Napa Valley AVA
Guided by respect for the land and the people that work it, David and Betsy have built an incredible legacy
Founded by Alaskan couple, Betsy and David Lawer, Lawer Estates produces one-of-a-kind, limited-production wines from Napa and Sonoma counties. Now celebrating their twentieth year in the industry, the Lawer family has much to be proud of with their award-winning wines and incredible business success. It is a legacy that is built to continue for generations to come.
Starting at the beginning, Betsy is a third generation Alaskan banker (born in Anchorage) who grew up with many of the state’s business and community leaders. Learning the banking business first hand from her father, Betsy has held a long and distinguished career in the field and has been noted for several achievements and leadership qualities over the years. A former board director and member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Betsy has also served on the board of the 12th District Federal Reserve. She is currently the Chair and President of the First National Bank of Alaska (which her grandfather started). She also serves on the National Board of the world-famous Smithsonian Institute - a position she has held since 2008.
Betsy’s husband, David Lawer, who sadly passed away in 2021, was an attorney and also worked for First National Bank as their Senior Vice President and General Counsel. He was always a fervent supporter of the Alaska community and served as President of both the American Lung Association of Alaska and the Alaska Bankers Association. In 2020, David was the recipient of the Alaska Business Hall of Fame award.
It’s true, the Lawers’ love of banking and business can’t be denied, but as the couple built their individual careers, they stumbled upon a second passion that would lead them into another industry entirely.
During Alaska’s cold winter periods, the couple found themselves visiting Napa and Sonoma Valleys for family getaways and wine tasting excursions. It actually became their tradition over Thanksgiving for the entire Lawer family to gather in different locations around wine country, allowing the Lawers to traverse a good deal of Northern California’s famed wine regions.
In 1995, David and Betsy had their first introduction to California’s wine business when they became involved (along with a number of other investors) with the sale of the then defunct Folie a Deux Winery. This experience proved rewarding, and the Lawers decided to locate some acreage that they could purchase on their own.
In 2002, a remarkable property that totaled nearly 106 acres became available just outside Calistoga, in the eastern reaches of Sonoma County. It contained a neglected vineyard that the Lawers were told could easily be worked into production. The deal was completed and David and Betsy began the process of becoming growers in the Knights Valley of Sonoma County.
“All we intended to do was grow top notch fruit to sell to some of the local wineries,” confessed Betsy Lawer. “Well, once we got started, everything began to fall into place. The fruit we were producing turned out to be premium quality and we decided to take everything to the next step.”
The couple began by producing a series of wines, each expected to fulfill a particular niche. Their labels include Three Coins, Hooker, Duck Shack, Iron Lion, and Lawer Estates and each has a unique story to tell. Hooker, for instance, is an ode to Betsy’s father and husband who were both hookers for their college rugby teams, and Lawer Estates is their premium brand, showing the best that their estate vineyards have to offer.
As a tribute to their love of business, whether it’s banking or winemaking, the Lawers designed their Lawer Estates label to hearken back to the era of fine, inscribed bonds or stock certificates - artfully merging their banking and winemaking worlds. The landscape etching on the front label is on of their favorite vineyard views.
The first Lawer Estates wines were made in 2003, and the family hasn’t looked back since. Guided by respect for the land and the people that work it, from ground to glass, David and Betsy have built an incredible legacy and a beautiful, ever-expanding portfolio of wines that showcases the unique terroir of their Knights Valley and Calistoga Vineyards. Winemaking is overseen by Cary Gott and Kelly Delanni, whose passion and drive for excellence can be seen in each and every bottle produced.
Over the years, David and Betsy Lawer have proven that helping people succeed in the community is not only the right thing to do, but is the right approach to business. They have applied those core values to their Lawer Estates winery and hope to continue their traditions for generations to come. It is a pleasure to introduce Lawer Estates to our Platinum Wine Club and Diamond Wine Club members. Please enjoy.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
“This wine will only get better with time” -Tasting Notes
For you, the Gold Medal Wine Club’s Platinum Members, that time is now.
This wine was aged for 20 months in French Oak barrels before bottling. Since then, it has been quietly aging further in the bottle, softening the tannins and acid, smoothing the texture and revealing more complex aromas and flavors.
The longer our Cabernet ages, the smoother the tannins become and the more Earth notes evolve.
I like softer tannins in my wine, with a great fruit flavor, and less of the dried fruit, tobacco and leather tones that come with longer aging. So, for me, this aging is perfect. If you prefer more dried fruit, tobacco and leather tones, put this wine on the shelf and age it a bit longer - it has the structure to hold up. This wine has earned 96 Points, and its share of Double Gold and Gold Medals. But, ratings aren’t what drive us at Lawer Estates. They are simply a quality control measure, one that is used as a yardstick to measure the potential for your experience with our wines.
At Lawer Estates, a great customer experience is our mission. A great experience, whether you pour our wine with family, or with friends who have become like family, or experience our wines at the tasting room, vineyard or new urban winery soon to open in Calistoga.
Cheers, and enjoy the experience!
About the Vineyard
Lawer Estates owns a large 106-acre estate that is located above the upper Napa Valley City of Calistoga in Sonoma County. The property has 20 acres under vine (Betsy’s Vineyard) and is actually located in the Franz Valley area, a part of the Knight’s Valley Appellation. Knight’s Valley is highly attractive to many nearby Napa and Sonoma wineries for its tremendous fruit quality and versatility.
One of Sonoma County’s original five American Viticulture Areas (AVA’s), Knight's Valley includes approximately 37,000 acres (2,000 acres under vine) and was officially designated in 1983. Nestled between the Alexander Valley and Chalk Hill AVA, it is the easternmost designated Sonoma County wine region with the warmest climate in the immediate area. Geographically, Knight's Valley separates the rest of Sonoma County from the Napa Valley AVA.
The wines for Lawer Estates are produced from grapes either grown on the estate Betsy’s Vineyard in Knight's Valley (known for its exceptional terroir and unique climate), or from grapes purchased from different sections of Napa Valley.
The Lawers are deeply committed to sustainable farming and excellence in their grape growing, thus the Lawer Estate vineyard is sustainably farmed, thoughtfully managed, meticulously maintained, and hand harvested. Betsy and David Lawer hope to continue these traditions for many years to come.
The Art of Fine Wine
Painted by Bruno Segatta, a native of Italy who has practiced the study and mastery of art since earning his degree from Northridge University. He is inspired by his surroundings and specializes in landscapes portrayed in an abstract style.
Cary Gott & Kelly DeIanni - Winemakers
The Lawer winemaking team consists of Cary Gott and Kelly DeIanni who posses a rare blend of winemaking passion, bold creativity and exacting standards of excellence. Since 2013, they have shared Lawer’s winemaking responsibilities with the goal of producing distinctive, finely balanced, terroir-driven wines.
Cary Gott serves as the lead winemaker for Lawer Family Winery. The fourth generation of his family to join the wine business, Cary has a lifetime of experience making ultra premium wines and creating successful brands for over forty years. He is also the founding principal of Vineyard & Winery Estates, where he assists wine brands in establishing operations and developing wineries. He has worked with such prominent estates as Round Pond, Ram’s Gate, Sterling Vineyards, and Mumm Napa Valley.
Kelly DeIanni brings over two decades of vineyard and winemaking experience to Lawer Family Winery, and has made wine for more than a dozen leading wine brands (including Gloria Ferrer, Australia’s Pierro Winery, St. Supéry, Metaphora, Carrefour, and Revenant). She is passionate about making balanced, palate-pleasing wines for everyone to enjoy and collect.
More about Betsy Lawer
Betsy Lawer generates a great deal of personality and energy when she speaks. It is quickly apparent that she is the driving and motivating force behind Lawer Estates. She met her husband David while they were students at Duke University in her youth and has shared a mutual love affair with him and the wine industry for a number of years.
“I tend to make most of the decisions about the winery,” she injected playfully, “and David does what he loves most – plays golf.”
Betsy Lawer has injected a good deal of her definitive personality and family history into the winery’s three brands. The Three Coins brand symbolizes the hard work, attention to detail, and dedication it takes to do any job right. It is named for her father’s practice of tossing three coins down a hill in Alaska that she and her sisters planned to mine. This test was her father’s quality control check to ensure the very best results - if those three coins weren’t at the bottom of the sluice box at clean up, that meant the water pressure had been too high and the coins had been washed into the tailing pile...along with some gold.
The Hooker brand is dedicated to her husband, David, now an excellent golfer, but formerly a standout hooker on the Duke Rugby team during his college days. Her father was also a former hooker on the Stanford rugby team. In his eyes, that simple fact made David a suitable husband for Betsy.
The Lawer Estates brand is a tribute to their love of business - whether its banking or winemaking. The Lawers designed this label to harken back to the era of fine, inscribed bonds or stock certificates, artfully merging their banking and winemaking worlds. The landscape etching on the Lawer Estates label is one of their favorite vineyard views. This brand also celebrates their commitment to sustainable farming and excellence in their grape growing and winemaking. The Lawers hope to continue these traditions for generations to come.
The three preceding paragraphs present a keen insight into what makes Betsy Lawer a special woman. Not only is she on the board of the world famous Smithsonian, but she also served on the board of the 12th District Federal Reserve Bank.
“I tend to be quite proactive,” she offered. “I also like to see just where my adventures take me and that’s the real fun of it all. If something makes sense to me, I like to follow it through to its conclusion.”
She has also put together a fabulous management team, from well-respected John Piña (vineyard management) to the passionate winemaking team of Cary Gott and Kelly DeIanni to insure the future quality of Lawer Estates wines. Betsy is also looking around for a tasting facility to be located in or around Calistoga.
“Calistoga is one of the really fun places in Napa Valley, but not everyone comes all the way up the valley to see for themselves. We were going to build something on our property, but we decided to respect the traditional values of all our neighbors and place it in or around Calistoga. That’s my next project.”
The new tasting facility will certainly not be Betsy Lawer’s last project. People with her keen sense of business and extreme joy of life are hard to find and even harder to control. Betsy Lawer is good for the California wine industry and good for wine itself.
With her winery project now in its thirteenth year, Betsy hopes that future business upturns will lead to extensive expansion. She would like to be a 10,000 case winery in the not too distant future, but is careful in planning any future expansion.
Lawer has also repeatedly stated that such growth will never occur at the expense of quality, a consideration that she has insisted on since entering the wine business.
Would that more vintners share her enthusiasm and genuine respect for the wine industry. It would make the entire wine experience all that much more fun for everyone involved.