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Cornerstone Cellars

Cellar Blog
 
July 23, 2014 | Cellar Blog

Meet Our Team - Nadia

My name is Nadia and I moved to Napa in 2004 to pursue a career in culinary arts following my graduation from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After completing my externship at Julia’s Kitchen in Napa I went on to manage the catering department for Dean & Deluca in Saint Helena. In 2006 I decided to follow my dream of traveling and working overseas and went to Australia and New Zealand for three months. It was during this time that my passion for wine, that had been awakened while working with wineries at Dean & Deluca, continued to grow exponentially. Upon return to the US, I followed this passion to Domaine Chandon, eventually working my way up through tasting room management and then onto marketing and communications positions for both Domaine Chandon and Newton Vineyard. After nearly seven years, I left Domaine Chandon and Newton Vineyard and took my career to the next step and joined Cornerstone Cellars in 2013 as the wine club and e-commerce director. I am now the director of consumer sales for Cornerstone Cellars, overseeing the wine club, e-commerce and the tasting room operations.   

Time Posted: Jul 23, 2014 at 8:45 AM
Cellar Blog
 
July 16, 2014 | Cellar Blog

Meet Our Team - Stefanie

My name is Stefanie and I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After completion of my psychology degree from the University of Minnesota, I moved west to Denver, Colorado. Denver is where my three children were born and I enjoyed being a stay at home mom. The move west continued in 2004 when my husband's job moved us to Southern California. We settled in the Temecula area which is north and inland from San Diego. This is where I got my start in the wine industry, as Temecula is a grape growing region with over 40 wineries. Six years later, another job related move brought us to Northern California, where we settled in the town of Napa. This move was very exciting as it provided me with more opportunities within the wine industry and the opportunity to grow as a wine professional. In addition to enjoying all that the region has to offer, I enjoy spending time with my family and occasionally indulging in my passion on the golf course. 

Cellar Blog
 
July 10, 2014 | Cellar Blog

Meet Our Team - Katherine

I have lived in the Napa Valley for just over a year, but spent most of my life near Atlanta, Georgia. During my career with a big box retailer, I fell in love with food and wine and decided to make a career out of something delicious. I worked for a small artisanal dairy and organic produce farm selling cheese and produce to the chefs of Atlanta’s best restaurants. My husband and I decided to move our family to Northern California and we had the good fortune to land in the world’s best wine region and I joined the Cornerstone team in March.

Cellar Blog
 
June 30, 2014 | Cellar Blog

Meet Our Team - Celeste

I was born in the Azores islands in a town called Terceira. My family and I came to the United States when I was eight years of age. I lived on a dairy farm milking cows in central California until I was twenty years old. I then moved to San Diego where I went to UCSD to pursue my education in Biology. During this time I was working full time for a defense system company doing government contracts. I traveled to many third world countries helping our clients implement a new software program. Soon this became tiresome. Shortly thereafter I quit my job and went to work in a restaurant having no experience whatsoever. This is where my obsession for wine began. A few years later I became a Level 1, 2 and a Certified Wine Specialist in two years time. I was on a mission to learn all I could. During my years as a sommelier I traveled to Napa for “research” and fell madly in love with the magic of this place. I knew that someday this is where I would call home. Last September I took the plunge and relocated to Napa working as a harvest intern at Laird Family Estates. It was such a great experience being able to really understand the production side of the wine world. Six months later I began working for Cornerstone Cellars as the Tasting Room Manager. My goal is to eventually become a winemaker. Not necessarily a famous one, but just being able to create a wine that I can call my own! Who knew that after all of my years wearing rubber boots on the dairy that I would wear them again in a winery!!

Cellar Blog
 
June 19, 2014 | Cellar Blog

Meet Our Team - Megan

 

My name is Megan Myers. I am a Bay Area native from Novato, California. After High School I explored many career opportunities from Cosmetology to Veterinary Assisting. I finally settled down in Kenwood, California and found my passion in the wine industry. It all started in 2009 at a small boutique winery in Sonoma, California. From there I moved to San Francisco and became an Event Coordinator for JAQK Cellars. In early 2014 I decided that the city life was not for me. It was then I realized that I belong in the heart of wine country to continue my education attending Napa Valley Wine Academy. I am now a Wine Educator at Cornerstone Cellars and working toward my CWS Certification.

Time Posted: Jun 19, 2014 at 2:23 PM
Craig Camp
 
June 16, 2014 | Craig Camp

Kick in the Butt

Sometimes a pat on the back also gives you a kick in the butt. It never hurts to have some fuel tossed on the the fire of the passion you are pursuing. That is how I feel about Alder Yarrow's article about me and Cornerstone Cellars on Vinography.

I knew going in it would be a challenge to market Napa Valley wines made in a more elegant style. Certainly it would have been easier to just make a massive wine, slathering on oak and alcohol in a style many critics adore, but where is the pleasure in making wines you don't like to drink?

When we started releasing our more restrained style of Napa Valley wines we took our lumps from Laube and Parker, which, proudly puts us in a sort of elite club with some very fine winemakers whose vision we share. However, rejection by the old boys club has been more than countered by the likes of this exciting article in Vinography and excellent reviews in Connoisseurs Guide to California Wines, Stephen Tanzer and a host of wine bloggers. 

It's easy to make wines that get big points from the old guard, you can hire a consulting company that guarantees results point-wise (do they charge by the point?). But is it really easier? Does scamming the system just to get those points really bring you satisfaction? Maybe for some, but not for me. 

What brings me satisfaction is tasting a wine we created and having it excite and thrill, well, me. What brings me even more satisfaction is seeing someone else have that experience too.

It also brings true satisfaction to have someone I respect as much as Alder write such a, for me, moving article on the work we are doing at Cornerstone Cellars. Please take the time to read his article at the link below.

Vinography by Alder Yarrow: Building a foundation the right way, the wines of Cornerstone Cellars 

"Cornerstone continues to evolve, but like the rapidly shortening line of a tether ball accelerating towards the pole, the wines of Cornerstone are beginning to gravitate towards a quality and consistency that is quite admirable, and the equal of any of Napa's stalwart producers. Camp and Keene seem to be laying the foundation for becoming a fixture in the valley. Their Yountville tasting room has already become one of the town's most visited, and thanks to Camp, the winery has quickly become among the most successful industry players in social media and new internet technologies such as geofencing.

It has been a great pleasure watching Cornerstone Cellars coalesce over the past few years, and it will be even more fun watching it shift into high-gear now that it has seemingly settled into a comfortable groove. If you don't know these wines, I highly recommend you find some of the 2010s in particular."

Time Posted: Jun 16, 2014 at 10:11 AM
Craig Camp
 
May 10, 2014 | Craig Camp

There is rosé and there is rosé

There is a lot of pink wine out there, but there seems to be fewer and fewer real rosé wines. Just because you’re pink does not mean you’re a rosé.

There are several pretenders to the rosé title out there. The ubiquitous white zinfandel is the domaine of industrial wine production conjured up out of centrifuges and chemistry. Residual sugar provides the only flavor in an otherwise flavorless beverage. Certainly white zinfandel has its role as a starting place for many consumers, who then graduate up to real wine. Unfortunately because it’s pink (or kind of pink anyway) too many people think that all pink wine is sweet plonk. Also, it’s a problem as you can actually make a lovely real rosé from zinfandel.

Then there is the elegant sounding saignée, which when translated sounds less so as it means to bleed. However, it accurately describes this wine making process where juice is removed from a fermenter after a very short time. The original need for this was in cooler regions, where in lighter vintages the technique was used to help concentrate their red wines. A common practice in Burgundy, where they called the resulting wines vin gris as, I guess, the French just have too much respect for real rosé. While this is a good and useful idea in a place like Burgundy, it challenges the imagination as to why someone would feel the urge to actually need to increase the concentration of their red wines in a warm place like California. The down side of producing a pink wine in this manner is that you are harvesting your grapes at ideal ripeness levels for red wine, but not for pink wine. When done in a warm climate you get the candied flavors, higher alcohols and odd neon colors that you see in so many pink wines.

Then there is real rosé. Wines made in the classic tradition of Bandol and Tavel. Vineyards are selected to be for rosé from the start and farmed to create ideal fruit for this type of wine. The grapes are picked when the flavors are fully ripe, but you don’t have to wait for the skin tannins to ripen like you would when making red wine. This means you can pick at higher acids and lower sugars that will give you a balanced, elegant and complex rosé. With a very short contact with the skins to give just a hint of color, real rosé often can be a very light pink, but don’t let that fool you as you’ll find an explosion of flavor waiting for you. The lower sugars mean you can ferment to absolute dryness without excessive alcohol levels to mar the fresh fruit flavors. The best of these real rosé wines then spend a short time on the lees in mature oak barrels to broaden flavors and develop a rich, creamy texture. Simply delicious.

Such a wine is our Cornerstone Corallina Napa Valley Syrah Rosé. Corallina is a real rosé made in this classic style. Made as we make our white wines, the fruit was gently whole-cluster pressed over several hours to maintain freshness, elegance and complexity. Corallina Syrah Rosé is then fermented to total dryness then followed by five months in barrel as we patiently wait for every part of the wine to come into full harmony. Produced from a single vineyard in Oak Knoll, Corallina Syrah Rosé is both a pleasure to look at and to drink, a classic rosé at its best.

You can find our Corallina Syrah Rosé here: http://d.pr/n/42Ws

Craig Camp
 
May 6, 2014 | Craig Camp

Curiously Cabernet

Indeed Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon tastes curiously like cabernet, or, at least like cabernet used to be. Used to be as in the wines that made the Napa Valley great like those that won the famed Judgement of Paris in 1976. Perhaps the most important aspect of the Judgement of Paris was not that the California wines won both the white and red judging, but that the judges themselves could not discern which wines were French and which Californian. Such a confusion is not likely to take place today as Californian wines have increased in girth, dominated by sweet oak, overripe fruit and alcohol. The fashion for big wine with big flavor, promoted by certain critics, erased the character of the noble cabernet sauvignon variety as well as any sense of place the vineyard itself. The resulting wines showcased winemaking technique instead of treasuring the character of variety and vineyard.

There have always been producers that ignored fashion to make elegant wines which honored the true flavors of Cabernet. Wineries like Corison, Dunn and Ridge have carried that flame for decades. I am proud to say Cornerstone Cellars has joined that group of wineries making wines that taste curiously like Cabernet Sauvignon. 

What does Cabernet Sauvignon taste like? First of all it does not taste jammy, sweet, flabby or like oak barrels. Classic Cabernet is bright and alive with a herbal tingle that wakes the tastebuds. Most of all, everything is brought into sharp focus by a fine tannic structure that makes Cabernet Sauvignon the most intellectual of wines. Pinot noir may be the most sensual, but Cabernet is the most thought provoking.

We are now releasing several new wines that taste curiously Cabernet, now that’s something to think about. For us it’s something that makes us very proud.

- Craig Camp

Craig Camp
 
April 29, 2014 | Craig Camp

Why we are in Oregon

So although we had been in the Napa Valley for two decades when we decided to make Pinot Noir we knew we had to look somewhere other than our home. After all, it is more important where the vine puts down roots than where we had put down our roots. Our vision is to go where the variety loves to be, not to force the variety to grow in a place just because we were there. After all, nothing is more important to a wine than the soil that gave life to the vines. That essence flows from the soil through the roots to be mixed with sunshine to create wine.

Cabernet and Pinot need just the opposite things, as for that matter do Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Cabernet Sauvignon is a slow ripener you need to speed up and Pinot Noir is a fast ripener you need to slow down. The Napa Valley is just not a great place to grow Pinot Noir and the Willamette Valley is no place to try to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cornerstone Cellars is famous for our distinctive Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine of great longevity and breed, and I wanted our Pinot Noir to be equally distinctive. That goal could only lead us to Oregon. In Oregon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have found a home as regal as their home in Burgundy, just as Bordeaux's Cabernets, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc brought their blue blood to the Napa Valley.

Then there was Tony Rynders. How could I pass up the opportunity to work with one of the most dynamic winemakers anywhere? Tony’s talents led Domaine Serene to fame during his decade as winemaker there and before that he made his mark as red winemaker at Hogue Cellars in Washington. When Tony left Domaine Serene to strike out on his own I knew the time was right for Cornerstone to follow our dream to make Pinot Noir.

We make three wines at Cornerstone Oregon. Our Cornerstone Oregon, Willamette Valley Chardonnay is a lean, mean fighting machine type of Chardonnay. No sweet oaky fruit bombs for me. If you love classic Chablis, you’ll love our Oregon Chardonnay. The Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a classic, ageable Pinot Noir with great structure, depth and breed. Our newest Cornerstone Oregon wine is the Stepping Stone Pinot Noir by Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley. As we taste through the barrels each vintage, certain ones just seem so pretty and drinkable right now so we figured why resist them? Our Stepping Stone Pinot Noir is a barrel selection of those charming wines, while our Cornerstone Oregon Pinot Noir is a barrel selection of wines destined for greatness. One is pure charm and the other a true aristocrat. 

Now as we approach our seventh vintage in Oregon our roots have grown deep in both the soils of the Napa and Willamette Valleys where, with each vintage, they get deeper every year. Soon they will be as deep as our roots on Howell Mountain. Great wine comes from deep roots.