Andrew Geoffrey Vineyards
Napa Valley AVA
A single wine entity, something of a rarity in the California wine business
On the surface, the Peter R. Thompson story is not too dissimilar from those of a number of other Napa Valley winery owners. As a student at the University of Southern California in 1974, Thompson visited the Napa Valley and became enthralled with the place and its possible long term prospects.
“It wasn’t so much the winery side of it,” he recently recalled, “it was plainly Napa itself and the style of living and the people there that held my attention. I decided then and there, that one day I was going to become a part of Napa.”
The San Diego native remained true to his dream and after a number of majors at USC, graduated with a Bachelor of Science. Next he entered the business world, where Thompson soon found himself collecting wines. During the next 10 – 12 years, he amassed a representative collection and finally decided to pursue his long time dream in 1992. Over the next three years, he began to actively look at available properties.
Peter Thompson had always held a fondness for the Mayacamas Range’s fabled Diamond Mountain and its great history of Cabernet Sauvignons, but no acreage seemed ever available in that hallowed area. When a small, undeveloped 13-acre site finally became available near the top of the mountain, Thompson visited it as it was placed on the market and immediately purchased the land.
Due to its remoteness and physical layout, the project of turning it into a vineyard was almost more than Thompson had bargained for.
“The entire project took two years,” Thompson, 52, explained. “Most people would have through it almost impossible to make it into a vineyard, but I knew if we were successful, we could have a world class vineyard, similar to the others on Diamond Mountain.”
Thompson persevered and the property was finally converted, making it the first such site to completely comply with the Napa County Hillside Ordinance. Noted viticulturist Rex Geitner (Diamond Creek, Robert Keenan) was named vineyard manager, and Peter Thompson’s nearly three decade old dream materialized. The vines were then planted and the new winery venture was up and running.
The new entity was called Andrew Geoffrey Vineyard in honor of Thompson’s two sons, aged 14 and 11 respectively. Top class winemaker John Gibson (Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Vine Cliff Winery) was brought on board and the rest is history. Andrew Geoffrey Vineyard’s first release of 642 cases in 2000 met with rave reviews and highest accolades. The new winery has grown to around 1,750 cases annually, and will remain at that level due to the comparative size of the small vineyard.
“I am right where I want to be with Andrew Geoffrey," Thompson admitted. “I will admit that I didn’t expect such early success, but that I was always extremely hopeful.”
Peter Thompson’s newest project is an incredible new redwood deck that he recently constructed at the vineyard site. It commands a magnificent view of Napa Valley looking north and is definitely comparable to any other existing view.
“It might not be the best view in the valley but it’s certainly right up there,” Thompson added. “I built it to provide our friends and good customers with a place where they could identify with the uniqueness of the terroir where the Andrew Geoffrey Cabernet they are drinking was born. Our location is simply too remote for a tasting room, but I wanted everyone to experience the same feeling I always get when I set foot on this property. You think you are in another world, a world I am happy to share with my friends.”
Thompson is also adamant about another aspect of his business, that being the fact that Andrew Geoffrey is now, and will always be, a single wine entity, something of a rarity in the California wine business.
“When someone sees a bottle of Andrew Geoffrey, I want them to know it’s a bottle of estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon from Diamond Mountain,” he concluded. “If we only do a single varietal and do it right, it should be something to really remember.”
Thompson is also delighted that young Geoff Thompson seems truly interested inn the winery business and will probably follow his father into the winery.
“That would make everything nearly perfect,” Thompson admitted. “What more could anyone ask for?”