Cairdean Vineyards & Winery
Napa Valley AVA
A destination location for anyone who enjoys food and wine
It was almost fifteen years ago when Edwin and Stacia Williams first visited Northern California’s magnificent Napa Valley. As with many other trippers, the natural effect of the remarkable milieu and its corresponding ambiance made Napa Valley a natural basis for the Williams’ entry into the wine business.
The couple found a 50-acre site just north of St. Helena (a mile from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America campus) that once housed a premium outlet center. Innovation became the couple’s byword and a major construction project was undertaken.
What was soon to become Cairdean Estate Vineyards is hardly recognizable from its former usage. A 17,000 foot cave has been drilled to complete the winery that was completed earlier this year. Because permits for the land were already in effect, the Cairdean campus included a number of additional businesses owned by the Williams’.
There are four tasting rooms on the property, one in the cave another in the winery and two in the main business area. A small café and deli (Butterscots) has both indoor and outdoor seating. An incredible courtyard area (with a magnificent old cask that was cut in two) has picnic tables and is the site for weddings and gatherings. There is also a retail store (Redolent Mercantile) on the site that features a number of individually-selected goodies from around the globe.
An acre of grapes has already been planted and will add a viticultural touch to the property once the vines reach fruition. On the winery side, Cairdean Estate Vineyards first saw the light of day in 2011 with the release of some 2,500 cases. Each successive year has seen minor increases but owner Stacia Williams has a five-year plan that will increase production to around the 10,000 case levels.
“We now sell almost 75% of our production directly to consumers,” she stated flatly. “But we have begun to seek other markets. Our on-premise (mostly restaurants) is doing quite nicely and we are looking to other areas of distribution as well. You could say we are playing the future by ear.”
Cairdean Estates Vineyards survived the recent horrible earthquake that shook Napa Valley, but lost a 9,000 gallon tank of wine in the process. Edwin Williams, co-owner and Cairdean’s Chief Financial Officer, related that the loss wouldn’t severely impact the winery but that the loss saddened everyone due to the fact that the quality of the wine in the tank was something really special.
The name Cairdean originates from the Scottish-Gaelic dialect and means ‘friends’. The unique symbol on the label reflects the owners’ belief that wine is meant to be shared by those close to your heart. The representation shows four hearts always brought together in the center by friendship.
Cairdean Estate Vineyards is not your typical Napa Valley winery. Its wines have been warmly received by both periodicals and have shown well in top competitions. It is a destination location for anyone interested in Napa Valley and comes complete with an excellent portfolio of fine wines.
It is our pleasure to introduce our wine club members to Cairdean Estate Vineyards. Enjoy!
Stacia Williams - Owner & Winemaker
Owner Stacia Williams is a product of the excellent Fresno State University (actually, California State University, Fresno) enology program that has produced a large number of notable winemakers since its inception. She is aided by Associate Winemaker Cody Stacey, a Utah native and another Fresno State graduate. Stacey also worked harvests in New Zealand and brings an international hand to the operations at Cairdean Estate Vineyards.
Cody has been with the project since its inception in 2011 and, similar to Williams, once made wine in his garage. The two winemakers each possess their own manner of winemaking but work together to produce a remarkable style of wine that comprises Cairdean Estate Vineyards’ current portfolio.
About the Vineyard
The fruit that comprises Cairdean Estate Vineyards’ wines comes from both Napa Valley and Sonoma County, which are both considered at the very top echelon of Northern California’s wine-producing regions.
Each region provides unique terroir for its vineyards and certain varietals grow best in each location. The great Bordeaux varietals (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sauvignon blanc, etc.) are better grown in Napa Valley while Sonoma County’s vast stretches and more maritime-influenced settings are better for varietals such as pinot noir, chardonnay, syrah and others. It is widely accepted that more difficult weather conditions bring out the best in many grape varietals and certain sections of Sonoma County provide ideal venues for these vines.
Early in its inception, Cairdean Estate Vineyards recognized that each region annually produced a number of truly great wines. These wines have generally excelled in competitions and industry reviews for more than the past seven decades.
Stacia (pronounced Stay –sha) Williams
When Stacia sets her mind to something, chances are whatever the project is will eventually come to fruition. The Rhode Island native and Worcester Polytechnic Institute graduate in computer science was firmly entrenched in Massachusetts’ computer industry when she first became enamored with wine.
“I had an uncle of Italian heritage” she related recently, “and there was always wine around his home with all the meals. I started drinking as a teenager and really became interested a little later in life. My interest soon developed into a passion and I became eager to find out more about the winemaking process and what it involved from start to finish.
In 2000, Stacia bought some California grapes and had them shipped to Massachusetts. She started making wine in her garage and the rest is history. With her husband Edwin, a native of Fresno in California’s Central Valley, she became interested in the excellent enology program at Fresno State that Edwin felt would satisfy her craving for the wine industry. The couple eventually relocated to Fresno and Stacia learned winemaking.
The Williams’ eldest son Kyle was partially responsible for the couple selecting Napa Valley as their new home in 2010. He saw that St. Helena had an excellent public high school. “I actually love being outdoors,” Stacia Williams added. “While I originally trained to be a winemaker I have found the other aspects of owning a winery to be quite fulfilling. When it came to developing the complex that is Cairdean Estate Vineyards, I found there was a lot I didn’t know and had to learn. It has all been a very rewarding experience.”
It was Stacia’s idea for the company to sell some of its fruit and source the other. “Right now we are about 50 – 50 and that’s fine with me. I believe this gives us greater flexibility when it comes to making our wines. Our two vineyards provide a diversity of fruit. The one (Truchard Vineyard) is in the Coombsville AVA. It is late hanging and provides us with some incredible cabernet sauvignon. The other vineyard is in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley and provides pinot gris, pinot noir and other varietals.
Her favorite wine is the venerable cabernet sauvignon. She has only visited Bordeaux (the original home of the cabernet sauvignon grape) once, but the wines there made a lasting impression on the female winemaker. Stacia also possesses specific feelings about the fate of wines that she oversees at Cairdean Estate Vineyards. “I am of the school that believes that great wine is made in the vineyard and my job as winemaker is to not screw it up. I simply work with what the vineyards give me, and I don’t try and fight nature. If I can produce a wine that is the true reflection of the terroir involved, then I consider the wine a real success.
Is there a particular style to her wines? “I am always seeking a clean taste on the pallet,” she explained. “I try not to be overly aggressive with the fruit I have to work with. I don’t work well with overripe fruit and always try for what I feel is a perfect balance for each wine.”
Stacia Williams admits to working 200% of the time and tries to insure that the other aspects of the Cairdean Estate Vineyards enterprise catch some of her attention. “I try and spend some time in our other operations, and I am fortunate to have Cody (see winemaker section) and some other great staffers on hand. We all work together quite well and our end product speaks for itself.”
Son Kyle, 19, is still in high school in St. Helena and works part time at the family’s bakery operation. Daughter Brownyn, 9, has definite ambitions in the culinary world and has stated openly that she wants to become a chef.
This is all well and good with Stacia Williams who admits to living a dream with Cairdean Estate Vineyards. “Our family took a giant step in opening the winery and the other stores,” she finalized.
“It’s been really hard work but the end result is that our wines are really well-received. You really can’t ask for more than that.”