The Art of Wine Industry Disruption: The Ghost of Autumn
The Ghost of Autumn is not a typical Napa Valley winery. And its founders, Bradly Tyner and brothers John and Steven Arrambide are not typical vintners. The trio has no formal viticultural education. They are not business titans toying with grapes as a side hustle. They admittedly know little about the inner-workings of the wine business. So how did this group of lifelong friends turn their wine endeavor into one of Napa’s hottest finds?
Chief among their qualifications are lives lived within the Valley. Born and raised in Napa, with a front-row seat to an ever-changing wine industry, the three Vintage High School graduates know their home territory. They’ve played as children within its vineyards, worked as teens within its restaurants, and count as friends nearly everyone within its boundaries.
When the three decided to launch their wine brand, they utilized the expertise readily available via their connections, while also making a distinct pivot.
More than a winery, The Ghost of Autumn is a philosophy. It is a movement. It is a disruption of Napa’s routine winetasting narrative. “When everyone goes right, we go left,” said Bradly. “Our marketing is via social media and word of mouth; we are doing everything differently, and providing a voice for Napa proper.”
“Their work is multi-sensory, bold, and free-thinking,” said friend Ed Lee, a Court of Master certified sommelier and luxury wine ambassador for Penfolds Wine Company. “They collaborate with and celebrate the talents of those within the wine, restaurant, and artist circles. Young as they are, they have a great vision; I sense they will be the ones to connect the increasingly complex millennial generation with the timeless quality of wine.”
The brand combines art, hospitality, mixed-media, and yes, wine. Ultra-fine wine at that, sourced from some of the Valley’s most prestigious vineyards, and bottled in the heaviest glass with wax tips and custom corks. “The Cadillac of every- thing,” said Bradly. Winemaker Fernando Candelario of Voces Cellars crafted the first vintage, a single vineyard Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon that sold out within days of its release. His second vintage, a single vineyard Chalk Hill Malbec is destined to be just as desirable.
Oddly enough, the superior pedigree of each varietal is not necessarily the basis for the brand’s popularity. The Ghost of Autumn fans are captivated by something more. The custom walnut wood box made by Spring Mountain Case Co. and sold with each purchase is a draw, as are the labels featuring original artwork commissioned by the trio. For the Cab, Nashville-based Ty Christian flew to Napa, where he spent several days exploring the area and the vibe. He was then asked to commit his impressions to canvas. The result: An intertwining of multi-ethnic hands holding a single grape, representing the combination of cultures that serve to create the area’s vinous export.
The Chalk Hill Malbec features a label by local artist Danasabe Mohammed. Titled ‘The Ascension of Hope,’ the vivid piece was painted amidst the ‘shelter-in-place’ order and captures a spirit of hope shared by those within the hospitality industry, the artist included, an employee of Yountville’s Bottega.
“When we first released The Ghost of Autumn, we had no idea what to expect,” said Bradly. The winery name honors Bradly’s dog, as well as the fall harvest of grapes. “But we sold out overnight. It was nuts.”
Fans connected with the ethereal nature of the bottling and its artwork – a moment captured in time and also captured via video. Bradly, John, and Steven commit to video the inspirational journey experienced by each artist; they also film the artists at work, from blank canvas, to paint-dolloped palettes, to final product. The videos are powerfully creative and are available for viewing on the winery’s website. “Whatever the artist paints, that’s our label,” said Bradly.
The original artworks hang in a downtown Bed & Breakfast owned by John. A live-in museum of sorts, the B&B is part of The Ghost of Autumn appeal. “Staying here provides a full awareness of what we are doing with the brand,” said John. “Guests can see firsthand the inspiration for our labels and our wines. Not to mention, I am a great host. I build fun experiences for everyone who stays here.”
Hospitality and philosophy notwithstanding, the wines are top-notch. Any of the three owners can and will ‘nerd-out’ on the wines’ provenance, terroir, and tasting notes. “But that gets old,” said Steven. “What we offer is intimate, personal experiences based around a collectible and meaningful product, and as Napa natives, we know the people to best help us make these experiences shine.”
“We are just three friends having a great time in our home town,” said Bradly. “More than anything, this is a labor of love. The wine just happens to be some of the best stuff in Napa. The wine is banging.”
Article By: Fran Miller