It’s hard not to be enchanted by California. The state’s beauty and natural resources have beckoned people from the far reaches of the world for years. So it’s fitting that after Piero Antinori’s first visit to Napa Valley in 1966, he couldn’t get The Golden State out of his mind.
It took 20 years, but when he returned to California in the mid-1980s, Piero Antinori was a man with a plan. The Antinori family purchased shares in a venture along with England’s Whitbread and France’s Champagne Bollinger to develop a 1,200 acre Napa Valley wine estate on a high plain in the eastern mountains of Napa Valley. The hilly terrain was considered to be above all ideal wine growing country, but while some may have scratched their heads and asked, “Why here?” Marchese Antinori knew that the property’s location—with its rocky soil, high elevation, and drop-dead gorgeous landscape—had great potential for growing quality wine grapes.
For Antinori, this land was love at first sight. So it seemed like fate when the Antinori family was presented with the opportunity to purchase the Whitbred’s and Bollinger’s shares in 1993. The family bought out the partners and happily assumed direct ownership of the estate. Piero Antinori hand-picked reserve blocks that would be used to produce an Antinori Family Napa Valley wine; the remaining blocks were leased under a 15-year agreement that expired in November 2008.
As luck would also have it, a neighbor was looking to sell a property adjacent to the estate. So in 1998, the family bought an adjoining tract of land that included 24 acres of vineyard. This boon gave us an additional selection of grapes to use in our first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon (2001), and though limited in production, it was a small but important first step towards establishing our Napa Valley property.
In 2006, the estate was named Antica Napa Valley—Antica being a combination of Antinori and California, and the word for ancient in Italian. But Antica is more than a name. It’s a symbol that represents the realization of Piero Antinori’s long-standing desire to produce a Napa Valley wine and a milestone in the family’s long winemaking tradition.
Antica Napa Valley’s 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2006 Chardonnay were released in limited quantities to the market in September 2007. But with more than 600 years of winemaking history behind them, this release marked the beginning of another chapter in the Antinori family’s storied winemaking tale.