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Amizetta Vineyards & Winery - Napa Valley


93 Points, Gold Medal winner, U.S. Winery of the Year

The fact that both their families were agriculturally oriented made Spencer and Amizetta (pronounced ahm-ah-zet-uh) Clark’s entry into the wine business make a great deal of sense. The time was 1979, and the Clarks had recently completed their migration to San Francisco from their home in Houston, Texas.

Spencer was a professional musician, and his band, Chameleon, had met with some success. But, Spencer was determined to become a studio musician and resettled in San Francisco with his childhood sweetheart and wife Amizetta. His early childhood included the rice business while Amizetta’s family had been active in the spice business and other agri-businesses. A day trip to the nearby Napa Valley proved fortuitous to the Clarks. They fell deeply in love with Napa Valley and Spencer Clark decided to change his life ambition to grape growing.

“We both knew at once that the wine business is where we wanted to be,” Spencer Clark recently recalled. “I immediately got a cellar rat job (he did everything asked) at Sterling Vineyards and then another position with Charles Shaw. Then, we started looking for a suitable site to begin growing grapes.”

A picturesque 20-acre parcel atop Howell Mountain beckoned, and the Clarks found themselves planting vines on terraced spots above the Napa Valley. This was 1979, and the great California wine rush was just beginning. Three years later, the Clarks were able to add an adjoining 20 acres to their property and for the next fifteen years, they actively supplied high quality fruit to neighboring wineries. Sometime in 1985, plans were detailed that led to the building of a winery on the property.

Spencer named the winery after his wife whose family name was fifteen generations old and could trace back to Pocahontas and the Algonquin Tribes. He next contacted Justin Meyer (of Silver Oak Cellars fame) to be a consultant and the rest is history.

“Justin felt the good soils meant great wines were possible,” added Clark, “and we sort of took it from there.” The company’s initial release of around 500 cases occurred in 1986 and was met with outstanding reviews and high scores in competitions.

“We sort of expected the wines to be good,” Clark confessed. “Other wineries had made some exceptional wines from our grapes and we figured we could do the same.” From relatively humble origins, Amizetta Vineyards has become a major player in the Napa Valley’s cadre of top quality wineries. All wines are estate grown and produced, and will remain so in the future.

And, happily for both Spencer and Amizetta Clark, their venture has grown into an entity called Amizetta Estate Family Vineyards and Winery. Production has grown to around 3,000 cases, depending on what each low yield harvest (the yield averages between 1 ½ to 2 tons an acre) affords the winery. Two of the couple’s sons, Perry and Edward, are now part of the winery business.

Perry graduated from UC Davis and earned a Wine Business Master’s Degree and is now considered the president of the entire operation. He also handles the sales and marketing aspect of the still smallish business. His younger brother, Edward, opted to attend Fresno State and major in enology and viticulture. Edward is now the full-time winemaker for Amizetta Vineyards and Winery and responsible for many of the recent awards and scores.

Amizetta Vineyards also enhanced their breathtaking estate with the addition of a 2,000 foot cave a few years ago that also includes a dining area and tasting room. Some 200 barrels are included that lends impeccable ambience to the entire operation. Unfortunately, access to the cave and dining area is by appointment only. Amizetta Vineyards and Winery is the result of a good deal of hard work and some exceptional long-range planning on the part of its owners. With the new growing laws in effect for Napa Valley, the terraced Amizetta Estate property is among a handful of grandfathered sites that cannot be duplicated in the future, insuring spectacular views and vistas forever.

Both Spencer and Amizetta Clark (she still runs the business, and according to her husband has her hands in everything) truly deserve the quality tags their wines have earned them over the years. They have concentrated on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot exclusively, and on the wonderful blends these great Bordelaise varietals produce.

The Clark family is also responsible for the winery’s final blendings, the perfect way it should be for a family-oriented and developed operation.


  1. Amizetta
    2008 Proprietary Red Blend
    Amizetta
    Complexity
    Napa Valley

    $35.00

    $40.00
    93 - Beverage Testing Insti.
    id: 955
    Special
    Platinum

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