Larkmead, Napa Valley

Larkmead is one of the oldest estates in Napa, founded in 1895, and one of the very few in California that is a single, contiguous block of vines. It is an unusually special site of 45 hectares comprising three distinct soils, and no less than 28 different parcels, each with its own unique terroir. Celebrated winemaker Dan Petroski practises parcel-based winemaking to express the rich variation of soils present on the estate and create serious, long-lived bottles that are a joy to drink.

Larkmead's reputation has been spread chiefly through word of mouth; indeed, almost the entire production is sold through their mailing list. Dan Petroski is well known in the wine community today, but originally he began in the publishing industry, working for high profile magazine publications in New York City.  9/11 changed Dan’s outlook on what was important to him, and in 2005 he “packed his bags and went to Sicily” where he lived in Catania and worked in vineyards, visited different parts of Italy and learned about the culture of wine. Back in the US, he took an internship with Andy Smith at DuMoll with whom he built a lasting friendship: it was a bottle of 1985 Chateau Haut-Brion they shared over a harvest dinner that convinced Dan he wanted to make great Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Although they had only known each other for one harvest, Andy offered Dan the job in the cellars to make wine at Larkmead in 2006. Here Dan learned everything about the Larkmead site – plot by plot – committing to memory the taste of each parcel, at every stage in the winemaking process. Larkmead has been rejuvenated in the past decade, including extensive replanting, and building - then rebuilding - of the winery, so that there are now 28 tanks to vinify the 28 different parcels of the terroir. Located in Calistoga, surrounded by mountains with the Napa river running right through the site, the estate has an incredible diversity of soils.

Dan’s approach to the terroir and the estate is one of deep respect: he takes the utmost care in harvesting and winemaking to preserve the site specific character of each parcel, work which he sees as respectful to the family who have owned the property for more than 60 years.  This dedication also means that his wines have unusual complexity and nuance. These are alluring, enticing wines, finely wrought, that have a great future ahead of them.

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