Our name, Adastra, comes from a phrase and sentiment beloved of Naomi Thorpe's father: Per aspera, ad astra which translates to Through striving, to the stars. The pervasive spirit at Adastra is one of continuous improvement. At Adastra, Chris Thorpe, Edwin Richards, and the Adastra team grow wine grapes on their 20 acre CCOF-certified organic estate vineyard in the Napa Valley Carneros region. Pam Starr has been Adastra's winemaking consultant since 1997. Our total production seldom exceeds 1,500 cases per year of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot and Chardonnay. When the stars are aligned, we are able to produce our ultra-premium Proximus Pinot Noir and Proximus Merlot. Most of our wine is sold directly from our winery to wine club members and visitors from around the world.
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To preserve the vineyard character, Pam tries as much as possible to let the wine make itself, harvesting ripe grapes then minimizing manipulation and maximizing flavor development, monitoring carefully to ensure optimal results.
Oak barrels are used judiciously to complement and accentuate flavors, rather than to mask them.
The wine thus becomes a showcase for the grape and the vineyard, something beautiful and unique.
Following a childhood that included an above average interest in tastes and smells (she once organized a spice tasting based on the contents of her mother’s kitchen cabinet), Pam went to UC Davis.
She graduated in 1984 with a degree in Fermentation Science. However, the wines she’d sampled on her undergraduate budget didn’t really impress her. She was thus contemplating a career in dentistry when she took an internship at Sonoma-Cutrer. This proved to be a life-changing experience.
Four months later, she abandoned plans for dental school and went to work at Edna Valley Vineyards. From there, she moved on to Carmenet and after seven years there, accepted the position of winemaker at Spottswoode.
In 1997, having amassed a wealth of experience and accolades working for others, Pam set out on her own as a consultant. That year, on the recommendation of mutual acquaintance Tony Soter of Etude Wines, Adastra interviewed her; her talent, philosophy and last name seemed to constitute a celestial match. They have been working together ever since.
In addition for consulting for a number of other top wineries, Pam has her own label, Crocker and Starr, a partnership with the Crocker Vineyard, also formed in 1997.
After several years raising Angus cattle, Chris decided he had had enough of chasing stray heifers at obscene hours of the night. He established Adastra Vineyards in 1989, returning vines to the Carneros property for the first time since Prohibition.
Adastra Vineyards began as four acres of Chardonnay and four acres of Merlot. Emboldened by the enthusiastic reception of wineries to the fruit, Chris expanded plantings of existing cultivars to seven acres each and daringly added six acres of the heartbreak grape, Pinot Noir.
In 1995, son-in-law Edwin Richards became general manager at Adastra and wine production began in a small way with two barrels of Merlot. In 1996 the Merlot label was joined by Chardonnay, with quantities of both wines increasing slowly over the next few years.
Having sold all of its Pinot Noir grapes to Etude since 1997, Adastra began to withhold a small amount of this varietal in 2002. Seventy-five cases were made of the 2002 Adastra Pinot Noir, to great acclaim; subsequent wines are proving even more exciting.
Also in 2002, Adastra began to farm organically in the belief that this would produce better quality grapes and have a positive environmental impact. In 2005 its vineyards were certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers.
Practices & Techniques
Although only three words long, the statement on Adastra’s label is testament to a years-long commitment to meet the highest standards for organic farming practices.
Since 2005, Adastra’s vineyards have been certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), which has among the strictest standards in the nation for organic agriculture. Grapegrowers must farm their grapes organically according to CCOF standards for three years prior to certification.
In addition to completing a comprehensive application form (a stack of paper about 1.5” thick), the grower is required to maintain an ongoing log of farm activities, which is reviewed annually by independent inspectors.
We believe that organically farmed grapes taste better, and therefore make better wine. But besides quality products, there are tangible benefits from organic farming, including a healthier soil and healthier environment, making Adastra a more pleasant place to work and live.
Corpus Christi, TX
Loved my time at Adastra! the tasting fee was a little high, but worth it. I was able to tour the vineyards and they offered cheese samples with the wine tastings.