Just like many in the wine industry, I started my journey here knowing virtually nothing about winemaking. I came to Napa Valley in 1984 to help my mother settle her affairs after my father passed away, but within a month of my arrival my mother also died. Here I was, what was I to do I had just inherited a very lovely property in Calistoga and since I didnīt have many future job prospects, I decided to plant a vineyard and start a winery-it seemed everyone else in the valley had one.
Within a few weeks I planted the vines, filed the proper authorities for the necessary permits, and thus started my winery. My first vintage was less than good, so I bought better grapes for my second vintage and my Bordeaux style blend was the L.A. Times' Wine of the Week on 1/25/90. In the third year my own vineyard produced and I was off and running. The lesson Good grapes make good wine. My vineyard produced excellent grapes, which were in demand by some of the most renowned wineries in the region. I decided that the grapes should make the wine and it was my job to treat them in the best manner possible: keep them clean, blend them to their best potential, put them in the best cooperage that I could afford and the grapes would do the rest. This has been my philosophy and approach to winemaking since the beginning, to harvest the grapes a their peak flavor to reach a soft subtle elegant wine with long lasting qualities, a wine which is pleasant tasted alone yet superb when married to fine food. My wines are very approachable when first released and tend to last at least ten years after bottling; for example, my 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon is drinking very well right now and probably has a few more years to age. Richard Graeser Owner and Winemaker