Frank Family Vineyards
Napa Valley AVA
"At this point, the winery is where my heart is"
Of all the luminaries who have made their way to Napa Valley and settled into the business of making marvelous wines, none has possessed a more distinctive resume than Rich Frank of this month’s Platinum Wine Club selection, Frank Family Vineyards.
Rich Frank served in a number of top Hollywood positions, including Chairman of Walt Disney Television and Communications and President of Walt Disney Studios. He also oversaw development of the Disney Channel. Prior to Disney, Rich Frank was President of the Paramount Television Group and one of the founders of the USA Network. He was ultimately responsible for television series like Cheers, Taxi, Winds of War and Golden Girls. Talk shows such as Ellen and Regis and Kathie Lee, and movies including Good Morning Vietnam, Pretty Women, Father of the Bride and The Lion King achieved success under his aegis. He was also President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for six years and active in a number of other prestigious associations.
A native of the Flatbush section of Brooklyn and graduate of the University of Illinois, Frank realized an early interest in wine during his celebrated business career. “While at Disney starting in the 1970s, I was required to do a lot of international traveling, particularly to Europe,” he explained. “I was fortunate to be wined and dined wherever we went, at the best restaurants that served the finest foods, and, of course, accompanied by the most superb wines.”
Frank started coming to Napa Valley in the late 1980s for short weekends, and finally purchased a home in Rutherford, one of the factors that made Frank ultimately decide to invest in the wine business. Along with Koerner Rombauer (Rombauer Vineyards), the pair resurrected the old Larkmead Winery in Calistoga that was first constructed in 1884 and is today included on the National Register of Historical Places. The initial partnership was called Frank-Rombauer and produced its first cases (200) in 1992. By the year 1997, the fledging winery had prospered to the point that a name change (Frank Family Vineyards) was necessary to keep it distinguished from Rombauer’s highly successful Rombauer Vineyards.
In 2000, one of the most devastating fires to ever hit the Napa Valley destroyed some 60-70,000 cases of wine. Victims of the fire included all of the Frank Family Vineyards’ inventory as well as the newly bottled prize wines from the heralded 1997 crop. “As you would imagine, the fire was totally devastating to everyone involved,” recounted Frank. “It wasn’t just our wines, but a lot of other wineries who used the facility for storage who were affected. We were fortunate to be able to remove the barrels of our 1998 vintage from the bottom floor and actually had some wine to sell after it aged properly.”
Frank Family Vineyards rebounded from the unfortunate circumstances and continued gaining friends and winning accolades. FFV’s wines were praised by the wine media and supported by a loyal fan base that has continued to grow.
In early January of 2007, Frank and his wife Connie bought out Rombauer’s interest in FFV. “It was simply a matter of reaching the time for estate planning where our assets had to be directed in the right place,” Frank added. “Koerner was continuing to expand his own operation and the parting was extremely amicable.”
The fruit for Frank Family wines come from three estate Napa Valley vineyards including Winston Hill in the prestigious Rutherford appellation (and located on Rich Frank’s personal estate), Lewis Vineyard in the heart of Napa-Carneros and home to the winery’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, and lastly, S&J Vineyard nestled east of the Vaca Mountain range in the Capell Valley. The wines are made by Todd Graff, the winemaker at Frank Family Vineyards since 2003. It is his mission to produce wines that live up to the heritage of the land and the vineyards from which they are from.
Rich and Connie Frank are totally dedicated to the winery and were honored when Frank Family was named the Best Napa Winery of 2012 on the Bay Area A-List. When asked if he would rather be remembered for his fabled career in show business or for the great wines he has produced, Rich Frank put it simply. “At this time, I really can’t say. All I can tell you for sure is that I know I have made a good many more terrible television shows than I have bad bottles of wine. At this point, the winery is where my heart is.”
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Since founding Frank Family Vineyards in 1992, our family strives to cultivate delicious, age-worthy wines that will entice conversation, story-telling and laughter over a good meal with friends and loved ones. With every bottle of wine we make, we imagine these subsequent memories being created in your home and at your table, and it is what drives us each and every day to make great wines.
With 380 acres of the finest estate vineyard sites throughout the Napa Valley, we are able to oversee the winemaking process from vineyard to bottle. Our winemaker, Todd Graff, has been with the winery since 2002, and was instrumental in planting our vineyards in Rutherford, Carneros, and Capell. He has also led our winery and vineyards through the “Napa Green” certification process, advocating the sustainability values that our family holds near and dear.
Our 2013 S&J Vineyard Reserve Petite Sirah is a very special wine, and a personal favorite. It is made with 100% estate grown Petite Sirah from our S&J Vineyard in Napa’s Capell Valley, located in the eastern hills where the warmer climate is perfect for this varietal. The vineyard is named after my grandchildren, Stella and Jeremy. This special site has clay loam-based soils that are reminiscent of the Rutherford Bench, and the cold nights balance with warm days, ensuring even ripening of the grapes. The aromas of the wine are seductive with an enticing blend of blackberry, ripe plum, licorice, black tea and cloves. Graceful yet powerful, the wine has a voluptuous body supported by fresh acidity. The palate is opulent and intense, bursting with rich flavors of black fruit, dark chocolate and spice, with lasting depth.
We hope you enjoy this wine, and I hope to share a glass at the winery with you soon.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Frank Family Vineyards was founded by our family in 1992 with the goal to create a legacy of memorable and high-quality wines for years to come. As we celebrate our twentieth anniversary, we are happy to see that our wines continue to be well-received by critics and our dear loyal fans, who spread the word about Frank Family wines as well as our tasting room. 2012 marks the third year in which our fans awarded Frank Family Vineyards the “Best Winery” in Napa Valley in the annual Bay Area A-List contest sponsored by ABC7 KGO. We credit this to our incredibly hard-working staff, which includes our brilliant winemaker, Todd Graff, who meticulously oversees our vineyards to blend perfectly balanced wines year after year.
Todd created the final blend for the 2009 Napa Valley Zinfandel of 93% Zinfandel, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petite Sirah after the wine spent 18 months in 35% new French oak barrels. The fruit was sourced from mostly valley floor vineyards in Calistoga, Pope Valley and Chiles Valley from vines up to 60 years old. The 2009 Zinfandel is bright scarlet in color and possesses aromas of raspberries, plumbs, leather, brown sugar and white pepper. Medium bodied on the palate, flavors of sweet plumb and caramel are balanced with silky tannins, earthiness and a kick of spice and acidity.
We hope you enjoy our wine and we are glad you have discovered Frank Family Vineyards.
Rich and Connie Frank