Black and white normally seem like night and day, but not at Cornerstone Cellars. Here they are just two sides of the same coin. Over the last few vintages we have been evolving towards our winemaking vision. These things take time as you need to work with vineyards over several vintages to truly know them. We are now ready to take the next step with our White Label wines and part of that next step is our Cornerstone Cellars Black Label wines.
Moving forward from the 2013 vintage our White Label wines will be made from an elite set of extraordinary vineyards and will carry those names on their labels. Also, our White Label Wines will expand to include merlot, cabernet franc and syrah single vineyard wines. Our Cornerstone Cellars Black Label wines will be exceptional expressions of the art of blending as we select barrels from our best vineyards and blend them to achieve wines of great harmony, balance and seductive personalities. They will be ready for you to enjoy as soon as we release them, but will improve in the bottle over the next three to five years. Our Black Label wines are what you drink while patiently waiting for our White Label wines to grow up.
I don’t think we could have picked a better vintage than 2012 to introduce our Cornerstone Cellars Black Label wines as it is a classic vintage with great concentration and depth. Our 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Franc, Black Label is our first ever 100% cabernet franc as normally we blend our Bordeaux varieties. While this wine is one hundred percent cabernet franc, it is still a blend. We have combined fruit from three exceptional vineyards for our Black Label Cabernet Franc and each of them add something special: our Oakville Station Vineyard in To Kalon adds depth, power and a velvety texture; the Talcott Vineyard in St. Helena gives structure and richness; the Carrefour Vineyard in Coombsville brings lift, freshness and classic cabernet franc aromatics. Together they create something very, very special.
Equally exciting is our 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Label, which is already racking up 90+ point scores. This blend of 92% cabernet sauvignon, 5.5% merlot and 2.5% cabernet franc created a gentle and harmonious wine exhibiting a fresh, vibrant nose, generously laced with rich red and blackberry fruit and subtle barrel spices with a touch of savory dried herbs to add further nuance and complexity. A youthful, energetic, high-toned palate reveals a deep core of layered berry fruits broadening further to uncover depth and velvety tannins that flow seamlessly, growing in volume. It’s drinking beautifully now and with all its elegance and finesse this enthusiastic wine will grow and evolve and become even more delicious.
- Craig Camp
Thanksgiving is the that wonderful time of year where we gather with our friends and family to enjoy good conversation and laughter while indulging in wonderful food. What often gets overlooked though, is the wine. Like every meal, wine can take your dining experience to the next level and the Thanksgiving meal with its mulitude of flavors can sometimes be daunting to try and pair with wine.
We're here to help. We've gathered delicious Thanksgiving recipes on our Pinterest board that will pair perfectly with our wines. We suggest starting with our Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Chardonnay, or perhaps our Cornerstone Cellars Corallina Napa Valley Syrah Rosé with your appetizers and then move on to one or both of our Cornerstone Oregon Pinot Noirs for the main event. If you're barbecuing or frying a turkey then our Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Franc will pair deliciously with the smokiness of the bird.
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy the celebration!
My name is Lynne. I recently joined Cornerstone Cellars to manage the administrative operations on the Direct To Trade side of the business. We moved to Northern California in 1994 and since then the Napa Valley has enticed me. So, after raising my family, I gained administrative experience in various industries including sales, marketing and hospitality. Now I am able to capitalize on those experiences and work at a premiere boutique winery in the heart of the valley. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, entertaining family and friends and watching baseball or football.
Born in San Francisco, I grew up in Marin County, CA. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Sociology, I left on a backpacking trip around Europe and met my future husband in Barcelona, Spain. I subsequently moved to London for three years and worked in marketing in the toy industry. It was during this time that I began to be interested in wine, starting out first by drinking French and Australian wine.
Before returning to the US, I traveled on a six month round the world trip which included traveling throughout the Middle East, East Africa, and the new world wine regions of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Upon returning to the US, I moved to the Napa Valley where I developed my palate and passion for fine wine and food. After living in Napa 14 years, I am now considered a true “Napkin.” After taking some time off to raise my children, I worked in special events for several Napa Valley wineries and hotels before joining Cornerstone Cellars in January 2014. If not enjoying wine, you will find me at the beach or running around after my two active boys.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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
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
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.