630 Years of Winemaking—All Still in the Family
The name Antica originates from the words Antinori and California, and represents the Antinori family’s longstanding desire to craft exceptional estate wines that are a true expression of Napa Valley terroir.
The Antinori’s family’s 26 generations of winemaking history has long been synonymous with the famed winegrowing regions of Tuscany and Umbria. Today, their wines are among the most recognized and highly rated of Italy.
But the Marchese Piero Antinori and his daughters, Albiera, Allegra and Alessia, are also known for seeking out the undiscovered potential of specific wine regions while staying true to the tradition, culture and taste of Antinori wines.
The Antinori Family
630 Years of Winemaking Excellence
The Antinori’s family’s winemaking history has been synonymous with the famed wine growing regions of Tuscany and Umbria since its inception more than six centuries ago, when Giovanni di Piero Antinori entered the “Arte Fiorentina,” the Winemakers’ Guild of Florence, in 1385.
Today the firm is run by Piero Antinori and his three daughters: Albiera, Allegra, and Alessia. Throughout its storied past, the family has managed this work with a fundamental respect for tradition and the territory in which they have operated. Today, their wines are among the most recognized and highly rated of Italy.
The cornerstone of the family’s philosophy has been that quality is a long-term and ongoing commitment, and the Antinori family’s centuries of successful wine production is due in no small part to this commitment.
It’s what gives the family a perspective that is unique in the wine world, and allows them to think beyond a single vintage or a single place, and to make bold choices while remaining true to the tradition, culture and taste of Antinori wines.
Which is why they have also sought to tap the potential of wine regions beyond Italy. “Ancient roots play an important role in our work, but have never been a limit to our innovative spirit,” says Marchese Piero Antinori.
So the estates in Tuscany and Umbria have been joined, over time, by investments in other territories with potential for high-quality wine—which is what attracted Piero Antinori to the Napa Valley as early as the 1960s, and led to the establishment of Antica Napa Valley.
Beyond new sites, the Antinori firm constantly seeks ways, big and small, to further quality, both in the vineyards and in the cellars. These efforts include experimenting with: new clones of grape varieties; cultivation techniques; vineyard altitudes; fermentation practices and temperatures; types of oak for aging; the sizes and age of the casks and barrels; and aging times both in the barrel and the bottle.
“Piero Antinori is without doubt one of the most brilliant activators in the art of making wine at once progressively innovative and respectful of tradition, Antinori is intelligent, shrewd and eloquent, with the energy to make things happen in a way that would quickly exhaust more common men.”
A Long-Term Vision and Plan
Over the years, as vineyards were planted and caves dug, some of the partners changed, but Marchese Antinori remained steadfast in his desire to develop this site. In 1993, the family purchased the estate outright.
But used to thinking in terms of decades when making strategic business decisions, Antinori leased the property back to one partner for 15 years. “All three of my daughters have the two ingredients most necessary to produce fine wine: brains and passion,” explains Antinori, “but this gave Albiera, Alessia and Allegra time to hone their business experience, and allowed us to lay the groundwork for properly launching our new wine estate in Napa Valley.”
In 1994, they built the winery; in 1998, the family purchased the adjoining Townsend property, which included 24 acres of prime Cabernet vineyard; and two years later, they planted Chardonnay on the original estate, which would allow the family to begin production before the lease was up.
Upon the completion of the lease, the estate was named Antica Napa Valley—Antica being a combination of Antinori and California, as well as the word for “ancient” in Italian. The first releases were a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2006 Chardonnay, both released in 2007.
Blending Old World and New World
Like the winery name, the winery production is also an Old World/New World blend, with Antinori Chief Enologist Renzo Cotarella and the Antica winemaking team working together to craft the finest expression from each vintage and vineyard block, from vine to bottle.
Three wines—the Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Townsend Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon—are available in select markets across the US and abroad.The others are designated limited-production estate wines, available only from the winery. These include Sangiovese, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and a Fossino, a rosé of Pinot Noir.
“Our goal is to first and foremost make quality wines with a strong local identity,” Albiera Antinori says of her family’s wine business. “Rather than a ‘house style,’ we prefer to the let each site speak for the wine. So while Antica remains true to our tradition and culture, its wines are indelibly imprinted with the terroir of Napa Valley.”
The Vineyard Is Our Stage
There are 600 acres of vineyards planted in an amphitheatre-like setting, surrounded by steep slopes on all sides and at the headwaters of two watersheds that flow through deep canyons to the Napa Valley below.
The original estate is planted to primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but also the classic Bordeaux blending varietals and Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sangiovese and Sauvignon Blanc, each planted to take advantage of the range of microclimates and soils found on the estate. The adjoining Townsend Vineyard, is set high on the ridge overlooking Rector Canyon and Napa Valley, on a west-facing slope of well-drained, volcanic soils. The fruit from this site is featured in its own vineyard-designated bottling named in honor of the neighbor from whom we purchased the property.
Our 1200-acre estates has 600 acres of vines on it, planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, as well as smaller amount of Bordeaux blending varietals, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sangiovese and Sauvignon Blanc.
Situated above the fog line, the estates offers a mix of steep, rocky, well-drained soils in its higher elevations and loamy, well-drained soils in the lower ones. There are more than 50 blocks within the estate, a true patchwork quilt that takes advantage of the variations in soil, elevation and exposure to best match varietal, rootstock and clone to attain the ideal expression of this site.
The highest elevations of the property, built on the mountainsides, are planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon and its blending varietals: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
The high altitude (1,800 feet) means cooler daytime temperatures and a sunny haven above the fog line during the growing season. Heat inversion also means warmer nighttime temperatures.
The steep, rocky and well-drained soils result into low yields (three pounds) per vine, but the fully ripened grapes show great structure with concentrated fruit, and focused and persistent flavors. Tannins are ripe, balanced, and integrated.
The lowest elevations, still at 1400 feet above the valley floor, are in the Foss Valley that is perfectly suited for growing Chardonnay. Typically it’s still above the fog line, so that full day of sunlight gets to work its magic on our Chardonnay grapes, too, which we’ve planted here in rows of loamy, well-drained soils. Nighttime temperatures are even cooler here than the estate’s higher elevations, which brings out Chardonnay’s aromas and flavors while maintaining acidity. The resulting wine is rich and creamy with refreshing fruit flavors and hint of minerality.
The Sangiovese grapes grow in the far northeastern corner of the estate, the Syrah in the heart of the estate, Sauvignon Blanc in the southeastern corner and the Pinot Noir close to its Burgundian cousin, the Chardonnay.
After purchasing the property that would become Antica Napa Valley, Piero Antinori befriended his neighbor, June Townsend, almost immediately. She lived a simple life on top of her mountain, and was generous with her kindness.
Antinori purchased the 24-acre property from her when she decided to sell it in 1998, and even though she is no longer with us, we felt it only right to keep this very special vineyard named for the very special woman who was its steward before us.
Set high on the ridge overlooking Rector Canyon and Napa Valley some 1600 feet below, this vineyard is planted on a west-facing slope of well-drained, volcanic soils. Townsend Vineyard’s architecture is based on Antinori’s philosophy for new vineyards in Tuscany: high-density vine spacing ensures low production of fruit per vine, the vine rows are aligned from east to west to achieve ideal sun exposure, and the vines are trained low to the ground to take advantage of radiant heat from the volcanic rock and soils. Finally, rootstock and clones of Cabernet Sauvignon were chosen to complement Townsend’s terroir, ensuring the best fruit expression.
We bottle this wine on its own, as our Townsend Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
We think Mrs. Townsend would be proud.
Mountain selecT wines
Piero Antinori has defined the guiding principle of the Antinori family’s winemaking philosophy as the necessity to grow its own grapes to maintain ultimate control of wine quality and style from vine to bottle. This holds true with the family’s vineyards from Tuscany and Umbria to Napa Valley.
The 1210-acre Antica Napa Valley estate occupies an elevated plateau tucked in an amphitheater-like setting of steep mountain tops rising to Atlas Peak with an altitude of 2700 feet. There are approximately 550 acres planted to vineyard: 60% of which are Cabernet Sauvignon planted in 34 blocks, and 30% of which are Chardonnay in 14 blocks.
Each block is carefully planned to take advantage of the soil composition, high elevation and clonal and rootstock selections to limit vine productivity and provide varietal purity in aromatics and flavors.
As harvest nears each year, the Antica winegrowing team selects those mountain blocks—or rows within blocks—that best highlight the characteristics they seek for our Mountain Select Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Approximately 18% -20% of the harvest is selected for the final blend of each, with the remaining fruit sold to other Napa Valley wine producers.
We harvested Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from select vineyard blocks planted at an elevation of 1431 – 1757 feet. The vines are planted to ensure low levels of grape production—about three pounds grapes per vine. This year’s selection of six Cabernet Sauvignon clones and one Cabernet Franc clone from 10 blocks offers the complexity in aromatics and flavors we seek for our Mountain Select Cabernet Sauvignon.
The grapes were harvested in the cool early morning and immediately taken to the winery. After destemming, the whole berries were placed in in stainless steel, and primary fermentation completed in 14 days. The new wine was removed from the skin and pumped into French oak barrels (50% new) where it went through malolactic fermentation and was racked every six months. After 18 months, the wines were tasted, final selections made, and individual barrels racked to create this powerful yet silky rich wine with true Napa Valley mountain-grown character.
We harvested Chardonnay from 4- to 31-year-old vines from select portions of nine vineyard blocks, which are planted at an elevation of 1413-1494 feet. This year’s selection comprised ten Chardonnay clones—nine Burgundian and the acclaimed Heritage Weimer Selection—that together create the complexity in aromatics and flavors we seek for our Mountain Select Chardonnay.
The grapes were harvested in the cool early morning hours and immediately taken to the winery. After destemming, the whole berries were placed in the press for a very gentle release of the Chardonnay juice. The juice was chilled further in stainless steel, inoculated with yeast and transferred to French oak barrels (50% new) to complete primary fermentation in the estate’s wine cave. The wine remained in contact with the lees (sur lie) in the French oak barrel for about 10 months, during which time the malolactic fermentation completed. When ageing was completed, the wine in each barrel was tasted to determine selections for the final Mountain Select blend.
The Antica Team
Chief Enologist / Chief Executive, Marchesi Antinori
Renzo Cotarella is the Chief Enologist and Chief Executive of Marchesi Antinori, responsible for overseeing the vineyards and winemaking for its estates in Italy and California, as well as for its joint venture partnerships in Chile and the US. He works closely with Wine Estate Manager Glenn Salva on both vineyard and wine production aspects for Antica Napa Valley.
Cotarella believes making great wine requires constant trial and error from innovation in both the vineyard and the winery, a belief cultivated during his experiences with the Antinori family’s historic and highly regarded estates in Tuscany and Umbria.
Raised in a winemaking family in Montelrubiaglio, Renzo graduated from the University of Perugia with a degree in Agricultural Sciences. Following graduation, he worked part time overseeing the first plantings of Chardonnay at Castello della Sala in Umbria before becoming its winemaker in 1981. Renzo was named “Winemaker of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2001.
After more than a decade of working for other iconic Napa Valley wineries, Marla Carroll has been named winemaker for Antica Napa Valley, an ideal position and location for her winemaking expertise, strong scientific background and lifelong love of the outdoors and nature.
A California native, Marla grew up in the Tehachapi Mountains, which separate the Southern California High Desert and the rich agricultural lands of the Central Valley. It was growing up here, hiking, camping, backpacking, that lay the foundation for her future interest in viticulture, and the environmental factors of the vineyard that ultimately shape its expression in the wine.
Marla obtained a degree in Biotechnology from the University of California at Davis with a concentration in Microbiology & Fermentation Science. While a few key courses at UC Davis introduced Marla to the world of wine, it was a position during harvest at Charles Krug Winery that sparked her interest in winemaking. She remained there for two years, then spent seven years at Franciscan Estate, moving up in a series of roles, including enologist and assistant winemaker. After some time off with her family, Marla returned to Franciscan Estate as winemaker, spending five years there before taking on the mountain estate at Antica Napa Valley, and all the rewards and challenges that it offers.
Glenn C. Salva
Wine Estate Manager
Glenn C. Salva brings 30 years of Napa Valley winegrowing experience to his work as Wine Estate Manager for Antica Napa Valley, where he is responsible for all winegrowing activities. Glenn assumed the role in 2002 and works to ensure a harmonious blend of Tuscan philosophy and Californian style in the wine and vineyard DNA.
In addition to his Antica Napa Valley responsibilities, Glenn also works with other Antinori and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates joint wine ventures in the Red Mountain region of Washington State, as well as the iconic Stag’s Leap Winery Cellars, also located in Napa Valley.
Glenn earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University, where he majored in Viticulture.
Raised on his family’s ranch, John grew up farming wine grapes and developed a passion for agriculture at a young age. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in Viticulture from Fresno State University, John went on to earn his MBA in Wine Business from Sonoma State University and acquire his Pest Control Advisor and Certified Crop Advisor licenses.
John’s lifestyle of farming, the outdoors, good food and wine serve him well at Antica Napa Valley. He oversees the 600 acres of vines planted across the estate and remains an engaged member of the wine industry.
Consumer and Trade Manager
As consumer and trade manager, Kim Wiss is responsible for overseeing Antica Napa Valley’s brand marketing, hospitality program and direct-to-consumer sales.
Raised in New Orleans, she grew up with a deep understanding of the pleasure that good food can bring, so it was natural that her career began in the vibrant restaurant industry of her hometown. But during a vacation to Napa Valley, she and her husband, Barry, fell in love with wine country’s fine wine and food scene, and uprooted to move here.
Kim parlayed her experience into key hospitality management roles for several wineries, then joined the Napa Valley Vintners trade association, first as the international marketing manager, then as marketing director. In these last two positions, she oversaw the organization’s marketing and promotion of the Napa Valley appellation and the wines of its 300+ members across the US and around the world. She has worked for the Antinori family for 19 years.
Visiting Other Antinori Properties
If you are planning a trip to Italy, we invite you to consider a visit to any of these beautiful Antinori estates.
In the Chianti Classico countryside…
Antinori nel Chianti Classico
Located in Bargino, this estate was opened in mid-March 2013. Concealed within a hill in Chianti Classico, the only part of the expansive facility that can be seen from street level is the restaurant terrace looking out over the vineyards. But below ground are several levels of contemporary architecture that guests can explore, including a winery and tasting room, where the full portfolio of Antinori wines can be tasted; a museum featuring pieces from Antinori’s historic art collection; a wine and book shop; and more. Stationed between each of the attractions are remarkable sculptures and icons by artist collaborators.
In Western Tuscany…
Located in the western hills of Tuscany, this estate was named in honor of the wild myrtle that grows in the area. The cellar is located atop a low hill that overlooks the property, and is, in large part, underground in order to minimize its impact on the environment and to maintain a naturally perfect cellar temperature. The property encompasses 675 acres, 400 of which are planted to vineyards. There are also 37 acres of organically cultivated fruit orchards (peaches, plums, apricots, pears, and blueberries), and the property is surrounded by olive groves and woods.
Tours and tastings at the winery available by reservation only:
+39 (0564) 944003 or +39 (347) 4610704
Fattoria Le Mortelle
Loc. Ampio Tirli 58043
Castiglione della Pescaia (Grosseto) Italia
The wine, the fruit, the vegetables, and the biological jam and marmalade produced at the estate are sold at the Fattoria di Mortelle shop. Visits to the estate and tastings can also be arranged and organized. Daily sale of the estate’s products from 10am to 8pm.
Fattoria La Braccesca
Via Stella di Valiano 10
53045 Montepulciano, Siena
Daily sale of the estate’s products are available between 9am – 1pm and 2:30pm – 5:00pm Tours and tastings at La Braccesca available by reservation only:
+39 347 4751308
For more information about the Antinori family and its other properties, visit http://www.antinori.it/en
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