Stags Leap District AVA
Odette Estate raises the bar every year with luxury Cabernets
What would you do in 2012 if you owned a pair of highly successful Napa Valley wineries and suddenly another magnificent winery property suddenly came on the market?
Why, you would probably rush to see if you could purchase the property the following day if your names were Gavin Newsom, Gordon Getty and John Conover.
For the record, Newsom is a former mayor of San Francisco as well as former Lt. Governor of California. Getty is a philanthropist and entrepreneur and John Conover is a very savvy wine industry veteran that has made the trio’s investments work so far. The three co-own PlumpJack Winery on Napa’s Oakville Cross and the prestigious Cade Estate Winery on esteemed Howell Mountain.
The new property, a 45-acre estate, was located in the equally esteemed Stags Leap District off the Silverado Trail and was formerly owned by the Steltzner Family since 1964. In addition to producing some of Napa Valley’s finest fruit, in 1980 Steltzner Vineyards began producing their own wines to instant acclaim. Through the years, Richard and Christine Steltzner improved the property to include underground tunnels and caves (among the first such caves dug in Napa Valley) as well as a premier tasting facility.
“The place was certainly one of a kind,” remarked John Conover. “We knew right off that it would become an important part of our existing wine family.”
Interestingly, the company decided to change the image of the newly acquired winery to fit into their existing wineries. PlumpJack was a Shakespearean character and Cade was the Bard’s term for wine casks of that era. After some bantering, the name Odette was chosen as the new signature that would be henceforth known as Odette Estate Winery.
“Odette is a fabled princess...a mistress...a judge...a heroine,” continued Conover. “We all agreed that she was both antiquity and modernity. You will find her in works of fiction and tales from history. Odette encapsulates our inspiration for this property - femininity, strength, and power,” he explained further.
Odette Estate has a new hospitality center and the caves have been updated and retrofitted. The vineyards have been replanted and converted to 100% organic farming, a major objective for what has become the PlumpJack Group.
Well-known architect Juan Carlos Fernandez was hired to design a new winery that has also been completed. The aim was to achieve LEED Gold Certification, a feat that was accomplished earlier this year. Odette Estate Vineyards has also gained certification from the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) for its efforts.
A living green roof highlights the smalls state-of-the-art winery and is planted to grasses and plants. Some 2,500 square feet of solar panels are also included on the roof while the winemaking laboratory is constructed from recycled shipping containers from China, the only such lab in the Napa Valley.
Despite the unique nature and design of Odette Estate Vineyards, the main source of accomplishment is the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines that are under the control of winemaker Jeff Owens and his staff. Owens is a long-term employee of the PlumpJack Group and achieved a historical mark with the release of his first vintage. The 2012 Odette Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon received a perfect score of 100 from none other than wine guru Robert Parker, the only such award garnered by a first time release by any winery.
Owens is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (whose viticulture graduates have been raising eyebrows all around California) and considers Odette Estate his third child. Owens was mentored by winemaker Tony Biagi at PlumpJack and credits Biagi for giving him the chance to succeed at Odette Estate. He is practical about the high scores and sets even higher expectations for the future.
“I’m just trying to make wines that represent the terroir here and wines that I believe in,” he offered. “And I believe the 13’s will be great follow ups to the 12’s.”
Such confidence and benign intent are the hallmarks for this already proud Stags Leap District winery. The great ownership and winemaking teams seem to assure many more achievements in both the near and distant future. Projects such as Odette Estate Vineyards provide new vitality and exposure for Napa Valley’s heralded wine colony. It is our pleasure to introduce this incredible Diamond Wine Club selection to our knowledgeable members.
Map of the area
Jeff Owens - Winemaker
The Odette wines are made by a longtime member of the PlumpJack family, Jeff Owens. A 2005 graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Jeff began as a cellar worker for PlumpJack in 2006 and quickly rose through the ranks as enologist and assistant winemaker.
In 2010, he became the assistant winemaker for Cade Estate, and in 2012, he was named head winemaker for Odette Estate. Despite the learning curve set by the new property, the 2012 vintage turned out to be a blockbuster debut for Jeff and the Odette team, earning a perfect 100 Points from Robert Parker.