Acumen Wines Crush 2018
Founded by proprietor Eric Yuan, and guided by a team that includes acclaimed Winemaker Henrik Poulsen and renowned Viticulturist Garrett Buckland, Acumen is dedicated to creating the next great Napa Valley wine estate. To achieve this goal, Acumen has established an estate that features 116 organically certified acres of vines, spread across two remarkable vineyards on Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak. From these coveted grapes, the Acumen team makes a small portfolio of estate-grown wines, with a focus on mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Sauvignon Blanc. Taking their inspiration from the great Napa Valley Cabernets of the 1960s and 1970s, Acumen’s classically structured wines are recognized for their balance, vineyard-driven complexity and uncommon age-worthiness. For Acumen, the secret to our successful farming on rugged Atlas Peak is a full-time, hands-on vineyard and wine-making team that knows our sites intimately. Every glass of Acumen is an invitation to share in our dream, to be transported to the vineyards.
Centrally located in the heart of downtown Napa, Acumen Wine Gallery showcases wines from our organically farmed Estate vineyards on Atlas Peak. The Acumen team offers guests warm hospitality throughout three exceptional wine tasting experiences.
- The Summit Experience is the ultimate exploration of acclaimed wines from our rugged Estate on Atlas Peak. Guests are guided through a collection of six extraordinary PEAK and Mountainside bottlings in our private room, paired alongside a selection of locally procured cheese and charcuterie to enhance your tasting experience. The Summit Experience is $75 per person, lasts approximately 60 minutes and can accommodate up to 7 guests per seating. Prior reservation is required.
- Casual Tasting Flights
- For a casual and convivial wine tasting experience, guests are welcomed into our stylish Tasting Lounge and contemporary art gallery. Presented with the choice of two tasting options, guests will enjoy three current release wines from either the PEAK Flight ($40) or Mountainside Flight ($25). The Tasting Lounge experience lasts approximately 45 minutes and can accommodate up to 5 guests per group.
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As winemaker for Acumen, Henrik Poulsen has a very clear focus: make wine that is an honest and joyous expression of the vineyard. Part of this preoccupation lies with his own winemaking philosophy, but it is equally a nod to the distinctive nature of Acumen’s organically-farmed vineyards on Atlas Peak. The high-elevation climate, volcanic soils and long growing season provide Acumen with fruit that has fully mature flavors while retaining complex structure due to naturally higher levels of tannin, a quality that is prized by Henrik.
As the executive manager and director of winemaking for Acumen, acclaimed winemaker Henrik Poulsen guides a team dedicated to creating the next great Napa Valley wine estate. With a philosophy deeply rooted in Acumen’s two remarkable estate vineyards, and a winemaking approach that takes its inspiration from the legendary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons of the 1960s and 1970s, Henrik crafts classically structured mountain-grown wines that are recognized for their balance, vineyard-driven complexity and age-worthiness.
Born in Denmark, Henrik was raised in a wine-loving family, and he purchased his first bottle of classified Bordeaux when he was just 14 years old. While attending university in Copenhagen, Henrik found himself falling deeper under wine’s spell. As he began reading books about wine, attending tastings, and working in a local wine shop, he realized that wine was his true path. He soon left school and traveled to Bordeaux to gain hands-on winemaking experience working at Château de Haux. In 2000, after meeting Newton Vineyard Founder Su Hua Newton in Paris, Henrik moved to Napa Valley, eager to gain a more global winemaking perspective. Over the next six years, he immersed himself in the world of Napa Valley wine, while working alongside renowned European winemakers Luc Morlet, and later Jean Hoefliger.
In 2006, following Newton’s purchase by LVMH, Henrik and Jean joined the founding team at Alpha Omega, where they quickly established it as one of the most exciting wineries in Napa Valley. There, Henrik made wines using grapes from some of Napa Valley’s greatest vineyards, including Stagecoach, and Beckstoffer’s To Kalon, Dr. Crane and Georges III vineyards. During his seven years at Alpha Omega, he gained invaluable experience from legendary consultant and master blender Michel Rolland. While at Alpha Omega, Henrik also had the opportunity to explore some of the great Napa Valley wines of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“Experiencing the great older Napa Valley wines was a revelation,” says Henrik. “I was deeply impressed by their complexity and longevity. It was an epiphany to see many of the qualities I loved about the greatest wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux realized in a uniquely Napa Valley way.” After founding his own Release Winery, and a wine consulting business, Henrik joined Acumen in 2013 as director of winemaking, working alongside founding winemaker—and Château Latour veteran—Denis Malbec. Together, Denis and Henrik established the Acumen style, crafting wines that artfully balance the robust mountain tannins of Atlas Peak with the nuance and complexity of Acumen’s two exceptional estate vineyards.
Today, as both director of winemaking and executive manager, Henrik collaborates with Viticulturist Garrett Buckland and Vineyard Manager Jesus Gonzalez to grow grapes that possess perfect phenolic ipeness, while still retaining complex structure due to their naturally high tannin levels. To tame these robust tannins, in the winery Henrik uses special yeasts, cool fermentations, gentle extractions and ideal cooperage pairings to create silky wines with the structure to reward long-term cellaring. “Our aim is to make wines with an ideal balance between tannin, acid, intensity and fruit;” adds Henrik, “wines that celebrate the character of each new vintage, and the complexity of our Atlas Peak estate vineyards.”
“While Atlas Peak is very remote, and extremely difficult to plant due to its steep slopes and rocky soils, legendary winegrowers like Jan Krupp have long known what a remarkable region it is for growing grapes,” says Director of Winemaking Henrik Poulsen. “With its high elevation, relatively cool climate, and volcanic soils, it is a place where the grapes can ripen perfectly, while retaining the complex structure and tannins that define our wines. We believe that Atlas Peak is Napa Valley’s next frontier for great mountain-grown wines.”
Acumen acquired its first vineyard on Atlas Peak in 2012. Originally planted in 1992, and featuring 32 acres of vines with a northeast exposure, the Attelas Vineyard was the ‘home vineyard’ of Dr. Jan Krupp, predating his famed Stagecoach Vineyard by three years. The next year, Acumen crafted its debut vintage of estate-grown wines. Made by Denis and Henrik, Acumen’s inaugural wines were immediately recognized for their nuance and complexity, and heralded the arrival of a new vision for mountain-grown winemaking on Atlas Peak. In 2014, Acumen expanded its estate program with the acquisition of the Edcora Vineyard, which features 84 acres of vines 350 feet higher up on Atlas Peak. Like the neighboring Stagecoach Vineyard, Edcora’s high altitude, along with its southwestern exposure, mean that it is 10-to-15% warmer on average than Attelas, adding to the diversity of Acumen’s estate program.
Together, Attelas and Edcora offer a rich and vibrant tapestry of vineyard blocks, with a focus on exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This provides the Acumen team with a remarkable palette of fruit during blending, adding to the layered sophistication of the wines. Since Acumen’s founding, Attelas and Edcora have been stewarded by master Viticulturist Garrett Buckland, who has farmed acclaimed vineyards like Araujo, Dalla Valle and Realm, and is the current president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers association. Working with gifted Vineyard Manager Jesus Gonzalez, Garrett applies his decades of winegrowing experience, and encyclopedic viticultural knowledge to the goal of establishing Acumen as Napa Valley’s next great wine estate. “Atlas Peak has the potential to be one of Napa Valley’s greatest mountain AVAs,” says Garrett. “And, Acumen’s estate vineyards will one day be considered among the world’s finest—they are already on the cusp of being Grand Cru-caliber sites.”
Today, Acumen is guided by acclaimed Director of Winemaking and Executive Manager Henrik Poulsen, who is building on the stylistic foundation he helped to established alongside Denis Malbec, who sadly passed away in 2016. Born in Denmark, Henrik has winemaking experience on two continents, having worked in Bordeaux and Napa Valley. Throughout his illustrious career, Henrik has worked with some of the world’s greatest winemakers, including Denis, Luc Morlet, Jean Hoefliger and Michel Rolland. He has also made wines from many of Napa Valley’s most beloved vineyards, including Stagecoach, and Beckstoffer’s To Kalon, Dr. Crane and Georges III vineyards.
Because Acumen sells the majority of its grapes to a who’s who of top Napa Valley wineries, Henrik is able to focus on his favorite small vineyard blocks to create Acumen’s wines. Echoing the charm and longevity of the great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which are revered for their harmony and structure, Acumen’s wines have quickly emerged as benchmarks for Atlas Peak, recognized for this vibrant purity and precision.
In the world of winegrowing, Garrett Buckland is recognized as a viticultural master known for elevating the quality of already exceptional sites to Grand Cru-caliber vineyards, while cultivating some of the finest grapes in the world. Born and raised in Napa Valley, Garrett is a second generation viticulturist, who honed his craft working at his father’s Buckland Vineyard Management. In the years since, Garrett has helped to steward some of Napa Valley’s most renowned vineyards, including Araujo, Dalla Valle, Realm, Knights Bridge and Hall, and in 2016, he was elected president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers association. Since 2012, Garrett has applied his decades of winegrowing experience and viticultural knowledge to the care of Acumen’s vineyards on Atlas Peak, with the goal of establishing them as Napa Valley’s next great wine estate.
The son of noted viticulturist Al Buckland, Garrett learned to drive a tractor when he was four, and spent his summers working for his father’s vineyard management company. While studying viticulture and enology at UC Davis, Garrett gained additional experience at both Foundation Plant Services and the Department of Plant Pathology. After earning his degree, he spent the next seven years as the winemaker for Perry Creek Winery, during which time he also cofounded Premiere Viticultural Services. Adding to his encyclopedic knowledge of winegrowing, Garrett is also a partner at VineInfo, a vineyard software company and viticultural database for ultra-premium winegrowers.
In 2012, when Eric Yuan set out to establish Acumen in Napa Valley, he sought out Garrett’s expertise in selecting Acumen’s vineyards. Searching for the ideal terroir to make beautifully structured wines of uncommon depth and purity, Garrett guided Eric to the high-mountain slopes of Atlas Peak. There, with temperatures often 10 degrees cooler than on the valley floor, the grapes ripen slowly, yielding wines of dazzling charm and purity. After helping to evaluate and select Acumen’s Attelas and Edcora vineyards, Garrett stayed on at Acumen, and has guided the estate’s viticultural program ever since.
Combining lifelong, hands-on winegrowing and vineyard management experience, with years of winemaking expertise and leading-edge technological know-how, Garrett has earned acclaim as a visionary viticulturist. Since joining the Acumen team, he has dedicated himself to coaxing the full potential from the Attelas and Edcora vineyards, through replanting with elite clone and rootstock materials, and the use of state-of-the-art soil preparation methods, trellising, irrigation techniques, diagonal row orientations, and more. In keeping with Acumen’s commitment to the environment, Garrett also oversaw the conversion of both vineyards to organic farming, which resulted in organic certification in 2016.
“Because of how remote it is, and the cost and difficulty of growing grapes here, Atlas Peak has long been a diamond in the rough,” says Garrett. “Working with Vineyard Manager Jesus Gonzalez and his talented team, we are giving every acre of vines at Attelas and Edcora an average of almost 300 hours of handwork each vintage. This is an almost unheard of level of care, and the diamond is starting to shine. Acumen’s estate vineyards on Atlas Peak will one day be considered among the world’s finest.”
Many top wineries have turned to Buckland for his expertise in planting or managing their vineyards, including Araujo, Warren Winiarski, Realm, Knight’s Bridge, Baldacci Family and Kathryn Hall. He has a degree in viticulture and enology from U.C. Davis and serves as president of the Napa Valley Grape Growers.
GORDON WAGGONER, Director of Sales
As director of sales, Gordon Waggoner is dedicated to telling the remarkable story ofAcumen and its Atlas Peak estate vineyards. A team builder, strategic thinker and storyteller, Gordon brings a wealth of experience to his role, having worked as a wine buyer, distributor, and for almost a decade, as a director of sales for elite Napa Valley wineries that focus on mountain-grown wines. Combining his many talents, Gordon has emerged as a powerful voice for the Atlas Peak AVA and Acumen, introducing the region and its beautifully complex and structured Cabernet Sauvignons to wine enthusiasts around the globe.
Gordon was born and raised in Northern Virginia, and began a career as a professional actor during high school. While burnishing his storytelling skills as an actor over the next decade, Gordon also worked in fine dining, where he quickly developed a love of wine. In 2004, this led to Gordon becoming the assistant food and beverage manager for the Park Hyatt in Los Angeles, and later general manager for the Park Grill at The InterContinental Los Angeles. “I love the diversity of wine, and the fact that it is an intersection point between farming, science, art, design, roll-up-your-sleeves hard work, and visionary thinking,” says Gordon. “I also appreciate how each bottle of great wine is like a snapshot of a specific place and time. These are the stories I like to tell.”
In 2007, eager to gain a broader and more nuanced understanding of the industry, Gordon joined Regal Wine Company, where he spent three years representing some of the world’s most famous wineries, including iconic Napa Valley mountain producers like Cardinale, Lokoya and Mt. Brave. Fascinated by these wines, Gordon joined the team at Chappellet, where he learned from mentor Steve Tamburelli, before being named the director of consumer sales and hospitality for Ladera Vineyards in 2010. At Ladera, Gordon oversaw all aspects of the family-run winery’s DTC and hospitality program on Howell Mountain. “My time at Ladera was a wonderful opportunity to refine my experiential and relationship-driven approach to hospitality, sales and marketing,” says Gordon. “There are thousands of wineries in California. The great ones build authentic, meaningful connections with their customers.”
After Ladera, Gordon spent two years as the wine club manager for Silverado Vineyards, before joining the Acumen team as director of sales in 2014. “Coming to Acumen was the culmination of everything I had learned, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help build a world-class winery from the ground up.” Working with Founder Eric Yuan, and Executive Manager and Director of Winemaking Henrik Poulsen, Gordon helps to guide the long-term vision and stylistic direction of Acumen’s wines, while overseeing the winery’s North American and international sales program. “Acumen has such a clear and exciting vision, and the values to achieve it,” adds Gordon. “We are committed to bringing the wines of Atlas Peak to the world, while establishing Acumen as the benchmark for our region. This isn’t something that can be achieved through marketing—it’s about the amazing team we’ve brought together, the intimate way we cultivate our vineyards, the uniqueness of our terroir, and the exceptional quality of our wines. For the first time in my career, I feel like I am a part of building something that I can dedicate the rest of my professional life to. It is incredibly fulfilling.”
Estate Vineyards / AVA
Acumen’s Attelas and Edcora Estate Vineyards
Acumen’s two vineyards, named Attelas and Edcora, total 116 acres of vines, and are located in Foss Valley, an elevated “hanging” valley surrounding Atlas Peak. Thanks to their 1,300-1,650 foot elevations, both vineyards are above the fog line, and are positioned at the southernmost edge of the Vaca Mountain Range. This location benefits from moderating breezes off San Pablo Bay to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west—breezes that are funneled through narrow canyons ending at Atlas Peak.
Acumen purchased its Attelas Vineyard in 2012. The name Attelas combines the word Atlas with Atelier (an artist’s studio). Originally planted in 1992, Attelas was the ‘home vineyard’ of legendary winegrower Dr. Jan Krupp, and predates his famed Stagecoach Vineyard by three years. Attelas is situated at approximately 1,300 feet, and features 32 acres of vines, planted in volcanic, clay and loam soils as a mosaic of 20 vineyard blocks—including eight blocks and six different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon. Attelas also includes plantings of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. With a predominantly northeast exposure, Attelas is a cool site in a cooler appellation, making it ideal for Acumen’s complex and structured style.
In 2014, Acumen acquired a second estate vineyard with 84 acres of vines higher up on Atlas Peak. This vineyard is named Edcora, which refers to a nearly 6-carat red diamond considered to be the largest red diamond in the world. A half mile away from Attelas, and approximately 350 feet higher up the mountain, Edcora (which neighbors the famed Stagecoach Vineyard) features volcanic soils. With less clay and loam content than Attelas, these shallow, iron-rich soils are the color of red brick, and provide excellent drainage. The soils rest atop a hard layer of dark brown volcanic andesite, which limits vine growth, while concentrating the energy of the vines on ripening the fruit, not leaf and tendril development. This combination yields the small berries and thick skins that are treasured by mountain winemakers.
Edcora is planted to 78 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon spread over 20 individual blocks, 4 acres of Petit Verdot and 2 acres of Cabernet Franc. With a southwest facing exposure, on average Edcora is 10-to-15% warmer than Attelas. Edcora features volcanic soils, an ideal high-elevation climate, and a long growing season. Combined with expert farming, this allows Acumen to produce wines of ideal ripeness, depth, complexity and phenolic concentration. Together, Attelas and Edcora provide the Acumen team with all five of the Bordeaux red varieties for blending.
The farming at Attelas and Edcora is guided by Garrett and gifted Vineyard Manager Jesus Gonzalez, who lives onsite, and oversees Acumen’s fulltime, 22-person vineyard team, which includes some of the top pruners in Napa Valley. This seasoned team applies a meticulous approach to farming that includes individual handwork on every vine approximately 15 times in a growing season, with every acre of vines receiving approximately 300 hours of attention each vintage. Combining this intimate approach to farming, with a belief in environmental stewardship, both Attelas and Edcora have been cultivated organically since 2014, and earned CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) certification in 2016.
In addition to applying a remarkably detail-oriented approach to farming, Acumen has been replanting both vineyards in small sections using state-of-the-art soil preparation methods, trellising, irrigation and row orientation methods. This includes diagonal row orientations to moderate sunlight, drought tolerant rootstocks, and creating the ideal light environment on the vines through meticulous pruning. As a result, each grape receives approximately 30 minutes of direct sunshine a day. The Acumen team is also pioneering cutting-edge canopy and water management techniques to cultivate smaller berries that achieve phenolic ripeness, with freshness and no pyrazines. At the same time, the size of the berries results in a smaller skin-to-juice ratio, yielding greater color and intensity.
With 116 acres of vines, Acumen uses only approximately 10% of its estate fruit, and Henrik is able to select his favorite blocks and rows to make Acumen’s wines, with the remaining grapes prized by a who’s who of elite Napa Valley winery clients.