Unapologetically Small – Poggi Wines
When you meet Tom and Laurie Poggi, they sparkle with excitement when they talk about their unexpected foray into the world of winemaking and the inaugural release of their label, Poggi Wines. Both originally from the Mid-West, Tom & Laurie ended up in the Bay Area working successful careers in Commercial Real Estate and Finance industries. It was Tom who introduced Laurie to Wine Country, an area he fell in love with visiting friends on weekends. Tom and Laurie first started exploring acquiring a second home as a reason to “get out of the office” to relax and decompress on weekends. In 2004 they discovered a quaint parcel in Calistoga with a small house and a quarter-acre vineyard with 427 vines planted to Syrah. They fell in love with the location and made an offer to purchase the property, and soon they were commuting to Napa every weekend, immersing themselves in the local community and tasting some of the area’s most exquisite wines.
Surprising the vineyard, while intriguing was not the reason for the purchase, but it was in good company, located a stone’s throw away from some of Napa Valley’s most iconic vineyards and wineries, such as Eisele, Kenefick Ranch, Frediani Vineyards and Kelly Fleming Wines. The prior home- owner harvested the small vineyard and produced home wines, and after the Poggis took ownership, Placido Garcia (45 year veteran of Chateau Montelena) agreed to stay on to help them manage the vineyard. The vineyard is flanked by two symmetrically planted Palm trees at the entrance, so they decided to name it “Twin Palms.” Coincidentally the name also tied into the fact Laurie is an identical twin. Working with Placido, they harvested the grapes and “gave them” to a local winemaker in exchange for half the wine production. After two years, Tom’s motivations and Laurie’s curiosity led Tom to team up with a local neighbor to try his hand at making wine in his garage. Placido suggested the Poggis consider hiring a consulting winemaker and introduced them to Ignacio Blancas (longtime winemaker at Summers).
Soon after, they grafted the 427 Syrah vines with Cabernet Sauvignon and a few rows of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot and in 2011 they produced their first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Their efforts gained notoriety several years running by winning best in class awards in home winemaking competitions. After realizing the quality of the wines created from this terroir, and encouragement from Ignacio, they set about to make their wines commercially. The Poggi’s released their first commercial vintage, a Cabernet Sauvignon blend, from Twin Palms vineyard in 2014. Unfortunately, based on their small size, they experienced challenges finding a crush partner, so they decided to expand their label to include a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from a prestigious vineyard on Diamond Mountain. Between the two vineyards, they currently produce approximately 75 -100 cases of each wine.
While the heritage of the fruit carries formidable lineage, Laurie and Tom’s intentions as wine producers are built around pride over profit. Tom says “If you enjoy something, you want to tell everyone about it and share it. It’s not about the money. It’s about the fact we work hard, and we are fortunate to have this opportunity.” What’s important to them is being able to drink great wine with good friends as often as possible. They want to create high-quality, high-value Napa Valley Cabernet that doesn’t need to be stashed away for a special occasion. In a market rife with luxury labels that for many are way out of reach, their price point at $75 SRP appeals to wine lovers who want to drink a gorgeous, well rounded Napa Valley Cabernet any day of the week.
Tom and Laurie’s unassuming and convivial approach to the business is based on their commitment to remain small. They are “unapologetically small,” and they intend to stay that way. Keeping production at a manageable level distinguishes them in an expanding field of winery mergers and large corporate acquisitions where ownership can seem anonymous. For the Poggi’s it’s all about meeting and getting to know their customers on a more personal level and sharing their wines with “friends they haven’t met yet.” They believe real- life attachments are the most rewarding connections and a true connection in the world of Napa Valley wine is something worth pursuing.
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Article By: Laura Larson