Napa Valley AVA
Relishing in every moment, every twist and every turn of their winemaking adventure
A chance meeting at a fundraising event about cystic fibrosis research between Terry and Pam Davis and Australian winemaker Wayne Donaldson led to the development of this month’s Diamond Selection, the 2015 Frisson Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder.
At the time, Terry Davis was an entrepreneur par excellence, and had just bought a second home in Yountville, Napa Valley. After friending Donaldson, Terry Davis told him of his desire to produce a small amount of his favorite varietal, the venerable Cabernet Sauvignon, from a small vineyard if some fruit became available.
Donaldson found a near-perfect quantity of Diamond Mountain fruit that became obtainable, and the small winery concept suddenly became a reality.
Davis’ wife Pam was a copywriter by trade and quickly coined the French word, frisson, for the name of the new winery. Frisson means a thrill in French, and Pam Davis used it to express her wonderment at realizing her (and her husband’s) dreams of owning a Napa Valley winery.
The first release of Frisson Vineyard occurred in 2009, a tiny production of only 150 cases. The winery continued to prosper, and numerous awards and extremely high scores began to accrue for the modest operation.
“One year we received four 90-plus scores from Robert Parker,” related Terry Davis. “We were buying fruit from some really top vineyards and the scores indicated we were doing the right thing.”
Today’s Frisson Vineyard production has leveled off at around 1,000 cases, a mark Terry Davis calls, “my comfort level.” All Frisson Vineyard wines are produced at the impeccable Laird Family Estate Winery, one of the finest facilities in Napa Valley.
“I can’t say enough about Laird,” commented Terry Davis. “They do everything right and there’s no skimping or cutting corners. If you can’t make a great wine at their facility, something is wrong with your grapes.”
“I guess I enjoy the sourcing from great vineyards and the different aspects of actually making the wines come to life,” replied Davis. “Then we go to different events and get to meet some of our wonderful customers and hear their comments on our wines. That’s the really fun part of this business and Pam and I tend to enjoy it to the fullest.”
Initial Winemaker Wayne Donaldson left Frisson Vineyard some years ago and took a job in another part of the wine business. His place as winemaker was assumed by Paul Colantuoni, a noted winemaker in his own right who was formerly associated with Ehren Jordan at Neyers Vineyards (think Pritchard Hill for starters), another elite Napa Valley entity. Colantuoni also completed stints in Tuscany and France’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape prior to beginning his work for Frisson Vineyard. In Colantuoni’s own words, “My goal is to make charismatic wines with lots of flavor and aromatics, without sacrificing elegance. I try to make wines that are very intense and expressive, but they must also be balanced and authentically convey the character of the vineyards.
“I like to think that the wine we put into the bottle is the wine I like to drink for myself,” added Terry Davis. “Pam and I have traveled all over the world and tasted wines of every sort and nature, but the wines we make at Frisson Vineyard mirror the wines we enjoy at our table and in our home.”
If passion about wine has anything to do with a winery’s success, Terry Davis is clearly at the top of the list of devoted winery owners.
“I owned a number of different types of businesses before we entered the wine arena,” he further explained. “None of them even came close to giving me the satisfaction and frisson that the wine business always has. We have met so many lovely people on our wine journey and, from their comments, provided them with many stimulating and rewarding taste experiences.”
Wineries such as Frisson Vineyard fulfill a much-needed niche among Napa Valley’s boutique wineries. By carefully selecting the fruit for their varietal selections, and paying considerable attention to style and presence, they prepared to compete with much larger winery operations that spread their resources over a much wider field of concentration.
It is a great pleasure to introduce our Diamond Wine Club members to the amazing wines of Frisson Vineyard and its owners, Terry and Pam Davis. We know this taste experience will remain with you for months and years to come. Enjoy!