Classic Napa Cabernets

Napa is known throughout the world for its wine, specifically its Cabernet Sauvignon.  There are many wineries and vineyards which have helped to distinguish Napa as a premier source of Cabernet Sauvignon. However, there are two that I believe deserve special credit for turning Napa into the wine powerhouse that it is today:

Caymus was started by Charles "Charlie" Wagner and Lorna Belle Glos Wagner in 1971, with their first vintage in 1972. Originally the Wagners planned to sell their ranch in Napa Valley, but a partnership with their recently high school graduated son, Chuck, led to the creation of the Caymus winery.  Caymus is still 100% family owned.
The first vintage was a Cabernet Sauvignon, and Caymus has since been a pinnacle of excellence in Napa Cabs to which other wineries continue to aspire.  To this day, Caymus consistently peaks the lists of top wines in industry publications.
Chuck Wagner's children have now joined the wine industry and the Wagner brands have extended past Caymus to include Mer Soleil, Conundrum, Belle Glos, and Emollo.

Dunn Vineyards has been owned and operated by Randy Dunn and family since 1979.  Randy Dunn had previously made wine for Caymus, Livingston, La Jota, Pahlmeyer, and Palmaz. With such a stellar track record, he was obviously poised for success with his own label! He took his experience and moved to Howell Mountain to start his own winery and has been producing fantastic vintages ever since.
Dunn is a family run winery with Randy Dunn's son and daughter alongside him at the helm running the cellar and marketing functions.  Randy's son, Mike, has even started his own wine label, Retro Cellars.
Currently, Randy Dunn also makes wine under the label Feather for the Long Shadows Wineries group. Long Shadows is a collective brainchild where renowned winemakers from across the globe collaborate and come to Washington state to make wine. It is responsible for such labels as Feather, Chester-Kidder, Pedestal, Pirouette, Poet's Leap, Saggi, and Sequel.

So if you are on the journey to discovering classic California Cabernet Sauvignon, make certain that Caymus and Dunn are on your list. (And if you expand your geographical borders, give Feather and other Long Shadows bottlings a whirl as well -will not disappoint!)
Ari Zimmerman
Templar of Tonics