Abreu Vineyards

About

Most producers set out with the goal of creating great wine, great wine seems almost a side effect of a higher calling. Our mission is to create a 50-year history of the greatest California wine.

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Winemaker

Growing up, Napa Valley was David Abreu's playground as well as his classroom. Born into a family of ranchers, he spent the better part of his youth working in Napa's original vineyards. Over time, David's sense of what makes a site stand out—why one vineyard makes great wine and another's is just good—was sharpened beyond the ordinary. Eventually, intuition and experience led him to four exceptional vineyard properties: Madrona Ranch, Cappella, Howell Mountain, and Thorevilos. He planned and planted each one. And with an uncompromising—some might say insane—commitment to quality, he and his crew farm them to perfection. Alongside Brad Grimes, a chef turned winemaker, he whittles one hundred barrels down to just 12,000 bottles of single-site Cabernet blends. You could call it passion beyond reason. And you may be right.

Practices & Techniques

Sometimes the best experiments are the ones that just happen. When David started making wine in the 90s he only had two tanks. He didn't have a winery, so he had to bring in all his fruit on a single day. He had to pick it all at once. First the Cab and Cab Franc came in together and went into the same tank; then came the Merlot and finally the Petit Verdot. It was two tanks of whatever he picked. That's how the blend was made. It's different now. We have all the tanks and time we need and it's more intentional. But we still co-ferment. It works for what we're trying to achieve

Estate Vineyards / AVA

CAPPELLA:

Cappella is one of the oldest vineyard sites in St. Helena, six acres that sit alongside a Catholic cemetery on the west side of town. In the 1980s the church asked David to tear out the old vines, then he watched as the land lay fallow for close to two decades. When he finally got the chance to replant, he jumped. He'd tasted fruit from Cappella in the 70s. He knew what kind of wine it could make. But that first replant was ill-fated thanks to diseased rootstock, and once again he was ripping out vines. “It took us six years before we had a crop. We could have ignored it, pulled the vines out one by one as they collapsed. But then we'd have all these different ripening patterns, which would impact consistency. It was an easy decision.”

HOWELL MOUNTAIN:

When David purchased this property in 2000 it came with an unexpected perk: first growth redwood stakes dating back over a century. Relics of an earlier era of agriculture. “When the college owned this site they'd burn all the underbrush, including the stakes, to keep it clean. When I came in we found them and set them all aside,” he says. At about 2000 feet elevation, Howell Mountain sits above the fog line, surrounded by a protected forest of fir and pine. Red Aiken soils are layered over white tufa, and the rocks that littered the site before it was planted now form walls defining the property. The redwood stakes—collected, stacked, preserved—await their next life.

MADRONA RANCH:

If Abreu has a core, it is undoubtedly Madrona Ranch. It was the first property David fell for, and developed, back in the 1980s. The canyons and curves that snake through the site, the soils that range from red Aiken to white tufa to dark clay and rocks—it’s a magical site. Harvest picks are meticulous, often spanning weeks, but the diversity makes for incredible complexity, and plenty of blending options. Madrona is a working ranch too. In fact, livestock have laid claim to more than their share of real estate. Cattle, goats, pigs, chickens—even honeybees, which live in one of the old barns on the property. “We tend the animals and leave the bees alone,” says David. “We do collect the honey though. We consider it fair rent.”

THOREVILOS:

Thorevilos was one of David's favorite haunts as a child. There were no vines then. Just pine trees, redwoods, an old olive grove. And a rusted hog wire hanging from a tree—“Hook Man” in Abreu family lore. These days it's the dirt that engrosses him. White tufa that turns to fine powder when you grind it beneath your foot. Tannish soil peppered with orange-brown pebbles. Streaks of dry, red earth. Sitting 800 feet above the valley floor, wedged between the St. Helena and Howell Mountain AVAs, Thorevilos doesn't belong to any sub-appellation. “It's an outlier,” David says. When the AVA boundaries were being determined, he could have argued to have it included. “But it wouldn't have made any difference to the vineyard. Or the wine.”

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Address

P.O. Box 89
Rutherford, California 94573
United States

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