Paradise Found Atop Mount Veeder
When Rob Jennings first visited the site that would become his Paratus Vineyards, he knew it was special. “It was 1999 when I first climbed through redwood forests to the steep, east-facing slope of Mount Veeder to take a peek at this property,” said Jennings. “The minute I saw it, I knew that this vine- yard would produce extraordinary wines.”
And he was correct. His Paratus Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnay are coveted by those ‘in the know.’ At an annual production of just 500 cases, Jennings’ wines are ‘word of mouth’ Napa Valley gems, enjoyed primarily by Paratus Wine Club members and those lucky to find a bottle in distribution areas such as Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Jennings’ home state of Wisconsin. A handful of high-end Napa restaurants (Meadowood, Farmstead, and Press) also carry limited quantities, as does Oxbow Public Market’s Cheese and Wine Merchant, which offers Coravin pours, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, and Mission Bay Wine and Cheese in San Francisco’s Chase Center.
“We made a decision early on to stay small,” said Jennings, who traded a career in television and film for the vintner life. He and his wife Christina (who handles all design and visuals for Paratus) decided to focus on the incredible terroir of their property. “Our philosophy has always been to make wines that truly express the vine- yards carved into this mountainside.”
“Our philosophy has always been to make wines that truly express the vineyards carved into this mountainside.”
Paratus’ two Cabernets – a Mount Veeder estate wine and a small lot, vineyard row select Reserve – are aged two years in new French oak, and another two years in bottle before market, meaning that even first offer wines are already aged and ready for consumption. Both are 100% Cabernet, single-vineyard wines.
Jennings credits his winemaker Massimo Monticelli and vineyard manager Mark Obershulte with a great deal of his wines’ success, and he acknowledges the crucial role played by the Mount Veeder terroir. “The vineyard is truly what makes our wine exceptional,” said Jennings. “Everything is done by hand. These vines own the terroir.”
“The Paratus vineyard is a special site indeed,” said Obershulte, who has farmed both sides of the Mayacamas range from Calistoga to Mount Veeder. “It is situated on one of the steepest slopes I’ve worked. The soil is deep and well-drained. The vines are old, dry-farmed, and we keep crop levels down, so Massimo gets beautifully ripe fruit. And he knows when to pick ‘em!”
“It’s all about the grapes,” agrees Monticelli. “This soil and our dry farming produce a minerality in the wine that makes it so special. The credit for this great wine goes to the vineyard and the farming to produce a full, unique, rich, and complete wine.”
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Article By: Fran Miller