Crane Family Vineyards
Napa Valley AVA
Producing treasured wines from vineyards in one of the world's idyllic places
A corporate decision by Crane Family Vineyards founder Peter Chiarella’s company to relocate to Napa Valley allowed the financial executive and his wife Frances an opportunity to build a home and plant a vineyard in one of the world’s idyllic places.
That was 1990, and in the nearly thirty years since, Crane Family Vineyards has risen to the heights of a world-class Napa Valley wine producer. By the way, the name Crane Family Vineyards is a tribute to Frances Crane (her maiden name) while the vineyard was named after Don Raffaele Chiarella, Peter’s father who often compared the acreage to land he had known growing up in a small Italian village in Italy’s Calabria Region (the toe of the boot).
In 2012, Peter Chiarella sold the business to his son Tom, 58, a long time corporate executive who had always enjoyed the ambiance and intrigue of his family’s estate and the intricacies of the wine industry.
“It was always assumed that we were fortunate to have a little piece of heaven here on Earth,” Tom Chiarella remarked during a recent interview. “With what our vineyard has accomplished, it would be very hard to dispute that assertion.”
Location wise, the Don Raffaele Estate Vineyard sits at an elevation of around 300 feet on the instep of historic Mount Veeder on Napa Valley’s Western side. It is adjacent to but just outside the confines of the Mount Veeder AVA, one of the most prized appellations in the Napa Valley. Comprising some six (of the seven total) acres, the vineyard faces three directions, east, south and west and is protected from the unfriendly northern exposure. Its soils vary from gravelly loam to alluvial clay and contained shale below the hilltop soil. Needless to say, the hillside location provided excellent drainage for what easily became extraordinary fruit.
“Our vineyard has been compared to those of the Pomerol region (think Château Petrus) of Bordeaux,” Tom Chiarella went on. “The main characteristics of our grapes are intense and unique flavors that represent the terroir of our vineyard very nicely. To us, flavor and aroma are most important in making our wines.”
Production of Crane Family Vineyards wines has leveled at around 1,200 cases each year. “It’s our comfort level,” continued Chiarella. “We use about 95% of our grapes from our Estate Vineyard and when you consider just how much fruit we drop each year, the small yield fits our needs to the proverbial ‘t’.
For the past fifteen years, the winemaking decisions at Crane Family Vineyards have been in the hands of expert Winemaker Alison Green Doran, a 42-year veteran of Napa Valley’s winemaking corps. After graduating from UC Davis, Doran worked the likes of Firestone Winery, Hill Family Estate, Levendi Winery, Nelson Estate and Romeo Vineyards & Cellars among others. Her wines have always been highly praised and her list of awards and high scores is as long as any winemaker in Northern California.
“Alison is a person who knows just how to extract maximum potential for wine quality from a specific vineyard,” added Tom Chiarella. “Many people have always referred to her as the First Lady of Terroir, a label she truly deserves.”
Not much has changed since Tom Chiarella purchased Crane Family Vineyards from his father. Some packaging modifications have improved the finished wines. “We decided to screen print the image of our family home to make the package seem more modern,” Chiarella explained. “Our customers have been extremely loyal throughout the years and seemed to enjoy the artwork on the bottle.”
Many observers feel that Crane Family Vineyards could easily exist in Bordeaux, or Pomerol to be more exact. The wines from this small estate have always been treasured by collectors and its wines have graced the pages of numerous high-caliber restaurants.
Enjoy this Platinum Wine Club selection as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
It is my great pleasure to introduce you to Crane Family Vineyards. We are a small boutique winery in Napa Valley. The winery was started by my parents in 1995 and given my mother's maiden name. We have been growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for more than 25 years on a treasured property on the instep of Mount Veeder. We have purposely remained small so that we may continue to produce hand-crafted wines in very limited quantities under the watchful eye of winemaker Alison Green Doran.
I am very proud to have our 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon included in your Platinum Wine Club allocation. 2012 was a wonderful vintage and we believe this wine lives up to the acclaim. This Reserve Cabernet is representative of our vineyard with its big, round spiciness. The nose is filled with sweet blackberry and licorice with hints of maple and vanilla. Entry on the palate is very smooth with mixed berry flavors, vanilla and violets. This wine pairs very well with a grilled steak.
I hope you enjoy our 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and will share it with family and friends over a great meal.
Crane Family Vineyards