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Darms Lane Winery - Napa Valley

93 Points, Editor's Choice - Wine Enthusiast

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 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.

“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 managed to do.”

In fact, for the first two years Darms Lane only produced a Cabernet Sauvignon. His production has grown slowly over the years and he has since added a Petite Verdot, Chardonnay, and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir to the portfolio. Darms Lane will release 1,200 cases this year, a level that is quite comfortable for the tiny winery.

Another addition made to the Darms Lane collection is a wine dedicated to Bump’s first wife, Linda, who died several years ago of ovarian cancer. Since 2007, some 150 to 200 cases are produced from a special section of the Darms Lane Vineyard 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 manages the day to day operations and other daughters, Terry and Tina, are involved with the company’s sales and marketing. He recently married his new wife, Carol, who 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
    2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Darms Lane
    Bon Passe Vineyard
    Napa Valley


    93 - Wine Enthusiast
    id: 1366

Larry Bump - Darms Lane Winery Owner

Dear Platinum Series Members,

We are excited to share with you our fifth release of our 100% estate grown, hand-crafted Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is located in the southwestern benchlands of Napa Valley, in the Oak Knoll appellation. The vineyard is comprised of both hillsides and valley floor. The 2009 vintage is one that animated many debates between winemakers. After an ideal growing season, big storms threatened during harvest. Tough decisions had to be made. At Darms Lane, we decided to harvest before the storms. We haven’t regretted our decision one bit.

Dark in color, the 2009 Bon Passe Cabernet exudes intense red cherry notes and touches of violets on the nose. The palate is rich and layered with blueberries, plum and red currants with hints of toffee and cigar box flavors. This mouth filling Cabernet displays firm tannins and finishes with elegance and lengthy wild blackberry notes. This wine has the flavors and suppleness to be enjoyed on its own while maintaining an elegance that will complement many foods.

We love to share our wines with others and we are so very pleased to share this wine with you. We hope that you enjoy our wine surrounded by friends and family.

Cheers from our family to yours!

Sincerely, Larry Bump