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 during an interview. “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.”
Nils Venge, who is now known as “The King of Cabernet,” produces estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc for the Envy Wines label, and despite his reputation as “The King,” he is a down-to earth, cheerful, full-of-life kind of guy whose wines not only reflect the character of their region, but also seem to reflect his personality - bold, yet approachable, friendly and fun with layers of complexity. He is also the owner and winemaker for Saddleback Cellars and Cougar’s Leap, both also in Napa Valley.
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.
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 skies and fabulous wines before them.
We are delighted to offer this Envy Estate Wines selection in our Platinum Wine Club for your enjoyment.
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Thank you for supporting the Gold Medal Wine Club and for trying wines from our Calistoga winery; our vineyards are located at the very northern end of the Napa Valley floor and heavily influenced by Mt. Saint Helena which draws the heat up from the Valley during the day and rapidly cools the vines at night. In 2016, we were fortunate to receive a relatively even growing season which followed much needed and welcomed winter rains that helped alleviate the drought. We matched a great growing season with talented winemaking and the best French Oak barrels, which resulted in complex, inky wines that display the brooding power of the Calistoga AVA.
We are excited to share the 2016 Envy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon with you. Our Cabernet Sauvignon was selectively picked in three separate passes starting on October 8th and ending on the 12th to ensure optimum ripeness of all the harvested fruit. This resulted in a dark, powerful and muscular wine that has tremendous depth: notes of scorched earth, incense, tobacco, licorice and clover power through to a huge, weighty finish. This is a big, bold wine and it offers a fabulous interplay of ripe fruit and structure.
This is our tenth vintage of making the Envy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and it seems like every year the wine gets better and better. Please relax and enjoy this wine with a great meal, or as a standalone wine, and be sure to visit us if you find your way to the top of Napa Valley.
Mark Carter and Nils Venge,
Dear Platinum Wine Club 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.