Napa Valley AVA
93 Points Wine Enthusiast - 92 Points Wine Spectator
Even though his family background is steeped in the traditions of Napa Valley grape growing and winemaking, John Anthony Truchard was determined to become successful in the wine business on his own volition and with his own planning. The son of highly successful Carneros legends Tony and JoAnn Truchard (Truchard Vineyards), John Anthony Truchard is now 37, and the owner of John Anthony Vineyards, this month’s Platinum Series Selection.
“I had always dreamed of growing grapes and making wines to sell,” recalled John Anthony Truchard in a recent interview. “I wanted it so much that I even went to UC Davis to study enology. What happened there I really didn’t expect.” Faced with the reality of one day operating a winery, Truchard switched his major after his junior year and chose to follow a course that resulted in a managerial economics degree.
“I saw just how difficult it would be to be successful, and I felt I had learned a great deal from my Dad as I was growing up. I knew I still had a great deal to learn about making wine and growing grapes, but if I wasn’t able to control the business and sell the wines, I wouldn’t be very successful.”
Before finishing his degree, John Anthony began testing the waters and seeking information from industry insiders. He consulted with successful Napa Valley vineyard manager (and now winery owner) Oscar Renteria and several others and figured that leasing land was preferable to buying and greatly increased his cash flow. He began a small vineyard management business in the mid-1990’s and started collecting a string of customers that would aid his later efforts. Shortly before the turn of the century, Anthony planted the first vineyards that would constitute the fruit that his own winery would utilize. He selected a small patch on the western edge of the Oak Knoll Appellation just below the base of the Mayacamas Range that provided good drainage and soil mixture for Cabernet Sauvignon. Three years later, the first grapes went into making the first John Anthony Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and also into the history books. The first release of only 879 cases earned incredibly high marks and rave reviews and the tiny company was provided a jump start into the wine business.
“I was naively prepared for such success,” added John Anthony, “because my wife Michele and I were so committed to it all. But now I realize we were also really fortunate. We were in reality, monetarily boot strapped in the beginning and we just did what we could afford. My parents helped with loads of advice, but we wanted to make it all happen on our own.” This year’s production will exceed a bit over 7,000 cases of all varietals (Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc are also produced), but Cabernet Sauvignon remains the winery’s bell weather product.
“We wanted to make our wines to the taste that we enjoyed,” Truchard explained further. “We also needed to make a wine that was representative of the district (Oak Knoll) that produced the fruit. We sought to make wines that were truly concentrated and evoked a pure red cherry flavor. We tried for enough acidity to give them backbone and also sought to make the tannins soft on the palate.” With an engaging label that has shared the national spotlight in label competitions, John Anthony Vineyards is well on its way to securing a spot in the higher echelons of Napa Valley wineries. Continued success in ratings and events has helped fuel the small winery’s rise. Plans for a tasting room to be located in downtown Napa are being finalized for later this year and a long term business plan calls for a winery to be built within the next 3 to 5 years.
“We own a small piece of property (30 acres) north of Carneros,” finalized John Anthony Truchard. “And, depending on our continuing growth and profitability, we intend to go ahead and built a winery on the site. We will wait and see just where things are at and then make the decision.” Wife Michele is mother to the couple’s two children and is also the face of the winery to all visitors. Her 10-year experience as events coordinator for Rutherford Hill Winery makes her duties that much easier.
John Anthony Vineyards is an excellent example of a well thought out, highest quality producing winery that will continue to impress for a number of years