Napa Valley AVA
Extremely high marks and rave reviews for practically all wines
Mark Carter’s career is somewhat varied and incredibly interesting. The Eureka (CA) native began as a builder of houses and commercial properties and eventually (in 1986) built a grand Victorian mansion that he named Carter House. Another three splendid Victorians were added to the unique property that sits alongside Humboldt Bay in the Old Town section of Eureka. The houses were made into bed and breakfasts and quickly became a favorite destination spot for numerous visitors. A restaurant, simply named 301 Restaurant, completed the property and soon made Mark Carter a prosperous man.
About the same time, a winemaker in Napa Valley, Nils Venge, was being awarded a perfect 100 by Robert Parker for one of his wines, and the attention the rating received sparked something inside Mark Carter. The grandson of an Italian immigrant who ventured out and secured grapes that he made into a family-style Italian red, Mark Carter’s family had wine with their Sunday dinners starting when Carter was the age of 3. With that interest in wine in his back pocket, Mark Carter decided to seek out Venge with an eye towards starting his own winery.
The two became friends and Venge visited Carter’s enclave numerous times to officiate at winemaker dinners. Venge and Carter’s careers continued successfully, and in 1994, the persistent Carter was finally able to persuade Venge to make some wine for him under the aegis of Carter Cellars. Buying the fruit from varied sources, Carter Cellars did quite well for the next decade. In some years, these sources weren’t as available as in others, a fact that started Mark Carter thinking there might be a better way of approaching the winery business.
He approached Venge again with a proposition—the two would go in together and find an existing winery that would serve as the home for a new entity they would create.
In December of 2006, Venge located a property that fit the bill. Formerly called Calistoga Cellars, the land consisted of 18 acres, eleven of which were plantable. A deal was struck, and the pair huddled together to select a name for the new winery that would serve as the flagship for their associated brands.
Mark Carter wanted to use Venge’s initials, NV, a natural for the area served. But Venge hesitated and a compromise was reached by adding an E and a Y to the existing NV. The pronunciation remained the same and Envy Estate Winery was officially in business.
After its initial release of just 500 cases in 2007, the partnership has flourished, with extremely high marks and rave reviews for practically all of its wines. Volume has risen to around 1,500 cases, a level that will remain steady for the foreseeable future.
“We want all of our wines to be estate wines,” remarked Mark Carter recently. “With the low yield from our vines (about 2 1/2 tons per acre) we can only expect to produce a certain amount of cases. We have some really talented people around the winery, and we want to have complete control of all the quality aspects of our wines. With the superb fruit we get out of our vines it is possible to keep our quality levels quite high.”
During the relatively soft period of the past two years, Envy Estate Winery has sold every bottle of wine it has made.
“When you consider the problems the country has had and the recession it has endured, we feel Envy has done nicely,” added Carter. “Not every winery can say that and a lot have unsold inventory to deal with. We are still learning our vineyard and expect to have even better fruit in the future.”
With a savvy team at the helm, Envy Estate Winery seems poised to join the ranks of California’s top ultra-premium wine producers. They have great grapes, marvelous expertise and a partnership that seems to have been made in heaven.
Mark Carter’s son Joseph has followed his father into the business and augments Envy’s distributor in Southern California. Carter hopes he will remain in the business, a vocation that carter terms “the most rewarding sort of enjoyment anyone could ever experience.”
With the hard part (startup) of the business behind them, Mark Carter and Nils Venge are well on their way to that goal with nothing but blue sky and fabulous wines before them. We are delighted to offer this Envy Estate Winery selection for your enjoyment.
A Personal Note from the Founders
Dear Platinum Series Members,
In 2012 we were fortunate to receive many gifts including an idyllic wine growing season and flawless harvest that we matched with a talented winemaking team. That is why we are thrilled to present to you our 2012 Bee Bee’s Blend – our signature blend of Estate Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sarah. The blend shows loads of fruit and structure, yet it is balanced with a nice level of acidity and minerality that is smooth and long lasting on the palate.
This is our sixth vintage of Bee Bee’s Blend and it seem like every year the wine gets better and better. The wine varies in percentage with each vintage based on the strength of each varietal in any give year.
Relax and enjoy with a great meal or as a standalone wine.
Mark Carter and Nils Venge,
FYI, Bee Bee is the name of Nils’ beloved, but deceased Maltese puppy.