Finds A Second Home In Carneros
Frank Family Vineyards, known for their distinguished offerings of Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignons, also crafts notable single-vineyard Chardonnays sourced from their estate vineyard and a handful of their closest neighbors in Carneros. The cool-climate Carneros region, where Napa and Sonoma meet, has been Frank Family’s second home since acquiring their 67-acre Lewis Vineyard in 2000. “It’s been exciting to see our Chardonnay program grow and evolve over the years, especially since investing in our prime vineyard site to ensure continued access to high-quality fruit,” said Owner and Founder Rich Frank.
Named after Rich and his wife, Leslie’s eldest grandson, Lewis Vineyard consistently produces Frank Family’s best fruit year after year. The vineyard’s strategic location is key to producing the quality fruit that makes it into each bottle of Frank Family Chardonnay. Almost at sea level and directly facing the San Pablo Bay, Lewis Vineyard receives the constant caress of cool ocean air and fog that tumble over its rolling hills. The effect on its Chardonnay grapes, as well as their respectable 10-acre lot of Pinot Noir, is profound. While receiving plenty of sunshine, the grapes rarely overbake, creating perfect conditions to ripen each berry while retaining its natural acidity. “Chardonnay from our Lewis Vineyard displays pronounced aromatics and unmatched freshness, as well as remarkable varietal character and harmony,” said Winemaker Todd Graff, who was recently named “Napa Winemaker of the Year” by the North Bay Business Journal.
The winery’s family-owned Lewis Vineyard is just one steady source Frank Family taps into to produce their lauded Chardonnay labels. The Franks have developed decades-long relationships with several grower partners, giving their winemaking team exceptional quality and unparalleled depth when crafting their wines. Grapes are grown precisely to their standards thanks to their strong relation- ships with an extended family of growers, most notably Beckstoffer Vineyards and Sangiacomo Vineyards. “Family wineries are becoming more and more rare in the wine industry, and we’re grateful to be among the established few and to have the opportunity to work with fellow fam- ily-owned businesses who share the same values as us,” said Rich Frank.
For the past 50 years, both the Beckstoffer and Sangiacomo Families have grown some of California’s most renowned Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Wanting to preserve these master grapegrower’s sites’ integrity, Frank Family keeps small lots of their fruit separate from vine to bottle, resulting in their limited production Sangiacomo Chardonnay and Beckstoffer Chardonnay, which recently earned 95+ points from the Wine Advocate.
Frank Family’s dedicated approach to quality certainly starts in the vineyard, but it’s Graff’s winemaking ingenuity that creates a portfolio of wines that consistently receives praise from top critics. “I believe the most important thing we do is the gentle pressing of our grapes,” said Graff. “I have a lot of experience with making méthode champenoise sparkling wine, and I’m a fan of that pressing philosophy, so I use that time-honored method to extract as much flavor from the fruit as possible.” In essence, it’s the perfect combination of superior grapes and Frank Family’s masterful winemaking that allows the natural flavors from their Carneros land to show through in each sip.
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Article By: Marisa McCann // Photos Courtesy of Frank Family Vineyards