Napa Valley AVA
Becoming a big winery will never be part of the plan
Hiatus Cellars’ owner Mark Davidowski has a resume that many winery owners would like to have. He has worked as a distributor’s representative, owned a wine store in San Diego, and even imported wine from Bordeaux during this period in his business life.
A native of San Francisco, Davidowski earned a degree in business administration at the University of Colorado. He has put those business skills to good use during his extensive odyssey through the wine industry.
“I guess I’ve done practically everything you can in the wine business,” he offered recently. “Now I’m the owner of a winery and I’m having the time of my life doing it.” Davidowski’s approach to his winery is unique and could be a model for future entrepreneurs to follow.
“I didn’t want to tie up my investment in land or facilities,” he explained. “So I went out and sourced some really fabulous fruit from vineyards. I then found three winemakers whose specialty was that particular fruit and I gave them the freedom to make what they thought were best for the fruit. So far, their efforts have been met with incredible praise and success.”
The three winemakers, Steve Reynolds (Reynolds Family Winery), Rolando Herrera (Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Vine Cliff and others) and Bryan Page (Page Cellars, Revolver Wine Company) are all top winemakers with extensive credits and numerous awards and scores for their respective wines. In addition, Herrera is in charge of the farming aspects of the Hiatus Cellars operation.
Davidowski also admits to drinking wine as a teenager. His family featured a European approach to dining and drinking so the wine bug was established early in Mark’s life.
His family also owns a 20+ acre vineyard in Napa Valley that Mark intends to develop as an estate production arm of his present company.
Hiatus Cellars is a comparative newcomer to the California wine scene having offered its first production in June of 2013. The first 75 cases were part of a tiny 325 cases bottled for Hiatus Cellars’ initial year.
“This year we will jump to around 1,000 cases,” he projected. “And we will probably top out at between 2,500 and 3,000 during the next two to three years. I never want to grow to be a 5,000 to 10,000 case winery.”
The reasoning behind that statement is the fact that Hiatus Cellars is strictly a one-man show, namely Mark Davidowski. “Since I am the only real employee, I want to keep it small at this point,” he emphasized. “I need to administer the business while slowly growing the production. My biggest problem is managing my time so that everything gets finished in a timely manner.”
The addition of his estate fruit will greatly expand Mark Davidowski’s business plan. No name had been decided for the estate aspect but the vineyard’s present name raises some unique possibilities.
“Believe it or not, our vineyard is called Vangone Vineyard,” he recanted. “When our family first bought the property some twenty plus years ago, it included an abandoned van on one section. The van wouldn’t start and it seems some hippies were using it to grow weed for their own use. Somehow the police found it and cited us for being the property owners. We tried everything but nothing would get it off our land. We told the vineyard manager that we didn’t care how, but somehow it had to be removed. One month later, it suddenly disappeared. From then on, it was called the Vangone Vineyard and the name has stuck ever since.”
The attractive label that is Hiatus Cellars also bears relating. The label features two colors, intended to duplicate the best soil types found in Napa Valley. One involves the high volcanic granite found through the hillsides and the other the richer base soils that are the valley floor.
The label itself contains a four-pointed apex that represents the four key points of winemaking. These are vineyard, winemaking, passion and clear vision. Mark Davidowski feels that without each of these elements working in unison, it is impossible to produce truly exceptional wines.
It is easy to see why Hiatus Cellars has enjoyed such early successes. The plan for the winery is well conceived and the product well-presented. We predict continued successes for Mark Davidowski and his pet project (we also hope the name Vangone Vineyards sticks) for the immediate future and for the long term. It is our pleasure to have introduced you to this remarkable winery. Enjoy!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
I’m thrilled to have the opportunity for you to try our flagship wine, the Hiatus Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. We created Hiatus Cellars with a vision to create wines showcasing the unique character of Napa Valley by pairing great vineyards with their winemaking soul mates. We choose to contract with vineyards of exceptional character and select winemaking partners who share in the vision of each project. In the case of our Cabernet Sauvignon, we’ve partnered with Steve Reynolds from Reynolds Family Winery.
Steve and I have enjoyed a long standing professional and personal relationship of close to two decades and the clarity with which we communicate on production and handling of this prized fruit is essential in ensuring we create an exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon that is anything but the norm for Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the flagship grape for all of the Napa Valley. In recent years, much of the valley’s Cabernet Sauvignon has become stellar in quality but also lost a touch of that personality which, as wine enthusiasts, we relish. Technology has provided us the tools to soften the edges and correct many of the imperfections prevalent in the fruit when it comes in from the vineyards. We have accomplished this at a cost of dulling the personality from these fantastic vineyard sites.
One of the goals of Hiatus is to find that balance between technology and personality to create wines showcasing the amazing terroir present in the valley while still taking full advantage of the opportunities the explosion of winemaking technology offers us.
The resulting 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet, our fourth vintage, showcases just that desire for balance. We harvested later than most, providing for rich, lush fruit flavors showcasing the typicity of the Stag’s Leap and Southern Napa Valley. Our winemaking methods have resulted in a powerful yet elegant Napa Valley Cabernet. It has allowed the earth, spice, and fruit character of each vineyard to be showcased in a wine that is focused, structured to age, but supple enough to enjoy in the present. A good decant offers a fantastic experience now, but 10-15 years of bottle age will truly unlock the potential of this bottling. I hope you enjoy our efforts and come back to see how we evolve in the future.
Proprietor & Vintner