Napa Valley AVA
The future seems extremely bright for this Napa Valley artisan winery
An incredible passion for the Cabernet Sauvignon grape has propelled this unique Napa Valley winery into the upper echelons of California winemakers.
The aforementioned entity is AuburnJames Winery, a project that began in 2005 in the Livermore Valley of Northern California’s East Bay. A pair of Cabernet aficionados, Matt Ospeck and Jim Frost, shook hands and promised to make the finest wines possible. Ospeck brought his sister, Mary Ann Cope, into the mix and the new winery was born.
Matt Ospeck was an old car devotee and wanted to name the winery after America’s first car company, the Auburn Automobile Company that was credited with the first automobile design way back in 1874. After a meeting with Jim Frost and his sister, the new company decided to adopt AuburnJames as its official name.
The company’s initial release came in 2008, with around 100 cases offered. Much success followed and the company grew rapidly. “We had always intended to move our operation to the Napa Valley,” informed Ospeck, “and decided to make the move when our present property on the historic Silverado Trail became available.” The present property is located across from the iconic Joseph Phelps Vineyards and backs onto the Napa River. It includes six planted acres plus an incredibly attractive traditional tasting cottage for visitors.
Co-owner Jim Frost is also the winemaker for AuburnJames Winery since its inception. Frost is a Cambridge-educated (1978) fellow who formerly operated a micro-crush facility aptly named ‘The Crush,’ that catered to high-end Cabernet Sauvignons that originated within the Napa Valley.
Frost and Ospeck have a remarkable relationship with the almighty Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Ospeck refers to Napa Valley as “a place where Cab is King and a location where Cabernet Sauvignon grows and matures really well.” For the record, AuburnJames Winery produces a fairly wide variety of wines, including a Pinot Noir that has brought widespread praise.
The initial successes enjoyed by AuburnJames Winery was followed by continued triumphs that have propelled the winery to a production level of around 8,000 cases for 2018.
Are you planning on growing larger?
“We really have no idea at this time,” replied a candid Matt Ospeck. “We have come this far with our grower-partners and have excellent relationships throughout the entire State of California to draw from. As long as we can be assured of really top echelon grapes, we have decided to wait and see just where the market takes us.”
Co-owner Mary Ann Cope isn’t just Matt Ospeck’s investor sister. Cope is a recognized art authority and is commonly called AuburnJames Winery’s art envoy. She is responsible for the adage, “There is art in bottles as well as art on bottles.” To this end, AuburnJames Winery produces an artist series wine for its formidable following that has proven very popular. Cope is also known to have a really fine palate and is present when most of the winery’s blending takes place.
Not bad for a former mechanical engineer/art history and economics major from Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and an electrical engineering student from Cambridge.
“My grandfather was part of a Depression-Era family that was totally self sufficient. They had to provide for themselves, but my grandfather decided the family should be able to enjoy wine, so he began making his own. I never tasted it, but the stories handed down made it sound pretty good,” added Matt Ospeck.
It might be interesting to follow the progress of a winery such as AuburnJames, for small wineries are the nucleus of Napa Valley’s continued dominance of certain varietals, particularly on the higher end of the spectrum. Many of these smaller wineries are relative newcomers to the Napa Valley wine scene and their efforts in winemaking and innovation serve as a propellant to larger, established wineries who sometimes tend to sit on their laurels.
The future seems extremely bright for this month’s Diamond Wine Club selection, AuburnJames Winery. Time will tell if it will continue its recent successes.
What about your kids following in your footsteps?
“We have five kids and they have plenty of exposure to wines and wineries,” Ospeck finalized. “I have been watching them and each one has a different take on things. I certainly wouldn’t want to push any one of them, but should they decide on a wine career, I would certainly be elated.”
It is our pleasure to introduce you to AuburnJames Winery. Enjoy!