Napa Valley AVA
In an industry where innovation and determination aren’t always contemporaries, Napa Valley’s Eyeris Wines is an excellent case study.
At age 54, Eyeris Wines owner Angelo Pera might easily be considered one of the most innovative vintners in all of California. His route to the upper echelons of Northern California wineries is unconventional at best and his attainments have proven his blueprint for success is definitely worth cogitating.
A native of the Bay Area, Pera took an irregular course for his Eyeris Winery. The product of a classic Italian family, Pera was exposed to wine at family gatherings at an early age. When he entered college, his parents favored a business education for their son at the University of San Diego. Pera did well in school and earned both bachelors and masters’ degrees in the realm of business. He graduated and entered the world of private equity where his schooling was put to good use.
Some time later, his mother hosted a dinner for him and thoughtfully provided a bottle of Opus One to celebrate the occasion.
“I drank the wine and suddenly a light went off in my head,” recalled Pera during a recent interview. “The wine was so wonderful it started me thinking. I suddenly realized the wine industry was somewhere I really wanted to be.”
Pera began investigating wine and winemaking and began making wine for his own use. A number of friends gave advice and Pera continued his efforts into the world of the almighty grape.
By 1995, Angelo Pera felt he knew enough to enter the commercial wine arena. He produced a minimal 630 cases of his first release under his Backstage Winery imprint and continued his strides toward a world-class winery entity.
A little more than a decade ago, Pera entered the super-competitive Napa Valley wine industry with his Eyeris Wine brand complete with a distinctive approach.
“I wasn’t interested in large vineyard fruit, but preferred small, one-to-three acre plots that provided top quality grapes. I spent a lot of time and finally found five different vineyards and took out leases on each. They provide excellent terroir characteristics and allowed me the chance to make single-vineyard wines from each. The growers work closely with us and the results are fantastic.”
Fantastic might just be the understatement of the year. Competition-wise, Eyeris Winery Cabernet Sauvignons have never scored less than a 92-Point rating and have remained at the top of the single vineyard heap since their inception. Periodicals have acclaimed their quality and the competition scores speak for themselves.
Eyeris Winery will produce around 5,500 cases this annum, but some expansion can be expected.
“I would like to add another small vineyard or two in the future, but there’s no hurry. I prefer to focus on our quality standards and leave expansion to others.”
For the record, the unusual Eyeris name again points back to Angelo Pera’s mother, whose name was Iris.
“Around our home, everyone knew our mother was keeping her eye on us,” Pera explained. “So, when it came time to name our new entity, the name ‘Eyeris’ is simply a contraction of my mother’s eyes and name. To authenticate that concept, our label contains a large eye that fulfills the notion of my mother’s eyes watching over our wines.”
The future seems incredibly bright for Eyeris Wines. Pera has put together a top flight winery team that includes his 24 year old daughter, Olivia, who handles the sales and marketing aspect of the business.
“It is particularly gratifying to have Olivia involved in Eyeris Wines’ operation,” Pera added. “She followed me at USD and graduated in business. She brings a fresh approach and makes everything seem more enjoyable. I hope my other children will also join us in the future.”
In an industry where innovation and determination aren’t always contemporaries, Napa Valley’s Eyeris Wines is an excellent case study. Exceptional single-vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignons continue to set the standards on both the national and international stages.
Angelo Pera has stated he wants his wines to last from 20-30 years in bottle and age gracefully in the mien of classical French Bordeaux chateaux. He realizes that many of his wines will be consumed in their early stages, but holds out hope that some collectors and true wine connoisseurs will find a place in their cellars for some of his bottles.
“It was my dream when I began all this to produce as perfect a wine as possible,” he finalized. “I will continue on that pursuit as long as feasible.”
It is a distinct pleasure to introduce this great Cabernet Sauvignon to our Diamond Wine Club members. Enjoy it and remember its story. Cheers!