Napa Valley AVA
"A new wine that is both an invention and a discovery.”
It’s been aptly referred to as the United Nations of the Napa wine industry, and with certain good reason. Simply called Appellations, the winery takes a unique approach to presenting a product that in concept, is more than a single wine, and more than just a single entity. In a word, Appellations is nearly all encompassing.
Appellations began as a concept in 2002, when noted winemaker Steve Reynolds (Reynolds Family Winery) and several area friends/vintners came together with an idea that involved gathering grapes from all of the thirteen existing appellations within Napa Valley and then blending the grapes into a single wine - a wine that would represent the entire Valley.
“You can’t really taste the lines on a map,” said Steve Reynolds, looking back. “We figured, why not take the best parts of the Valley - wherever they may be - and see if the sum is even greater.”
The friends used their connections to wrangle fruit from every AVA - Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena...Spring, Diamond and Howell Mountain...all thirteen appellations. “It was actually amazing to see how the growers accepted the concept of Appellations,” remarked Kristi Seitz, one of the original partners. “Everyone we contacted wanted to be represented. Many said they couldn’t believe it had never been done before. It was quite exciting for everyone involved.”
The partners vinified each lot separately and when they put together the final blend, they called the wine Thirteen Appellations. “It had the structure you find in the hillsides and the acid balance you get from the cooler regions,” recalled Steve Reynolds. “It was rich on the palate but not at all jammy. We’d found the sweet spot.”
The first production was from the 2002 harvest, and a grand total of just about 100 cases were made. Needless to say, this first bottling was met with critical acclaim and was quickly sold out. “We limit ourselves to the one ton (per appellation) and then have the luxury of cherry picking. Some of the best wines in the world come from the same vineyards.”
Fast forward to 2004, and a fourteenth AVA was added (Oak Knoll) and the named changed to Fourteen Appellations. In 2006, a fifteenth arrived (Calistoga) and the name changed again; and finally in 2012, the named changed once again with the addition of Coombsville.
Along the way, the prestigious Appellations wines had created an unlikely following: collectors who regularly paid top dollar for the Valley’s best vineyard-designated wines, but who were savvy enough to understand the benefits of blending. One of those collectors, Mike Martin, decided this was a brand that deserved a bigger stage, so he acquired the winery from Steve Reynolds and his partners in 2014.
Formerly from McAllen, Texas in the state’s wondrous Rio Grande Valley, Mike Martin and his family still consider themselves farmers, but their penchant for making world-class wines have turned numerous heads among the Napa Valley wine industry. The Martins had always been passionate about wine and had made their Texas farmland into one of the state’s finest produce farms that covered more than seven thousand acres. “We knew we were good farmers, and we wanted to get into the winery business,” informed Taylor Martin, Mike Martin’s son and now the general manager of the Appellations brand. “The only question was where to locate our operation.”
After acquiring the Appellations series of wines, the Martins were searching for a Coombsville vineyard, and happened upon a special property on the eastern edge of the Vaca Mountains (specifically located within the Coombsville AVA). It was exactly what the Martins were looking for, and after some rehabilitating, it became the home for both Appellations and the family’s next winery project: Italics Winegrowers, a high-end, well respected winery in Napa Valley.
Today, the Appellations wines live within the Italics Winegrowers portfolio as an important expression of the Martin family’s mission: to highlight places that truly have something to say.
The Martins’ winery itself is truly something to behold. Included is a 16,000 square foot cave that holds the company’s barrel aging facility, as well as a tasting room that greets the growing number of devotees.
We are proud to feature the latest release from the distinguished Appellations series of wines to our Platinum Wine Club members. Cheers!
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
For a young winery, there’s a lot more to our story than what the eye can see in our little slice of Coombsville. We’re newcomers to Napa and Texan through and through, with a little bit of North Carolina sprinkled in for good measure. For four generations, we made a name for ourselves where it mattered; in the field. Before winegrowing, we made a name for ourselves farming the Ruby Red grapefruit and the 1015 onion in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Our family mantra was pretty simple; take care of business in the field, stay genuine, and treat your clients like family. My great grandfather said that if we did that, generally the rest takes care of itself, and it did. Winegrowing was always a dream, something we said that we’d love to do if we ever got the chance.
The Appellations by Sixteen Appellations series highlights all that the Napa Valley has to offer each year. A perfect marriage of small lots of fruit from each of the (now) Sixteen AVA’s, all blended in to one. In 2012, we were able to include Napa Valley’s newest AVA, Coombsville, and use some of our Estate fruit in the blend. This wine has almost a cult following because of its limited production and even more limited visibility. The Italics Appellations series has some good roots for sure, and my family has enjoyed getting to know each of the growers, the different soil compositions and microclimates that make this bottle what it is - diversely and incredibly Napa Valley in a Bottle. Now with a full-time home at Italics Winegrowers, we are thrilled to get this in your hands. Everyone loves a comeback and we have loved revamping this project.
Coombsville may be Napa’s newest AVA, but this slice of wine country has a long and curious history. For decades, the lack of water and unforgiving volcanic soils steered the community towards horse ranching instead of winegrowing. Our estate is situated on the northwest corner of the caldera that frames the appellation. With over 300 feet of elevation change, three distinct soil types, and a truly unique terroir, we knew immediately that this was the place. A microcosm of the AVA as a whole, the estate was a sleeping giant. 16,000 square feet of caves lay unfinished, wells were heavily stressed by drought, and a beautiful estate home with unlimited potential lay dormant and dilapidated. Where everyone else saw problems, we saw promise. This property had exactly what we needed, a world class vineyard. That spoke to us.
Managing Partner - Italics Winegrowers