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Darms Lane Winery - Napa Valley


95 Points, 92 Points, 91 Points, 5 Stars and more . . .

During his lengthy career in the international pipeline business, Larry Bump traveled extensively and was fortunate to experience the wines and cuisines of numerous countries throughout the world. He was sufficiently enamored with the intricacies and delights of the grape that he eventually invested in a fledgling California vineyard and winery. Larry Bump, now 71, explained it this way. “We were fortunate to be able to travel to the mid-east and throughout most of Europe. I became very interested in French Bordeaux wines and also the wines of Italy. When the chance to invest in an upcoming Napa Valley winery presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity to invest in something I thought could be a great deal of fun.”

That was in 1991, and the winery was Crichton Hall Vineyards, and was devoted primarily to Chardonnay growing and production. Ten years later, Bump bought out the other minority partners in the winery and, in 2002, bought the remainder of the property from its original owners. He then renamed the operation Darms Lane Winery in homage to the esteemed road that the property sits on.

“Everyone knew where Darms Lane was,” Bump explained. “It was practically the first road that you came to after leaving the outskirts of the City of Napa. Neighbors include the likes of Laird Vineyards, Groth Vineyards, and Trefethen Family Vineyards, all long-time stalwarts of the Napa Valley wine industry. Since Bump’s interest lay more in red wines than white, he decided on a major makeover for the vineyards of his fourteen-acre estate.

“The existing Chardonnay vines had been planted by Far Niente Winery’s Gil Nickel back in the 1980’s but had some phylloxera problems and were in relatively poor shape. I decided to replant the entire vineyard to Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This allowed us some real flexibility when it came to producing outstanding and classically-oriented Bordeaux varietals.” Darms Lane Winery’s first release of its 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (some 450 cases) came in 2007 and was met with outstanding reviews and great praise in the wine press. Little has changed and this year’s production will top off at about 500 cases, a number that Bump conceded is the perfect level for his tiny winery.

“We sell off a good deal of our grape production,” he continued. “I originally wanted to produce a small amount of a particularly high quality Cabernet, and that is what we have managed to do. The 500-case mark allows us to experiment with some other wines and varietals.” Next year will see a Pinot Noir from Darms Lane Winery that was made with fruit from the famous Dutton Ranch in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, the winery’s first departure from Bordeaux varietals and a pet project of Larry Bump.

Another ongoing winery undertaking is a wine dedicated to Bump’s first wife, Linda, who died several years ago of ovarian cancer. Some 150 to 200 cases are produced from a special section of the Darms Lane vineyards that has been named Linda’s Hillside Vineyard. Part of the proceeds from the sale of each bottle of this special wine are sent to a fund in New York that oversees research into the causes of ovarian cancer. While Larry Bump is an everyday participant in the Darms Lane Winery operation, he has plenty of help from his immediate family. His daughter Tricia serves as the operation’s general manager and another daughter, Terry, is involved with the company’s sales and marketing. He recently married his new wife, Carol, serves as an attendee at each wine tasting and winery event and generally helps around the property. This is all quite pleasant for Larry Bump who is perfectly pleased with the development and success of Darms Lane Winery.

“It began as a dream and turned into a charming business,” he concluded. “I knew it could be fun in the beginning but I never expected it to bring the feeling of completeness that it has favored my family with. I have even enjoyed the farming aspect, much more than I anticipated. I was used to running the biggest pipeline company in the world, and that was a different sort of challenge. Right now, I am able to concentrate on some of the finer aspects of the wine business and that is enjoyable. Along with my marvelous winemaker Brian (Mox), we are able to craft some superb wines for our customers. I hope it never ends.”


  1. Darms Lane
    2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Darms Lane
    Bon Passe Vineyard
    Napa Valley

    $52.00

    $60.00
    95 - Quarterly Wine Review
    id: 865
    Special
    Platinum

Dear Platinum Series Wine Club members,

We are very pleased to introduce you to our 2007 Darms Lane Cabernet Sauvignon. When we began our replanting project in 2000 to change over our existing Chardonnay vineyard to Bordeaux varietals, we labored over each and every decision. We carefully chose our rootstock and clone pairings and focused on quality at every step in the process. Our first release of estate grown Cabernet came in 2005 and we were very pleased with the quality of the fruit that we were producing in our vineyard.

In 2007, Mother Nature gave us a gift in the perfect growing conditions for our area. The days were warm and sunny, but not too hot. The evenings were cool and the rain stayed away until after we harvested. All in all we could not have asked for more. We find our 2007 vintage to be nicely concentrated and smooth with fruit forward aromas with a nice hint of mocha.

We love to share our wines with others. We are so very pleased to share this wine with you. We hope that you enjoy our wine with friends and family and create a beautiful memory together. Cheers from our family to yours!

Sincerely,

Larry Bump - Winegrower

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