Napa Valley AVA
92 Points - Wine Spectator magazine
The story behind Napa Valley’s Showket Vineyards is not entirely singular, but actually relates to a number of wineries and their owners. Kal (Kalvin) and Dorothy Showket‘s specific involvement in the winery business began when the couple attempted to set up their retirement.
“We were both just plain old wine lovers,” explained Kal Showket. “We wanted to retire and began looking at properties around Napa Valley in the late 1980’s. We finally settled on a 42 acre parcel that we thought had the best view in all of Napa, in fact, we bought it first for its beautiful view. The property was on a hillside and afforded a seldom found western exposure. We bought it with the idea of becoming farmers and selling our grapes to our neighboring wineries. This was before hillside vineyards became the vineyard buzz words for much of Napa Valley and the surrounding areas.”
These neighbors included the likes of Caymus Vineyards, Dalle Valle Vineyards and Shafer Vineyards, all iconic wineries with great reputations for magnificent wines. For the next ten years, the Showkets replaced a number of existing vineyards on their land and supplied their neighbors with what became known as truly superb fruit.
“We started getting reports from just about everyone that our fruit was among the finest in the entire valley, and finally we decided to produce some estate wines for ourselves,” Kal Showket added. “The timing was about right and the wines were well received and highly scored by the industry periodicals and the top wine competitions.” The first release of about 700 cases came in 1999 and was quickly absorbed by the wine trade. Gradual growth occurred over the next decade until the present annual level of around 3,000 cases was reached.
The Showkets son, Zip (an industrial designer from San Jose State) even designed the striking label that was put up on the winery’s website for everyone to choose.
For the next decade, sales and accolades continued to accumulate for the smallish Showket Vineyards entity. With an expert team of winemakers producing award-winning wines, the future was bright for the family oriented business. “Both Thomas Brocker and Russell Bevan brought individual skills to our wines. Thomas loved being in the cellar and performing the winemaking functions and Russell shared an equal passion for the theoretical part of the process. He was responsible for the subtle nuances our wines always contained. It was a remarkable collaboration in that both men were considered as winemakers. Our winery’s amazing results in competitions speak for themselves.”
When the national recession caused a large number of California wineries to tighten their belts several years ago, Showket Vineyards quickly fell under its cold claws.
“We were a completely hands-on operation,” explained Showket. “Dorothy and I did practically everything around the place ourselves. We were both starting to get a bit older, and the national downturn made our jobs even harder. Selling our wines became a chore rather than an exciting experience.” The Showkets stated asking around and, within a short time, found a buyer for their prized property. The couple sold the vineyards in late 2009 to dynamic winery and vineyard owner Peter Michael who assured the couple that their vineyards would remain producing at the highest levels.
But, that’s not really the end of the Showket Vineyards story. It could easily be called its new beginning. At present, Kal and Dorothy Showket are living in Portland, Oregon and actively looking at vineyard properties in the Willamette Valley, around the towns of Dundee and Wilsonville. Kal Showket explained his recent efforts thusly: “We hated leaving Napa Valley, because it had been so good to us. Our place had become a literal jewel in Napa Valley’s tiara and the lifestyle there was second to none. Over time, I had become interested in the mysterious Pinot Noir grape and had seen some remarkable things done with the grape up in the Willamette Valley. Not too long ago, we decided to investigate the area for ourselves.
There is some outstanding property available up here and I can see us back in the business in no time at all.” To be sure, Showket Vineyards will be an outstanding addition to Oregon’s growing winery population.
For a man who professes to “not know a great deal about winemaking,” Kal Showket possesses a rare ability to get the very best out of what he grows and this is reflected in the marvelous wines of Showket Vineyards. We are sure Gold Medal Wine Club members will be pleased with this sultry selection.