Arbios Cellars | Praxis Cellars
Napa Valley AVA
Medal-winning wines from an artful and innovative winemaker who has earned great respect in the industry
'Praxis makes perfect!' Praxis Cellars is a small Sonoma County family winery that was founded by Bill Arbios and his wife Susan in 2000, seven years after they established their first winery brand, the reputable Arbios Cellars. Praxis is derived from the Greek word for practice, as a doctor or lawyer practices his craft. The word Praxis was also a pre-Arts and Crafts philosophy in Europe, emphasizing the importance of striving for perfection, while knowing that it will never be achieved. It has been a fitting name for the wine label, as it offers Bill Arbios the opportunity to 'practice' his craft with different wine varietals from various wine regions in California. Praxis wines are never blended, and instead, are intended to showcase specific varietals from single vineyards. Today, the rather successful sister label offers an incredibly diverse and exciting portfolio of wines produced from California's top wine regions.
Bill Arbios has been an artful and innovative winemaker for over forty years now, but he happened upon his career by chance. While pursuing his childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian at UC Davis, he took a summer job at a vet's office where he soon realized that being a vet was more emotionally challenging than he had expected (and he risked caring for a backyard full of unwanted dogs and cats). While surveying the University catalog, Bill noticed a class called 'Introduction to American Wine,' and knowing that UC Davis is one of the best enology schools in the world, he thought he might as well learn something about wine while trying to figure out what he really wanted to do. Soon after Bill began studying the subject, he fell in love with winemaking, and he was thrilled that is encompassed chemistry, biology, physics, and bacteriology, as well as art and creativity. He was hooked!
After graduating in 1973, Bill immediately embarked on his career in the wine industry. Prior to launching his first label (Arbios Cellars) in 1993, Bill held winemaking and consulting positions for several well-known wineries throughout Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and the Central Coast, including stints at Château Soverain, Lyeth, Fieldstone and Jarvis. In addition to his winemaking and vineyard management skills, Bill also gained extensive experience designing wineries from the ground up. While Bill enjoyed his successful career making wine for many prominent estates, he always felt somewhat restricted working for large wineries and yearned for his own roots. With the creation of Arbios Cellars and Praxis Cellars, Bill's dream of expressing his own vision and creating something lasting is now being realized. While Bill handles the role of winemaker, his wife Susan is responsible for much of the business side, including direct sales. Together, they have earned great respect in the industry and couldn't be happier for Arbios and Praxis' cult status success. We are ecstatic to present their limited-production 2015 Pinot Noir to our Gold PLUS! Wine Club members!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members:
My wife, Susan and I are delighted to have our 1999 Arbios Cabernet Sauvignon featured as one of this month's Platinum selections. We are a small, family-owned operation. I make the wine and handle the distribution while Susan picks up all of the other pieces and keeps us on track. We are working together to make our dream come true and are pleased to introduce our wines to you in this way.
I began making wine over 30 years ago after I realized that I was not cut out to be a veterinarian. (I would have had a house full of strays!) Since my days at UC Davis, I have been the winemaker at a number of Sonoma and Napa wineries, but always longed to have my own label. Ten years ago, I launched "Arbios” with 125 cases of wine from a single hilltop vineyard - the highest and northernmost vineyard in the Alexander Valley. We are still producing our Cabernet from the same vineyard, but in 1999 we produced 2,500 cases. I do as little as possible to the fruit to allow its bright balance and incredible depth of character to shine. I believe this helps to evoke a real sense of place or terroir in our wines.
We hope you will enjoy our wine with friends and family. We feel the wine drinks beautifully now, but will age from 10 to 20 years more.
Bill Arbios - Winemaker
Bill Arbios - Owner & Winemaker
Bill Arbios grew up in the town of Paradise (you read correctly), a small California town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Paradise is not far from Chico, which is now famous as the home of the heralded Sierra Nevada beer, beloved by numerous collegians. His family has lived in California for six generations and was engaged in a number of professions.
Arbios was well into realizing his childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian when he suddenly realized his love for animals and many people's lackluster attitude toward animal neglect would someday provide him with a backyard full of unwanted cats and dogs. "I just couldn't stand the idea of someone putting down a cat or dog if the cost of helping the animal was too high,” he recalled. "I started to think that the vet field was maybe not where I wanted to be.” The good news was he was still an undergraduate at the University of California Davis, which just happened to house the supreme oenology school and an array of the finest professors in the entire wine world.
Seeing many similarities in the veterinary/oenology curriculum, Arbios decided to embrace the creative and complex aspects of winemaking. A number of wine appreciation and associated courses later, he graduated from Davis in 1973, and immediately launched his career in the wine business. For the next three years, Arbios served as assistant winemaker for the extensive Château Souverain in Sonoma during its massive building program. He moved next to Field Stone Winery in 1976 where he was winemaker. The Field Stone project became the first underground winery to be built in California since Prohibition. From there Arbios moved to William Wheeler Winery in 1980 and then, two years later, to the newly-established and cutting edge producer Lyeth in Sonoma where he served as both winemaker and general manager. That stint lasted until 1989 and as he put it, ‘is still a project I am working on.”
With his statue as winemaker quite secure, Arbios also served as consultant to a number of high profile wine entities including the remarkable Jarvis Winery in Napa Valley where he designed and implemented all the state-of-the-art underground winemaking facilities.
He was 39 at the time he and his wife Susan decided it was time to produce their own wines in 1993. "At the time I considered myself a sort of vagabond winemaker,” Arbios recently confessed. "I had actually worked for so many people and seen so many things happen in the wine business that I couldn't control that I thought I could finally do it for myself. While I always considered winemaking an artistic pursuit, I always wanted to put my own spin on it. Arbios Cellars has allowed me the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is.” Arbios was also aware that many wineries were forced by economic necessity to compromise the quality of their wines, something that Bill Arbios was determined not to let happen in the case of his namesake winery.
"If you had been in as many different situations as I had,” he added, "you would know what I mean. Many times we were forced to take shortcuts and you know what that entailed. I was adamant that we not expand Arbios until the time was right and we could do it correctly. If it meant waiting for ten years for something to happen, both Susan and I were willing to wait.”
Arbios' waiting eventually evolved into the purchase of a property that had been abused for more than fifty years. He takes particular pride in restoring it to a useable vineyard.
"The land had been logged sometime during the 1930's,” he related. "It was really in pretty bad shape when we took it over. There were huge ravines and practically no drainage. But its proximity to our existing vineyard supply made the project doable. I knew if I could straighten it all out, I could make it gorgeous and useful. It was a real labor of love to get it all completed.” The now picturesque land will provide usable fruit next year (2007) and Bill Arbios' eyes light up at the prospect of having his first estate wines.
"It's what I worked for my entire career,” he finalized. "It will be up to me to make its wines worthy of such surroundings.”