with wine making he would often travel throughout California looking for high quality vineyards that could be sourced by Napa wineries. He has also consulted for wineries in other states and even as far away as Venezuela. His philosophy of looking for the best vineyard sources regardless of location has carried through to his own business. As a result, over the years Tom Eddy wines have come from a number of sources, from California to Oregon and New Zealand.
As of our latest update to this review he sources the majority of grapes for the Tom Eddy wines from non-estate sites with the exception being the Cabernet Sauvignon from their tiny 1-acre vineyard on site. This vineyard block is named Kerry’s Vineyard after his wife Kerry, a sommelier by training. This vineyard is one of the most northernmost vineyards in Napa County, even slightly further north than Storybook Mountain Winery.
After years of planning and permits, the winery was completed in time for the 2015 harvest. A crush pad is located outside a 4,000 square foot cave used for production and aging barrels; this is Napa Valley’s northernmost physical winery. Despite the diminutive size of the cave there are two entrances – each one features wooden doors built by Calistoga artist Michael Johnson. Along with being used for the Tom Eddy wines, the cave also houses the production for several small wine producers.
When looking for land in Napa Valley, Tom and Kerry began looking for hillside property; after 15 years of combing several of Napa’s well-known hillside appellations they found this spectacular piece of property (22 acres) called Murray Hill. The nearby lands will always remain natural and undeveloped as the site is surrounded by property within the Sonoma Land Trust – and a few cows and wild turkeys to. In fact, their property crosses the county line (Sonoma/Napa) with Knights Valley just to the north. Incidentally this site used to be owned by Jacob Schram, the founder of Schramsberg Vineyard & Winery. Tom and Kerry are the properties’ 4th owners.
Tom Eddy also produces several wines under several labels including TENZ, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Parcel One and Elodian – a very approachable red wine in its youth and also a tribute to Kerry’s heritage. The Elodian wines were first released in 2003. Tom Eddy also produces a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a Mendocino County Pinot Noir, several other red varieties and two dessert wines. Total production has been as high as 5,000 cases a year, but is now around 3,000 cases annually.
Elodian is not a typical looking Napa Valley wine label; it depicts multiple sea tortoises. Kerry has a long history of working in the wine industry, but this label is more a tribute to her ancestors who sailed from Nova Scotia to the gold fields of California during the 1849 gold rush. Along the way they were stuck in the doldrums and ended up anchoring in the Galapagos Islands where they caught a number of large sea turtles. Eventually they arrived in San Francisco very late in the season, poor and almost penniless. After trying to sell anything they thought was valuable, some of the Asian restaurant owners got word of the turtles; at that point the turtles proved to be their most valuable possession!
Tom Eddy used to make two different styles of Sauvignon Blanc including one from New Zealand and one from Monterey; presently he focuses his efforts on a New Zealand grown Sauvignon Blanc. We originally tried the 2007 TENZ (an abbreviation for Tom Eddy New Zealand). This lively wine features a Maori influenced label and is sourced from the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island. Despite the vineyard source located on the other side of the world Tom travels on site at least once a year and is directly involved in all major vineyard and wine making decisions.
All wine making for this takes place in New Zealand; the cases are then loaded into containers and shipped to the Port of Oakland. Tom harvests the grapes for this a little bit later than many of the nearby vineyards ensuring slightly riper fruit, but still retaining vibrant acidity. Part of his selection is working with vineyards in cooler sites to accentuate the citrus aromas and flavors. The 2007 Tom Eddy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc shows zesty aromas including notes of lemon and lime. Drinking much more Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley than from New Zealand, it was intriguing to notice the differences in style based on terroir. This wine showed flavors of litchi fruit complemented by bright citrus. The finish shows very crisp and clean.
In contrast is the Monterey County sourced Sauvignon Blanc. Tom knew about the high quality of these particular grapes but was unable to purchase them because they were being sold to another Napa Valley based winery. Then one day the vineyard owner called Tom and said the grapes weere available if he still wanted to purchase them. The aromas on the 2006 Tom Eddy Monterey Sauvignon Blanc are decidedly floral with notes of honeysuckle and tropical fruit; the palate is rounded and includes flavors of grapefruit, gooseberry and other lingering citrus.
Tom Eddy currently produces one Pinot Noir from the cooler maritime influenced Manchester Ridge Vineyard in Mendocino County located to the north of Napa Valley.
For a number of years, he bought grapes from Monk’s Gate Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and trucked them to Napa Valley to make the wine. There is a reason for that vineyard’s name: the owners purchased land next to a monastery; two monks used to hunt for mushrooms on site but with the vineyard in the way of their mushrooms they were blocked access. Interestingly Tom also enjoys hunting for mushrooms. The vineyard owner saw them looking over his fence several times, and after he found out what they were interested in, he built a special gate!
The typical aging profile for the Tom Eddy Cabernet Sauvignon is an extra year in French oak barrels (up to 3 years) and up to two years in bottle before the wine is released. The 2002 Tom Eddy Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% varietal wine is made from free run juice only, from predominately hillside grown vineyards. Balance is a key component of Tom’s wines and this one is harmonious in the integration of texture, flavor, acid and tannin. It is teeth staining, inky and a dark wine with aromas of freshly picked blackberries and mouth filling flavors of berry fruits, mocha and exotic spices towards the finish. We noted right after tasting this wine it surely will age well. It would be nice to taste this wine now, some 20+ years after its vintage.
And in 2002, Eddy, like other Napa Valley vintners, supported post 9/11 recovery and recognition of those affected by the terrible tragedy. He and Kerry donated 50 inscribed Cabernet Sauvignon bottles to 50 pilots from each state who fly state flags to New York, exactly a year after September 11, 2001.
In 2011 due to the challenging growing conditions including unusually cool weather and rain at inopportune time, Tom Eddy did not bottle their usual Cabernet Sauvignon, but rather blended the best lots from that vintage to create another wine.
In 2020 extremely damaging fires burned through parts of Napa Valley in both the Mayacamas and Vaca mountains – from approximately St. Helena north to Calistoga. The resulting conditions produced terrible smoke which severely affected that year’s harvest. Rather than lose their entire crop, Tom pulled from some of his background experience with brandy, to produce a 2020 Tom Eddy brandy from both Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir grapes. This brandy will continue to be produced every year.
NOTE: this section of the review has been identified as needing a major updating including tasting notes for current release wines. We will add updated tasting notes here by the end of 2024.
After many years of making his wines at other wineries, Tom built a 4,000 square foot cave on the property – tunneled into one of the hillsides. Kerry is an artist and some of her sculptures are featured here. The icon for the cave is a slightly off balance “E” representing ‘Eddy’, drilled into native rock in the back of the cave. As they were completing the drilling of the cave, the drill operator wanted to leave a memento carved into the rock. He started carving a “T” for Tom, but Tom caught him before he was finished and decided an E for Eddy would be more appropriate honoring both he and Kerry.
Rather than using the standard ‘Peterson Pallet’ barrel holders invented by Napa winemaker Dr. Richard Peterson, Tom uses curved stainless steel ‘worms’ as he calls them, to stack their barrels. The advantage of these is they take up less space than the traditional stacking – allowing one to fit more barrels into an equivalent space.
In 2017 the Tubbs Fire started the night of October 8th about one mile to the south of Tom Eddy Winery. Fortunately their home and offers were spared despite the fire burning on their property, even right to the edge of their office. The resulting problems were a loss of electricity to the winery, timing was terrible as this was right in the middle of harvest. The winery has since installed a powerful generator will runs the entire winery operations during times of power outage. During the Tubbs Fire, we received a call from the Santa Barbara Fire Department who were on the Eddy property at the time helping put out hot spots. Kudos to them for being there.
Tom’s wines can be found at select wine shops in Calistoga and others throughout Napa Valley. Visits can be made by appointment and either last 90 minutes or two hours (if a barrel tasting is included). This is a unique opportunity for serious wine enthusiasts to visit with an industry veteran (40+ harvests under his belt); this is a highly personalized, relaxing and educational experience.
And the wines are selectively poured at events including at the annual tastings hosted by the
Calistoga Wine Growers Association. These include one tasting in San Francisco and one in Calistoga of member wines.
For more information, to purchase wines (including much rarer library vintages of select wines) or to join their wine club, please visit: www.tomeddywinery.com