Chuck Wagner On Caymus Conundrum And That Napa Dust In His Veins
Chuck Wagner, 65, who founded Caymus Vineyards in Napa Valley with his parents when he was 19, is humble and sweet. You would never guess that one of his wines is the only one in the world to have been named Wine Spectator Wine of the Year twice.
Despite having bragging rights to that, hes most proud to be a father and a farmer. Hell tell you that in a second. While its true that if you scratch any successful winemaker what youll find underneath is an astute farmer, Wagners family not only grows wine grapes today, but table grapes and lemons, too, and, no, Im not talking about bad grapes that make bad wine. I really mean the little yellow, citrusy things.
Today, Chuck is also helping to grow his childrens dreams. He is a descendant of three families that helped shape the wine industry in Napa beginning in the 1880s: the Wagner, Stice and Glos families, winemakers all, until Prohibition brought their businesses to a halt. Temporarily, it turned out.
Chuck, the fourth generation Wagner winemaker and Charlie and Lornas only son, is passionate about his roots there. So while other pioneering families have sold their wineries to corporations or moneyed newcomers, he has been quite studious about making it possible for his children to continue to make wine, ifthats what they want to do.
The Wagner family: Charlie, Joseph, Erin, Lorna, Chuck and Jenny
Always two? I asked.
Caymus Vineyards And The Wagner Family
The Wagners have roots in the Napa Valley dating back to the 1850s, with a long family history of grape growing and winemaking.In 1972, Chuck Wagner started Caymus Vineyards with his late parents, Lorna and Charlie Wagner Sr. Working together for decades, they established Caymus Cabernet as one of the regions most celebrated wines. Today, Chuck continues to produce two world-renowned Cabernet Sauvignons, Caymus Napa Valley and Caymus Special Selection.
In addition, Chuck is head of winemaking for Bonanza, a California Cabernet Sauvignon that celebrates the endless discovery of vineyard land throughout the state. He also produces Caymus-Suisun Grand Durif, a Petite Sirah from neighboring Suisun Valley. A hidden gem wine region only 30 minutes from Napa, Suisun has become the Wagners second home, with exceptional growing conditions for a range of varietals.
Meet Joe Wagner Of Wagner Family Of Wines
Read about this family business and why their wines are more sought after than ever before. I guarantee you’ll enjoy your wine more after this post!
StyleBlueprint was invited to meet with Joe Wagner, one of Californias most impressive winemakers, on his recent visit to Nashville. Under the Wagner Family of Wine umbrella are these notable labels: Caymus, Conundrum, Meiomi and Belle Glos Pinot Noir. Not only are these each favorites of mine, each stands on its own, having been judged some of the best wine in America and they continue to be bestsellers in Nashville as well. For five generations, the Wagner family has garnered an intimate knowledge of the land and the fruits of their labor are obvious.
When you hear the story of the Wagner Family, its worthyJoes grandmother was the salt of the earth and wore many hats: everything from taster of the wines to the cook for the workers in the field. His grandfather was known to sit at the kitchen table and blend wines, not focusing on the varietals, but rather the magical alchemy of the end result.
The Wagner Family
Following in the family tradition started by his grandparents, are his father, brother and sister. If you read their wine notes, youll find each is confident in the quality of the wine they oversee.
From my interview with Joe, here are some insights into whats going on with California wine right now:
Wine sales in the US have increased to an all-time high. Why do you think thats the case?
Unquenchable: A Tipsy Search
Best Books of the Year
Natalie MacLean is a new force in the wine writing world & dash a feisty North American answer to Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. She can write beautifully about wine.
The Financial Times of London
There are very few people in the wine world who “get it” and Natalie is one of those who brings more fun to a buttoned-up and stodgy game.
Gary Vaynerchuck, Wine Library TV
Joe Wagner Continuing The Legacy
As a fifth generation Napa Valley winemaker, Joes roots run deep in these rich soils. At 19 he started working alongside his father at Caymus Vineyards. Then, in 2001, created Belle Glos, with a focus on vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs from Californias best coastal regions.
His love for Napa wine and the singular fusion of natural elements, history, and spirit found in the Napa Valley are the foundation for Quilt.
Joe lives in Napa Valley, has six children, and maintains a healthy balance between his family life and a passionate dedication to his business.
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Six Course Wine Dinner Menu
Sea Trout and Bulgar Tartare with Preserved Lemon Salsa and Jerusalem Artichoke Chip
Sea Sun Chardonnay
Lentil and Pickled Shallot Salad with Berbere Croutons
Mer Soleil Pinot Noir
Smoked Lamb Chop with Eggplant Puree, Jalapeno Sauce and Kohlrabi Pickle
Caymus Napa Cabernet
Venison Fillet with Date Labneh, Blackberries and Peanut Crumble
Caymus Special Select Cabernet
Roasted Duck Breast with Hazelnut Butter, Red Quinoa and Brown Beach Mushrooms
Red Schooner Voyager 7
Strained Ricotta with Blackcurrant Compote and Rhubarb
Wagner Family Of Wine
The Wagners come from a long line of grape growers and winemakers, with a history in Napa Valley dating back to the 1850s. Through the years, they have embraced a hands-on work ethic and are constantly seeking to make better and better wines.
Whether its venturing to different regions to find diverse sources of top-quality grapes or experimenting with new farming techniques, the result is a pairing of tradition with innovation, a respect for the old with the promise of the new.
Its been over 45 years since Chuck Wagner, along with his parents, Charlie and Lorna Wagner, founded Caymus Vineyards in Rutherford, Napa Valley. Chuck Wagner continues to make two world-renowned Cabernet Sauvignons under the Caymus label from Napa Valley.
In 1971 Charles F. Wagner and his wife Lorna Belle Glos Wagner asked their son Charles J. Wagner, who had just graduated from high school, if he would be interested in joining them in starting up a winery. If Chuck declined the offer, Charlie and Lorna were planning to sell out of their ranch in Napa Valley and move to Australia. Chuck accepted his parents offer to launch the winery, Caymus Vineyards.
The Wagners produced their first vintage in 1972, consisting of 240 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Since then, Caymus has focused their efforts in the production of quality Cabernet Sauvignon. Todays production is 65,000 cases.
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Endless Exploration Of California And The Next Generation
Since Caymus Vineyards was founded, the Wagner family has worked with the soils and climate of Napa Valley to develop techniques for farming grapes and producing fine wine. They are now applying those techniques to making a range of wines from other parts of California and beyond. Their winemaking business remains entirely family-run, and two of Chucks children, Charlie and Jenny Wagner, now work alongside him.
Charlie produces coastal Mer Soleil Chardonnays and Pinot Noir and also leads Conundrum. In addition, he is at the helm of Red Schooner, which now includes two Red Wines of the World, a Malbec produced from grapes grown in Argentina and a red blend made from grapes grown in Australia. In the past few years, Charlie launched Sea Sun, which includes both a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from premier coastal regions of California. Holding broad appeal, Sea Sun wines showcase Californias remarkable diversity and richness of land.
Jenny is winemaker for Emmolo Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling, creating a distinct style for each of these wines. Recently, she also launched Caymus-Suisun The Walking Fool, the familys second wine from Suisun Valley. Named after a long-ago relative , The Walking Fool is a red blend featuring Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, with a smooth and lively style.
A Wine Club That Suits You
Your wine club, your way! We now offer the a club for the vinifera wine lover that knows exactly what they want! Select your favorite vinifera wines as an Octagon Cellar Club Choice Member in semi-annual shipments of 6 or more bottles with $0 shipping.
Join the club for added perks, including $0 shipping on club shipments and 20% all current release wine purchases with NO ANNUAL FEE! to be included in the next shipment!
Visit our What to expect at your Wine Tasting for details on what your visit will look like.
- We offer 2 different wine tasting options: for walk-ins, we offer wine flights for self-guided tasting. We also offer guided tastings with a member of our staff for those that would like more information or help finding the wines that best suit your palate. Guided wine tastings require a reservation. Visit our online wine tasting reservation page to book your spot.
- Wine and beer flights, wine or beer by the glass, or wine by the bottle can be purchased to enjoy at The Vantage Point or on the lawn at our picnic tables . We do not take reservations for flights or deck and outdoor seating.
- For curbside pickup call 582-6039.
- Alta B Weekend – Customer Appreciation Weekend!Sat, Jul 30 – 10:00 am – 5:00 pmWhere:
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Vittorios Hosts Beringer Wine Dinner
Frank and I had the good fortune of getting reacquainted with Beringer Wines, this time at Victor Magalhaes Vittorios Italian Trattoria.
Before going over dinner, it is probably worth reminding readers of all the firsts Beringer has racked up as Californias longest-operating winery.
With 145 years of experience, Beringer had the first gravity-fed facility created hand-dug caves to age wine gave public tours in 1934, and the winery was the first to have both a red and white wine named #1 Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator.
Dinner started with grilled peaches topped with mascarpone cheese and a sweet balsamic reduction served alongside 2018 Napa Valley chardonnay. The Meyer lemon and vanilla in the chardonnay paired well with the peaches and cheese. The 2nd course was homemade gnocchi with a deep rich duck ragu.
The full-bodied Knights Valley cabernet sauvignon was a great partner for the ragus richness, followed by roasted pork loin, mashed carrots and grilled asparagus served with a red peppercorn sauce and Quantum red blend .
The main course featured grilled petit filet mignon topped with a gorgonzola sauce, sauteed spinach, and baked mac & cheese. Magalhaes, along with Emily Moody and Maddie Bloom, both of Republic National Distributing Company, pulled out all stops with the 2015 Distinctions Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon aged 20 months in new French oak.
Featuring Caymus Private Select And Caymus Napa
Join us Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. for a six-course dinner paired with six wines from the Wagner Family of Wine, including the top two wines from Caymus Vineyards.
We invite you to spend a fabulous evening at The Greenbrier, enjoying each others company, a remarkable atmosphere and an exquisite dinner. At this exclusive event in Gatlinburg, you will indulge in an elegant six-course dinner thoughtfully prepared for you by our Executive Chef Aaron Ward and his team. And, accompanying each food course, you will be treated to the perfect wine pairing from the acclaimed portfolio of award-winning Wagner Family of Wines and the iconic Caymus Vineyards.
Throughout this sensational evening, Rich Bowman will be in the house for our guests enjoyment, lending his expert knowledge of the featured wines. A Certified Specialist of Wine, Rich Bowman is the Southeast Region Manager representing Caymus Vineyards and the Wagner Family, and has over 30 years of industry experience.
Not a wine connoisseur? No worries, this is a perfect way to learn and get excited about wine.
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The Patchwork Of Napa Valley
Classic yet complex, romantic but not ostentatious, Quilt is Joe Wagners tribute to the character of Napa Valley and its rolling patchwork of vineyards. Each wine in the collection is crafted from vineyards hand-selected by Joe, a native of Napa Valley and fifth-generation winemaker.
For Napa Valley Quilt, our grapes come from a patchwork of prime Napa Valley vineyards to create a classic Cabernet Sauvignon the way my family has made it for five generations.
Joseph Wagner, Winemaker