The Dot Shows “You are Here”

It is not entirely expected for a retired NASCAR racecar  driver  to  be  drawn  to winemaking, a calling that requires the patience of a saint and a penchant for subtlety, but Danica Patrick defies that notion. She dreamed of owning a vineyard and making wine one day, and in 2009, she achieved that goal. In the decade since she purchased property on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, she has poured her heart into Somnium (Latin for dream), and it is now a highly acclaimed wine producer.

Danica was  intimately  involved in the Somnium wine label design – the  jagged line eludes to a  racetrack  along  life’s journey. The dot above the name – a stylized “You are Here” – symbolizes being in the moment and appreciating the sense of place that wine evokes.

After a decade of watching her vineyard mature and releasing a few vintages, Danica turned to French  Winemaker  Julien Fayard to become Somnium’s wine- maker and expand its portfolio. Fayard’s illustrious resume includes working with his family’s winery in Provence, and later working at Lafite Rothschild and Smith Haut Laffite in Bordeaux before  relocating to Napa Valley in 2006. He served as Philippe Melka’s director of winemaking and has become one of the region’s most respected winemakers.

Somnium’s premier wine from the beginning has been the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, made from 100 percent estate-grown  Cabernet  Sauvignon  aged in 100 percent new French oak. In recent years, Somnium added a small  production of  Rosé  of  Cabernet  Sauvignon  to the offerings. As of June 2020, Somnium Wine offers Sauvignon Blanc from Knights Valley in  Sonoma  County,  California,  and a Cabernet blend of four varietals  from two distinct Napa Valley vineyards – three from  their  estate  property  and  one  from Coombsville.

Somnium operates without a tasting room of its own,  which  seems  irrelevant in the “new normal” of today. General Manager Tracy Smith explained that tastings are provided on an appointment- only basis, catering to each client’s  location and personal taste preferences. That means that the tasting does not have to be in Napa Valley.

Outside Napa Valley, Smith  will  travel to the client for a private, custom experience, either individually or in small groups, in the comfort of home or another carefully selected site. In Napa Valley, a Somnium Brand Ambassador will arrange one-on-one tastings  at  local  restaurants or other establishments as requested. If clients prefer, they can purchase Somnium tasting sets and schedule private virtual tastings.

Smith is a fourth-generation Napa Valley resident with decades of experience in the wine industry and incalculable generational knowledge as a member of one of Napa Valley’s oldest families. According to Smith, the mission  with  these uber-personal wine tastings is to get each client to “put the phone down and enjoy,” and heed that dot on the label, reminding them “You are Here.”




Article By: Layne Randolph // Photos By: WB Photography