Napa Valley AVA
Exceptional, 91 Points - Beverage Testing Institute
To say that Dan Lynch has been successful in his diverse business endeavors is most prabably an understatement, and is undoubtedly worthy of an explanation. Lynch, now 63, is a native of Hollywood (a rarity to be sure) that graduated in the mid-1960’s from Los Angeles’ Loyola Marymount University with a degree in mathematics. He first tasted wine during his college days because in his own words, “it tasted good.”
Dan’s career brought him to the city of Cupertino in Northern California where he joined Lockheed in its aerospace program. Cupertino was located on the fringe of now famous Silicon Valley, and by 1972, Lynch’s math background had attracted him to a new form of activity, the emerging and intriguing endeavor known as the Internet. About this time, Lynch’s next-door neighbor provided him with a startling discovery.
“My friend and neighbor happened to work as a maitre d’ at a prestigious French restaurant in Palo Alto,” Lynch recently recalled. “One day I brought him a glass of Lancer’s Rose that I was drinking. He took one look and went back to his house and returned with a glass of red wine. I took one sip and all I could say was ‘Wow”! The wine turned out to be Lafite Rothschild and I have never been the same since. The day was truly a defining moment in my wine career.”
Dan Lynch established a number of specific internet-friendly companies including a venture in the mid 1980’s known as Interop that allowed conference and trade shows to interact within the Internet. He also became involved with Stanford’s Research Institute and friendly with the founders of wine icon Ridge Vineyards who also worked for SRI. Lynch recalled that the house wines for many SRI work parties at the time were Ridge zinfandels and cabernets. In 1983, he moved into a new house and a nearby neighbor who was also a home winemaker. The friend would visit Napa and Sonoma and buy small lots of grapes that he would then turn into wines. Lynch paid close attention and found out that he too was capable of making some really tasty wines.
When he sold his interest in Interop, Lynch turned his interest to his true passion, the emerging boutique wine industry. He founded Lynch Vineyards in the early 1990’s and moved to the Napa Valley where he succeeded in purchasing a small plot of hillside land in mid-valley. The land was adjacent to Stony Hill Vineyards and Lynch soon discovered why the area got its name.
“The place was so stony that we were only able to convert five acres to vine,” he explained. I planted four varietals and asked some of my neighbors for help. Those neighbors included John Schafer of Schafer Vineyards, Warren Winiarski of Stags Leap Wine Cellars and John Livingston of Livingston Vineyards, all primary notables in their own right. John Livingston’s geology background was a major help in determining Lynch Vineyards’ initial planting.
The first release of about 100 cases came in 1998, and Dan Lynch gave most of the bottles away to friends and neighbors.
Lynch Vineyards’ rocky terrain provides small yields of only 1 to 1 ½ tons per acre. The resulting fruit, however, is incredibly rich and intense. Lynch Vineyards’ estate production has not risen appreciably and next year will reach slightly over 500 cases. Dan Lynch also produces an additional label called Napa Dan with fruit he buys from other growers. This allows him potential future expansion but does not affect his highly acclaimed Lynch Vineyards wines.
Dan Lynch’s current winery operation is what he termed, “lean and clean.” He has slowly convinced his neighbor Peter McCrea (Stony Hill Vineyard) that they area is a purely red varietals growing environment and has witnessed the planting of mostly new red varietals next door.
“It’s hard to argue with success,” he recounted. “The ground sort of speaks for itself. The quality of grapes that come out of this soil makes one quite humble.”
That’s quite a statement from someone so friendly that he rides around with a NAPA DAN license plate on his auto.
Dan Lynch is incredibly pleased with his life and his place in Napa’s wine history.
We know you will also be pleased with this month’s Platinum Selection.