Rocca Family Vineyards
Napa Valley AVA
Continuing to produce world-class wines
Mary Rocca and Eric Grigsby had more in common than the fact they were both biology majors as undergraduates. When the two met in graduate school at Boston University, both were pursuing careers as doctors. Mary became a dentist and Eric an M.D., with a specialty in anesthesiology.
Eric was a native of Knoxville, Tennessee and Mary’s family were residents of northern California, mostly around Santa Rosa. When the pair married in 1985 and decided to set up their respective practices, the choice of San Francisco as a venue wasn’t all that difficult.
“We also realized that we both thoroughly enjoyed the wine country north of San Francisco,” Mary Rocca explained. “The enjoyment of wine was a fairly major thing we both had in common. In fact, there were stories in my family that my grandfather had once made wine in his basement when I was a child.”
The pair proceeded to establish their individual practices for the next fifteen years until the call of the grapes beckoned to the pair as the new millennium approached its launch. As was the case in a number of successful wineries, the owners of Rocca Family Vineyards weren’t intent on first becoming a winery. “We were like a number of others who ventured into the wine business,” Mary Rocca continued. “We were attracted to the idea of actually doing something with the land. Agriculture was big with both Eric and me, and with grape prices soaring, we intended to be growers and not vintners. It was only in the very back of our minds that we might someday become winemakers.”
“A wonderful piece of property (approximately 21 acres) came up for sale in 1999 that was located at the junction of the Yountville crossroad and Silverado Trail and we jumped at the chance. The plot was already planted in grapes and was under a long-term contract to Stags’ Leap Winery. We were able to make a deal with Stags’ Leap that allowed us to keep a small amount of the grapes for our own use. We named the vineyard ‘Grigsby’ after my husband’s family name.” The prospect of having the availability of top-flight grapes made the idea of a winery incredibly appealing to Eric and Mary. Since her surname was Italian and sounded more like a winery, Rocca Family Vineyards soon became a reality.
The grapes that Mary Rocca chose for her own use were the venerable Rhône varietal Syrah and the definitive Napa Valley varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. Rocca and her husband believed in the future of these grapes and began the process that would lead to the making of their own wines. They searched around for a talented up-and-coming winemaker to produce the label’s first vintages and settled on Cecilia Welch Masyczek, a rising star in local winemaking circles. In 2008, Cecilia passed the winemaking baton to Paul Colantuoni, who has continued to produce world-class wines under the Rocca label.
The company’s first release of 700 cases in 2002 met with unexpected wild success and the ride was on. Rocca Family Vineyards quickly became one of the top Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon producers in Napa Valley. Rocca added another remarkable 12 acre vineyard on a knoll in the Coombsville growing area (just outside the Napa City limits) that affords a unique 360-degree sun advantage to its vines.The additional vineyard assures Rocca continued grape supply and future growth.
The production at Rocca has leveled out at around 2,000 cases each year.“We are of a mind to run the winery and not let the winery run us,” Mary Rocca added. “So far, we have been able to insure that our wines are only carried in the finest stores and restaurants.”
Mary Rocca is proudest of the fact that her wine has won three blind tasting competitions, two held in San Francisco and the other in Bordeaux. The wines involved were very expensive, much more so than the Rocca Family Vineyards’ entries. “To have reached that level this early is something special,” Rocca finalized. “It is a great tribute to our grapes and our hard working staff.”
Eric Grigsby still practices and teaches as a medical doctor in Napa Valley, but Mary Rocca credits him with much of the inspiration for the winery’s early success. He continues to serve as the president of a clinical research and education facility while Mary runs the winery and directs Rocca Family Vineyards’ sales and marketing.
A Personal Note from Mary Rocca
Dear Platinum Series Members,
I’m excited that you will soon be enjoying our 2012 Rocca Family Grigsby Vineyard Merlot. While we are primarily a Cabernet Sauvignon house, our Merlot holds a special place in our hearts. For those who have always loved the subtle, refined beauty of great Merlot, the 2012 Grigsby Vineyard Merlot is perfect evidence to support the case. There is gorgeous weight and presence here, and the structure is classic Rocca Merlot, what I call “Cab lover’s Merlot.”
At Rocca Family Vineyards, we believe deeply that all great wines are made in the vineyard. Our winemaker, Paul Colantouni, and vineyard manager Sergio Melgoza work very closely together, taking tremendous care to ensure that our vineyards (certified organic) produce grapes of the highest possible quality.
Excellence is the focal point of everything we do. If my name is associated with something, I want it to be the best it can be. I hope you enjoy drinking my wine as much as we enjoy making it for you! Please do call and come see us when you are planning a visit to the Napa Valley.