Napa Valley AVA
The Greek toast “Levendi” ascribes hard work and a good life - an appropriate name for this winery
It is not widely known that wine was an important aspect of Greek culture and life and was part of Greek commerce and worship from earliest times. That tradition is alive today in the form of Levendi Winery, owned mostly by the Gianulias Family of California.
In fact, co-owner David Gianulias, 44, is the tenth generation of his family in the wine business, a span of over several hundred years. As far back as 1926, David Gianulias’ grandfather produced wine that was mostly consumed by his family and friends. It wasn’t until David and his father Jim, now 75, along with family friend Todd Rustman, banded together to found Levendi Winery that the family entered the commercial wine business.
Located in Napa Valley, Levendi Winery first saw the light of day in 2001 when it produced its first 1,000 cases.
David Gianulias tells the rest of the story. “We were told we were foolish to produce so many cases the first time around. Then a forklift dropped some pallets and suddenly we had less than 900 cases to sell,” he smiled. “It wasn’t all that funny at the time, but it all worked out quite nicely.”
This year Levendi Winery will produce more than 2,000 cases, and has a lofty goal of 10,000 cases to be achieved in 3 to 5 years. The company owns more than 300 acres of prime Napa Valley acreage and has long term contracts with several top Napa growers.
The story of Levendi Winery’s initial success is a tale unto itself. The first restaurant approached by the company just happened to be Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant, Spago, located in Beverly Hills. Puck liked what he tasted and ordered the wine for all his restaurants. His high profile clientele agreed with the chef’s choice and the rest is history. Levendi Winery was off and flying and added numerous awards and accolades along the way.
For the record, levendi in Greek is part of a phrase yasou levendi, a toast that basically ascribes hard work and a good life. The Levendi Winery label is an elaborate sketch that depicts a young person in a vineyard or farm raising a glass to the sun, the most important element in the development of good vines and grapes. The coloring on the label reflects the varietal inside the bottle.
“It is our way of depicting our thanks to God in the form of the sun,” related David Gianulias. “It is part of our ancient Greek culture and has been around for centuries. One of my uncles suggested it and it seemed an incredibly appropriate name for the winery.”
The future looks remarkably bright for Levendi Winery and its splendid portfolio of wines. While still a family operation, the winery has already made inroads abroad with its wines. Naturally, Greece was the first country to accept Levendi Winery’s selections.
“Rather than attempt to sell our wines in the overcrowded European markets,” added David Gianulias, “we have decided to concentrate in another direction. Negotiations are underway for our wines in China and India and we expect to contact Korea, Taiwan and Australia in the not too distant future. It seems that there is still a good deal of room for California wines in those countries, and we let our quality speak for itself.”
In terms of quality, this smallish winery has come a long way in its relatively brief history. Its wines have consistently scored in the 90’s in top publications and competitions and it has developed a loyal following through its continuing efforts.
Another unique feature is the wine room at the popular Antonello Ristorante, located on the restaurant’s second floor in Orange County’s luxurious South Coast Village. All of Levendi Winery’s varietals are displayed in the room that is both temperature and humidity controlled. The room seats 14 and even contains private wine lockers. It is one of the few such rooms devoted exclusively to a winery in the entire country.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
The Gianulias Family has been making wine for many generations. We've owned vineyards in Napa Valley, California since the 1970's and harvested wine grapes in Greece on the family farm since he 1920's.
It is our passion and commitment to quality wine that has inspired Levendi. Our winemaker Alison Green Doran is a perfectionist and her attention to details is evident in our wines.
It's an honor to share our wines from my family's table to yours.
Alison Doran - Winemaker
The wines of Levendi Winery have consistently scored high marks thanks to the efforts of winemaker Alison Doran. A graduate of renowned UC Davis, Doran was a student of iconic winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff (Beaulieu Vineyards and others) and spent time in the historic Alsace Region of France.
Doran is a 30+ year veteran of the wine industry with a strong background in vineyard management. She has developed a style of her own – exceptional taste and a velvety feel on the palate; factors that have helped distinguish Levendi Winery’s wines from those of its competitors.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
The Gianulias Family is pleased to introduce the Levendi 2010 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon as part of your wine club selection. Levendi is a family owned, boutique winery located in Napa Valley, California. Our family has a strong Greek tradition of private winemaking dating back for centuries. Since 1926, we have propagated, refined, and developed handcrafted vintages to share with family and friends.
For more than 40 years, winemaker Alison Green Doran has been walking the vineyards that produce the finest grapes in the region. She keeps an eye on every aspect of vine growth – limiting their vigor so that they produce the most concentrated and intensely flavored grapes. Alison has honed her craft into a distinctive style all her own – harvesting at optimum ripeness, and making sure she gets the “pop and jump” out of every grape. The 2010 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon is from one of Alison’s favorite vineyards in Napa – Baker Vineyard located in Atlas Peak, high in Eastern Napa.
This wine exudes a beautiful combination of strength and elegance. The nose shows its mountain roots with blackberry, sage, and mocha. The palate is graceful with soft tannin, including notes of currant and blackberry jam. A touch of cedar and sandalwood continue through the palate, with a silky finish of maple spice. We often pair this wine with traditional Greek and American dishes, from braised lamb skewers to grilled New York steak.
The Greek toast “Levendi” acknowledges a hard day’s labor and achievement. It celebrates the fields, the rain and the sun that nurture our special grapes. Essentially, it’s a toast “to celebrate life” and it is the philosophy on which we craft our wine.