by Laurie Jo Miller Farr | PHOTOS By SUZANNE BECKER BRONK
Sometimes, serendipity is the spark for the best things. And Scalon Cellars seems to have more than its fair share of good fortune. Even the name was born by chance, scrambling letters from the co-founders’ surnames.
That said, scoring a Double Gold for the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon in the 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is anything but chance. “We focus heavily on our farming techniques to make small lots of unique varietals,” said General Manager Tim Goodwin. “We are not trying to be the next big adventure, but we are making the investment to get it right. When you are small you must be sure to get it right. There’s no room for missteps. We are proud of who we are.”
In the beginning
How Scalon Cellars was founded is another good Napa story. As a young laborer, Jesus Espinoza planted grapes for years, rising to become vineyard manager at Caldwell Vineyard. He met Cruz Calderon during the construction of the wine cave there, and they forged a friendship that flourishes today. “Eventually, they asked John Caldwell to sell them one barrel. Well, one barrel turned into seven, and in 2010, Scalon Cellars was born,” Goodwin explained.
In 2014 the team added renowned winemaker Julien Fayard, who likes to say he creates “terroir-driven wines made with French finesse.” Goodwin stated, “Fayard was the missing link to our team and has raised our program to a level we are extremely proud of.”
Napa tasting room with a view
The brand’s most recent stroke of luck came in November 2021 when they opened a new tasting room in Napa’s historic 19th-century Sawyer-Tannery complex along the Napa River. From these windows there is a view of Scalon Cellars’ very own Coombsville vineyard tucked up against the foothills of the Vaca Range. Yet this perfect alignment was not realized beforehand, Goodwin confided.
“We’re not about a traditional sense of place; we’re about the essence,” he suggested. “Jesus is on a tractor and Cruz is in jeans and sneakers, stepping off-site from one of the 200-plus wine caves he’s worked on over the years. There’s no pretense.”
It’s a Priority
Do not miss the brand’s signature Priority, a Bordeaux-style blend that took years to perfect. Garnet-colored, it’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc — all Coombsville-grown fruit. Goodwin remarked, “Allocations are offered directly to our mailing list, including some that aren’t poured in the tasting room. We continue to score high and are proud to be recognized as one of the best values in the valley.”