Millions of tourists take in the idyllic splendor of Napa Valley each year. And seldom is the visitor who does not fantasize about becoming a winery owner. Yet the reality is stark. As the local joke, oft repeated has it: “If you want to make a million in the wine business, start out with three.”
When Henry and Olga Patland visited Napa, they too fell in love with the region and gradually developed a determination to pursue their passion for wine.
Henry Patland’s family (two grandmothers, his parents, a sister, and himself) emigrated from Ukraine in 1978. They arrived in California in 1979, when he was just 12 years old. Five years later, he entered UC Santa Cruz, where he studied computer engineering and met his future business partner, Wade Ogle. Together, they would build an innovative high-tech business, Integral Solutions. The success of that company would ultimately finance Henry’s other passion, wine.
Olga’s family also emigrated from Ukraine, and she and Henry met in college, where she had pursued degrees in communications and marketing. They married in 1989. In the late 1990s, with the stresses and demands of starting a business and a family in tandem, the only vacations Olga and Henry could afford were the day visits to nearby Napa Valley. They quickly learned to appreciate great wine, but did not have enough funds to acquire it. They frequented small vineyards and artisanal, “mom and pop” wineries; the brands which were completely hands-on. Over the years, they watched the evolution and the success of such businesses. They were intrigued, inspired and infatuated, and they began to dream of owning their own winery.
Then, in 2007, Henry received an offer to buy his company. By fateful coincidence, during that time, he and Olga also discovered a Soda Canyon vineyard, “Terra del Cuore” (Italian for “Land of the Heart”) True to its name, it captured their hearts. It was, for them, the perfect property.
Atop a terraced mesa, on 36 acres at 1600 ft. elevation sits a troika of breathtaking, Mediterranean-style houses. The expansive views stretch as far as San Pablo Bay and Mt. Diablo. The grounds include fruit (such as pomegranate) and olive trees, cypresses, and oleander. Flowerbeds and vines further enhance the landscape. The property held massive untapped potential.
However, the offer to buy Integral Solutions fell through. Undaunted, the couple was so captivated by the site that they knew that there was no turning back. They acquired Terra del Cuore from Jack Daniels, founder of Wilson-Daniels, who was relocating to Cabo San Lucas.
Their first task at hand was hiring a winemaker who understood their vision and the challenges at hand. Henry sat down with their vineyard manager, Javier Renteria, and told him that he was looking for a winemaker. Javier asked what kind of wine Henry wanted to produce. His answer was, “bold, complex, rich, layered, delicious, smooth, balanced, Napa Valley-style wine.”
“I know the right guy for you!” Renteria responded. That guy was Jay Buoncristiani, previously the head winemaker at The Hess Collection.
So, in 2007, Patland Estate Vineyards was born. At the time, the property was planted to international varietals, such as Merlot, Petite Syrah and Sangiovese. The original estate blends, crafted in 2007, were made with those grapes. The following year, the coincidence of a trip to South America and their winemaker’s recommendation to convert the winery’s acreage from these varietals to Malbec led to a replanting effort.
Today, 100 percent of Patland’s boutique estate bottlings are made from Malbec. Initially they planned to only make red wine. They wanted to produce the fine wines their younger selves had wanted to drink, but could not afford. However, today they also produce Chardonnay, Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc from grapes sourced from several vineyards in Napa.
At the same time, the estate’s branding began to take shape. Their eldest son, Michael, created labels inspired by paintings the family acquired from a Bay Area artist who was originally from Croatia. Then a trip to Jerusalem yielded a momentous find, a silver coin that dated to 67 C.E. and had the image of a pomegranate on one side. Their Napa property had come planted with a number of pomegranates, which reminded Henry of Ukraine. Olga decided that the fruit would become a central symbol in their wine packaging. Now, the image of the coin is embossed on the front label of all their wines.
Many wineries strive to create highly coveted, small production, hard-to-find wines that sell direct to consumers. The Patlands currently produce around 2500 cases per year and plan to cap production at 5000, which makes for adequate scale, yet keeps the operation small enough to hand-craft the wines. In his own words:
Patland Estate Vineyards started as a labor of love. My wife and I found ourselves with the amazing opportunity to start making wine, and we were determined to make the best wine we could. While we hoped everyone else would enjoy Patland wines, our highest priority was to make wines that we ourselves would be proud to drink. Since we began, I’ve been pleased to see great interest and involvement from my children. As a result, what began as a hobby has now transformed into a real family business. We hope that the future will involve many more generations of the Patland family, and that soon the name will sit among the Napa Valley greats.
Their son Michael has taken an active and avid interest in the business, designing an exceptional visitor experience. Customers can taste in the Caves at Soda Canyon, where the wine is actually produced. Or they can select a tasting at the Patland Estate – Terra Del Cuore. Regardless, the setting is always gorgeous. The wines are delicious and selected based upon the guests’ tastes and the season. They strive to add a “personal touch.”
But, in the end, it is all about the wine. And Patland Estate Vineyards has received numerous awards and excellent industry recognition, attracting the attention of savvy wine aficionados. Their limited production, handcrafted wines, are beautifully made, true to their varietal character. The couple’s persistence and passion have paid off.
I always say, “Good wine isn’t good wine. Different wine is good wine.” For me, the fun of wine isn’t always about how much I like whatever is in my glass, rather it’s about learning and experiencing something new. In fact, my friend and I once finished half a bottle of badly corked wine just so we’d never forget the taste! I’m not talking about corked wine right now, though. Instead, I want to talk about the Patland Rosé. I think we can all agree it is not a typical rosé.
My guests always ask me what my favorite wines are, and while my answer probably changes every month, our Rosé always seems to make it into the Top Three. Why? Because it’s so surprisingly different!
Most people when they think about rosé wine have an image in their mind of pinkish, salmon-colored wine. It’s usually light in body—almost airy, and floral on the nose. It also tends to say ‘Provence’ on the label. The reason for that is that the French invented a winemaking process specifically for rosé production called ‘Saignée’—meaning “bleed off”.
Nowadays, Saignée is a widely used method of making rosé around the world, so you’re just as likely to see a Provence-style wine in Napa as you are in France.
Before I tell you about how the Patland Rosé is made, I want to make sure you understand this Saignée process. So let’s take a few steps back… You’re standing out in your vineyard. You taste your Pinot Noir and it’s at that perfect level of ripeness, so you give the go ahead to pick it. The harvest starts early in the morning, and by noon you’ve got all of your fruit at the winery. All your grape clusters are sitting in this big, plastic container, and then you go ahead and dump them into a de-stemmer. Whole clusters go in, and berries come out. The berries are now vibrating down a sorting table, where a few people are picking out the underripe berries, the raisins, the leaves, and other non-berry objects. As the berries reach the end of the sorting table, they are then redirected into a fermentation tank.
The berries will then sit in this tank—crushing each other—for seven to fourteen days. As the fruit weighs down on itself, the berries will naturally break and start to release juice. That juice is typically the bulk of the finished wine, and it is directed into barrels for aging. The rest of the berries are put into a basket press, and the juice pressed off from there is also put into barrels for aging. Later down the line, the winemaker will taste the different barrels and decide which ones he wants to blend and how in order to make the final product.
So where does the rosé happen? It happens right after the fruit is put into the fermentation tank. You are literally ‘bleeding off’ the juice from that tank. The sooner you do it—the less time the juice has had to extract color from the skins—and the lighter the color of your rosé. (Note: The inside of red and white wine grapes look the same.) If you bleed off the juice a little later, you’ll have a darker rosé. If you do it right away, you’ll have a light-colored, Provence-style rosé.
Hopefully now that you’re clear on the classic method of rosé, we can talk about how Patland does it. Many wineries that make a Saignée style rosé are essentially using the by-product of a red wine they’re making to produce a second wine. For Patland Estate Vineyards, we actually source fruit specifically for our Rosé wine. Typically we use a blend of Syrah and Malbec, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s just pretend it’s 100% Syrah. When our fruit comes into the winery, it doesn’t get dumped into a de-stemmer. Instead, whole clusters are placed into something called a ‘Bladder Press’. A Bladder Press is called that because it essentially has a big balloon on the inside, that is slowly inflated. As the balloon expands, it applies more pressure to the whole berry clusters and pushes them against the sides of the tank. Now this entire process can happen very quickly—the clusters are pressed, the juice is released, it’s directed into a stainless steel tank. Or it can happen very slowly, in which case the juice that’s being released actually has a lot more time to intermingle with the berry skins. For the Patland rosé, this process happens very slowly, resulting in a highly extracted rosé!
If you’ve ever had a glass of Patland Rosé, I’m sure you’ve noticed its color in the glass. It’s a very deep pinkish-red. When I say ‘extracted’ though, I don’t just mean the color. The aromas are jumping out of the glass too! You can actually smell the fruit on this wine without picking up the glass. Of course, it’s also one of the juiciest, most luscious rosés I’ve ever tasted, and you’ll taste it for a good while after you swallow too! This wine really lingers.
So I hope you now have a slightly better understanding for how rosé is made, and please feel free to comment if you have any questions.
In today's race toward sustainability, some people are thinking very literally...
In 2012, Rafael de Mestre took home the record for fastest time around the world in an electric vehicle. Now, in 2016, eleven international teams are competing for the title. More importantly though, each of these teams is an ambassador for the EVolution of transportation, helping us transition all the sooner into a sustainable future.
Patland Estate Vineyards was fortunate for the opportunity to host Team China on their 80 e-Day Journey. On July 8th, as Team China drove to make history, they stopped off for a bit of R&R at Terra Del Cuore. It was great to mingle with our friends in China, and also to share with them a bit about what makes Napa Valley so great.
While on their trip, a very interesting car happened to join Team China--the first fully electric Ferrari! Of course, Henry Patland couldn't resist but to break out his own 2009 Ferrari 430 Scuderia Spider 16M. In addition, Henry invited his friends at Ferrari Owner's Group (FOG) to join the welcome party! Some of you may know that FOG is a charitable foundation working closely with Make-A-Wish Foundation. As such, a portion of the proceeds from the event and a sizable donation from Team China went directly to Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Helping children. Making history. Driving cars. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!
For all you car enthusiasts out there, watch the video above to learn a little more about the world's first electric Ferrari!
If you’ve ever been to the Patland Estate, then you’ve seen the olive trees. It’s a Tuscan-style estate, so it’s no surprise the place is littered with them. There’s even an olive orchard hidden on the backside of the property.
In 2007, our first year of wine production, we also made olive oil! It was delicious, and ever since, people have been begging us to make some more. Well, this year we finally listened!
We are pleased to bring you 100 bottles of Patland Olive Oil this year. Yes, that’s all. Exactly 100 bottles were produced from the estate, and most of it is up for grabs. Click here to order your bottle.
As many of you read in our newsletter, Patland Estate Vineyards returned to Premiere Napa Valley this year. We aimed to make a big splash, and it sure looks like we did! Patland was poured at three different preview events, and then, finally, at the main event itself. We got some great exposure, a ton of compliments on the wine, and best of all, we helped Napa Valley Vintners raise FIVE MILLION DOLLARS to benefit the Napa Valley.
On February 18th, Patland Estate Vineyards participated in NG: Next Generation in Wine's annual trade tasting. Hosted at Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena, this event was a huge success! The following morning, Patland went on to pour at a private trade event hosted by PEJU Province Winery. Pouring alongside some wonderful vintners, like Lisa from PEJU and Eddy from Amizetta, this event was a lot of fun! Just hours later, the Patland team was back at the estate to partner with Buoncristiani Family Winery for a very special preview party. Nearly the entire wine lineup from both wineries was featured, and it was a pleasure to have winemaker—for both wineries—Jay Buoncristiani present to talk about his wonderful work.
Following a fun couple days, it was time for the main event! Bright and early, Michael and Henry Patland drove up to the Culinary Institute of America to showcase an extremely limited and unique wine. Hear Jay tell you a little about it in the video above.
In 2015, deer made their way onto the Patland Estate. Having only a few acres planted, it wasn’t difficult for those deer to fill up on almost ALL of our fruit! There was so little left over, in fact, that Michael and Jay were able to hand de-stem all of it—not a common practice anymore. All that Malbec, and we were able to fill up about a tenth of a barrel! With so little fruit, Michael decided to have a little fun. He called his girlfriend over, and asked her to crush the fruit…with her feet! Her very own I Love Lucy grape stomp.
The remainder of that barrel was filled with Malbec from Stagecoach Vineyard. That Malbec was later blended with a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon to create a delicious 2015 bottle sample. That sample was then poured at Premiere Napa Valley. Out of 200 wineries, this was one of four Malbecs poured and possibly the only 2015 wine on the floor! Trust me when I say, it made an impression!
After pouring at STARS of Cabernet 2015 this year, Patland Estate Vineyards was invited to speak on What's Cookin' on Wine CRNTalk Radio. Listen here to to hear Michael Patland and Nicole Nielson discuss the latest in Patland wines.
Sorry! No video on this post.
You may have noticed, most of these articles are written somewhat impromptu. Usually I’ll wait until something interesting is going on, and break out my camera phone to capture it. Well today something interesting happened, but it wasn’t an appropriate time to start videotaping. Regardless, I wanted to share this with you.
People constantly ask me about our wine label. What it means? What inspired it? Where it came from? It’s always my pleasure to tell people. The art that makes up the left side of each label was done by a Croatian artist named Dzemal Emric—a family friend and my art teacher from when I was young.
Today, Dzemal hosted an art exhibition in San Jose. It was a small and intimate gathering where I was able to reconnect with an old friend and teacher. Dzemal and I spoke about our artistic processes, philosophies, sources of inspiration, and much more. These were all things that I hadn’t deeply thought about in many years. At one point in our conversation, Dzemal recalled what I was like as a child artist. He told me that I displayed such passion, that I stood out from the other kids… He remembered how much I loved art—drawing, painting, etc.
Now I never abandoned art. No. I’ve said many times, that instead I found art in a new medium. I saw it in wine, and I embarked on a new journey to understand and master it. But in the last five years that I’ve immersed myself in wine, my previous means of artistic expression was put on the back burners. This show, however, and these conversations I had with Dzemal, they brought something back. I was reminded how wonderful it was to see the world through the eyes of an artist.
Seeing the world in that way means never taking anything for granted. You appreciate beauty everywhere that you may find it. As Dzemal said, one of his paintings was inspired by a book about the ocean. Another was inspired by the intricate decorations on the hats worn by old ladies in his homeland. And several more were inspired by the colors and energy of the Fall season. Too often people are blind to the beauty in front of them. It’s important to step back and look around.
Before I left, I went to say goodbye to Dzemal. He had one last thing to show me. While everyone in the room stood facing the four walls, contemplating all the abstract paintings, Dzemal pointed at the coffee table in the center of the room. I was confused. He showed me the stone tile table top. He showed me the sanded wooden frame around the table top. He showed me the four gold leaf legs of the table. It occurred to me: While everyone tried so hard to understand the paintings on the walls, no one had the vision to see the artwork in the center of the room…
Step back and look around people!
December is obviously a very special month. You’ve got all sorts of fun winter holidays and then finally the new year! This weekend though, we celebrated the most important day of December, the one that puts all others to shame…
Our Mothers’ Birthday!
We did it in classic, Napa Valley style. A three part day of celebration, we began with lunch at one of our new favorite downtown places—Atlas Social. This is one of the best tapas restaurants we’ve ever eaten at, and we’ve been to Spain a couple times… If you get the chance to go, do what we did. Before you even sit down, order one egg for everyone at the table. Perhaps their most popular item, the “egg” is a soft boiled egg, fried in panko crumbs, and served on a bed of bacon jam. The interplay of textures and flavors makes this one of the most unique and satisfying starters we’ve ever tried. Oh, and two bottles of Patland Rosé didn’t hurt either!
Second, we drove our mothers to one of our neighboring wineries—Darioush. There we were met by an extremely knowledgable, enthusiastic, and entertaining tour guide. Jameson took us through about seven delicious wines, the group favorites being the Viognier and Shiraz. Next, we went down below the tasting room to tour the estate. Architecturally speaking, this is one of the most impressive wineries you can find around the Napa Valley. Not to be missed on your next trip!
Lastly, everyone returned to the Patland estate for a brief respite. After just an hour of rest, Chef Munther showed up at the door! Munther is first and foremost an amazing friend, but he is an equally amazing and talented chef. He drove all the way up to Napa to give a private cooking lesson to our moms. After several hectic hours in the kitchen under his tutelage, we had a mind-blowing three course dinner on our hands.
Stuffed Main Lobster Tail
Herb Goat Cheese Stuffing, Prosciutto Wrapped. Served Over Olive Oil Braised Baby Root Vegetable, Lemon Champagne Bure Blanc, Balsamic Glaze, Blood Orange Basil Infusion
Duck Confit Salad
Warm Currant and Syrah Braised Cabbage Salad, Fresh Pomegranate Reduction
Pistachio Crusted Lamb Rack
Basil Infused Fingerling Potatoes, Braised Lemon Kale, Roasted Corn and Saffron Flan, Red Wine Garlic Pan Sauce
To top it off, we paired an inspired selection of wines to the three dishes…
Bremer 2004 Chardonnay
Kosta Brown 2012 Pinot Noir
So if you’re looking for some food and wine pairing ideas, by all means, take a page out of our book. You won’t be disappointed! After all, the moms weren’t…
Happy Birthday Olga Patland and Barb Chappell
This morning I finally got the call to come into the winery. I was so excited; it would be my first time really experiencing crush. I had no idea what I was in for...
After a rough start morning, I raced down Soda Canyon Road to get to The Caves at Soda Canyon--where all our wine is made. When I got there, production was going at full force! Jay quickly found his way to me and motioned for me to follow. Staying close on his heels, I stepped over hoses, into puddles, around buckets, and maneuvered around just about everything else you'd find in a winery. My first job: Stem Sorting
Soon after, I moved up the platform to cluster sorting. Basically removing moldy clusters, leaves, lizards, raisins, and other critters. In no time, all of the Unti Vineyard Zinfandel was sorted and ready to ferment. Then came my next job, hand destemming our estate Malbec. That only took a couple hours... Luckily, I was being well supplied with IPAs. Lastly, I was assigned to do a punchdown on our Port.
For those that don't know, a punch down pushes the "cap" of grape skins down into the juice. We do this for a few reasons. First of all, it allows the juice--soon to be wine--to extract color, tannin, and flavor from the skins. Second, the yeast involved in the fermentation process actually requires some oxygen to survive. The cap forms a seal, blocking the flow of air into the juice. So we punch it down.
Thing is, our Port had a two foot cap that just didn't want to break. I'll just say this wasn't the easiest job I've ever had, and I certainly have more respect for the people that do this daily. Also, I'm a much bigger fan of the pump over method now!
So here I am, my first day of crush behind me. My hands are purple, my clothes are sticky, and I've got a big smile on my face.
At 5:00 AM this morning, I received a text from Patland winemaker, Jay Buoncristiani. He told me to meet him at Unti Vineyards to check on the fruit for our latest project--Patland Zinfandel. Turns out mother nature doesn't give you a whole lot of notice, and neither does your winemaker!
Regardless, I got up, got dressed, and got in the car. I entered in the address and saw that Unti Vineyards, located in Dry Creek, was two hours away. I could care less though. After all, this was the first step to me making my own wine! Not counting my college basement fun, of course...
I met Jay at the Dry Creek General Store. I left my car there--it not being properly suited for dirt roads--and hopped into his truck. Minutes later we were walking through our block of Primitivo (the clone of Zinfandel we decided to use). First, Jay explained what to taste for. Level of tannin in the skins. Flavor of the pulp. Acid and sugar. Then we looked at the color of the seeds, thickness of the skins, and size of the grapes. Lastly, before leaving, we took some samples. Two gallon ziplock bags full of grape clusters, to be lab tested for brix and pH.
On our drive back to Napa, we passed by Ridge Vineyards. If you didn't know, Ridge is widely felt to be one of the top quality producers of Zinfandel. Fortunately, Jay and I had the same idea. We both pulled over and walked eagerly up to the front gate. It was shut. We were an hour past closing. What did we do? We found a gate that was open! After a quick bit of Jay's signature sweet talking, we were in for a VERY last minute tasting. Everything from their current vintage Lytton Springs Zin to their 2005 Pagani Ranch. Needless to say, we were inspired. So much so, that we decided to share a little of our day in the video above.