Wines That Inspire
Wallis Family Estate’s origin story is a bit different from those of other Napa Valley wineries. Though Edward Wallis pilgrim- aged to Napa in 1975, like others who would eventually put the winemaking region on the world map, Wallis was simply seeking a bucolic country abode. After graduating from the University of California, wine was the last thing on his mind when, at age 23, he fell in love with his 85-acre Calistoga property and moved to Diamond Mountain Road. He spent two decades as a local real estate developer, raising his family and enjoying the vinous spoils of his chosen home, but with little interest in joining the winemaking movement. And then, in 1997, the ‘wine bug’ finally bit. He and his wife Marilyn planted 13 acres of vines, and initially sold the bounty to wineries such as Ramey, Lokoya, and Duckhorn, before creating their own winery in 2006.
“After tasting the superb Cabernet Sauvignon that Ramey and Lokoya were making from our vineyard fruit, we decided to make wine for ourselves and showcase the benefits of our hard work,” said Wallis, who hired the famed Thomas Rivers Brown to take the Wallis Family Estate winemaking reigns.
Inspired by his own experiences with the camaraderie that wine invariably creates, Wallis named and labeled his bottlings to encourage heightened conversation. Seraphin and Denali – both 100% estate Cabernet Sauvignon boast dramatic labels, silkscreened at Bergin Glass Works in 24 gold and platinum. Each is a work of art, as beautiful as the wines are delicious, and each is surprisingly attainable. Though production is a mere 1000 cases, Wallis makes his wines available in 214 stores throughout 26 states.
He looks forward to opening his historic Calistoga property to guests one day and is currently working on refurbishing and retrofitting a stately stone castle and a carriage house that he inherited when he purchased the land. Originally built in 1906 by Jacques Pacheteau, the castle features stunning views of the valley and Mt. St. Helena, and will eventually serve as the Wallis Family Estate tasting room. The carriage house, designed by W.H. Corlett and used to store wagons in its previous life, was built in the late 1800s. Both buildings are included in the National Registry of Historic Places for The United States.
“Selling fruit is vastly different than branding and marketing a finished product,” said Wallis, who, after 46 years in the valley, maintains a vast knowledge of the region’s winemaking history and has many a tale to tell. “Growing grapes is the fun part. Branding and selling is a little different but equally as fulfilling. We look forward to soon welcoming guests to Wallis Family Estate and sharing both the region’s history, as well as the remark- able wines created by our Diamond Mountain District terroir.”
WALLIS FAMILY ESTATE
Article By: Fran Miller