Celebrates 40 Distinguished Years
Written BY CHARLENE PETERS | PHOTO BY CHRISTINE GEORGE
On more than one occasion, Todd Anderson, owner/grower/winemaker at Anderson’s Conn Valley, has heard from customers, ‘This was amazing… and the best experience we’ve ever had wine tasting!’
The cave experience where Todd makes an appearance at nearly all tastings, if not as host on this 40-acre vineyard estate nestled at the base of Howell Mountain in Conn Valley, leaves quite a favorable impression— and raises the bar for the hundreds of other tasting experiences in Napa Valley. “It’s an honor for us to hear that people notice and care that much,” said Todd, who prides himself on creating intimate, luxurious tasting experiences in the cave, overlooking his vineyard and winery, or on the deck behind the house he and his father built. Guests enjoy the authenticity of this special place tucked away three miles east of downtown St. Helena. Its stunning ambiance is where the whole family can enjoy the Bocce Ball court, and it’s where children plead for Todd to give them a tractor ride.
Anderson’s Conn Valley began in 1983 when Todd, a geologist, purchased the property with his parents. Since their first vintage release in 1991, the team has remained small but mighty, with winery operations led by his wife, Sarah. Another key player is her father, George Lucas, who acts as their Vineyard Consultant and grill master during winery events. Said Sarah, “Dad does the barbequing, Todd handles the wine, and I make the food, desserts, and flower arrangements. It’s hands-on for all of us— and especially personal.”
This year marks the winery’s 40th groundbreaking anniversary, so there will likely be more special events than usual, including cave experiences on-site, intimate member gatherings, and bringing the party to club members. These Club-Only Pop-up Parties will be held across the U.S., catering to Anderson’s Conn Valley’s 950 and growing wine club members.
For a small winery, Todd’s work ethic is the key to its success and standing in the spotlight as one of the Best Hidden Gem Wineries in the Best of Napa Valley Readers’ Choice issue of Napa Valley Life Magazine. According to Sarah, her husband handles all the winemaking, farming, and “fixing.” The Anderson’s team of five offers an intimate atmosphere with no plans to increase the winery’s 5,000 case production sold almost entirely direct to consumers.
Looking back at the beginning of their first vintage, when he sold his grapes to other vintners, Todd recalls hanging out with the “old timers” who built Napa when less than 80 people made wine in the Valley. He learned what they were doing, and then he made a Cabernet Sauvignon listed in 1991 as one of the world’s top wines by Wine Spectator. Robert Parker learned about the vineyard and winery, making annual visits— something he didn’t typically practice; he referenced Todd as the Burgundy/Bordeaux producer of the New World.
Said Todd, “Parker said he tasted secondary and tertiary flavors in my wines that young wines in Napa didn’t have” at the time.
Interesting to note is Todd has no degree in viticulture or oenology. He’s never worked in a winery other than Anderson’s Conn Valley, which he and his father grew from a plot of land that was only a hayfield.
“Bigger isn’t always better,” said Todd, who tastes through each barrel every month. “This can be the difference between a good and a great wine.”