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Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards - Napa Valley

92 Points - Wine Spectator magazine

When Jerry and Flora Komes bought the dilapidated old mansion in St. Helena back in 1977 as a retirement home, they had no idea where the venture would eventually lead. The seller was Napa Valley icon Louis Martini, who was pleased to part with the 325-acre property that had recently been abandoned by an eastern lessee without any notice. The property was semi-mountainous and also contained the remains of two 1880-era former wineries that had long stood unused.

Enter son John and daughter Julie, who immediately took fancy to the old Swiss-Italian mansion and its practically undiscovered grounds.

“I guess I had something of a wild hair,” explained John Komes, now 65, and owner of the family wine business now officially known as Flora Springs Winery. “My wife treated me to a wine appreciation course and all at once I was smitten. Up to that point, I never realized that it was possible to distinguish flavors in a wine. I signed up for every wine course that was offered and eventually talked the rest of my family into becoming involved.”

John’s wife Carrie conceived the name for the new winery. Mom Flora gave her first name and Springs was derived from the fact that the property has continuously flowing springs that are its sole water source.

John moved his profitable construction business from San Francisco’s East Bay to Napa Valley where he began building his own winery along with wineries for a number of others. He smiles at the fact that he was able to make a living while pursuing his cherished dream of making Flora Springs a profitable venture.

He enlisted his sister Julie’s husband Pat Garvey who he terms a “true vineyard genius” who took over management of the 60-acres of planted vines. Next, Komes set out to produce his first wine. The initial release of a mere two hundred cases came in 1978 and was mostly sold to family and friends.

“It was really tough going for the first few years,” Komes recalled. “We were forced to plow every cent we made back into the winery just to keep it going. It wasn’t until 1989 that I was able to quit my construction company work and spend full time at the winery.

By that time, a great deal had changed for Flora Springs. Winemaker Ken Dies had joined the company in 1980 and recently celebrated his 25th crush with Flora Springs. Of equal importance was the fact that Flora Springs’ relatively unique style of highly drinkable, fruit friendly wines had caught the attention of both wine writers and the wine drinking public. Flora Springs wines became critical successes and the winery prospered.

Today’s Flora Springs is a living tribute to the family values that John Komes and his family have staunchly employed. Thanks to additional purchases (mostly for investment) by their father Jerry, Flora Springs can boast of owning over 1,100 acres of prime vineyards in ten different locations throughout Napa Valley. Of the annual grape production, the family sells about 80% of the grapes to around thirty competing wineries.

“It’s actually a nice position to be in,” John Komes added. “Through the years we have learned a great deal about the soil and the grapes that are produced in the different microclimates. We can tell exactly what fruit fits our needs and permits us to achieve our particular style of wines.”

Even though Flora Springs has grown to around 50,000 cases, John Komes is adamant that the production remains at present levels. His reasoning for such a position is quite simple.

“We still consider Flora Springs to be a family winery,” Komes added. “We don’t want to follow some of the other family wineries that became so large that there was no discipline regarding growth. When that happens it is impossible to control your fate. The business becomes a monster and the product produced no longer truly represents the family.”

John Komes and Flora Springs Winery seem to have their place within the wine industry figured correctly. Flora Springs produces enough to meet needs and its wines continue to receive superior awards and raves from every sector.

It is fitting that this Platinum Series selection originates from ageless Flora Springs, a winery that symbolizes the true heart and soul of Napa Valley. John Komes and his family richly deserve all the praise and recognition, for they have worked hard for every bit of it.