The Unwritten Journey
The Journey So Far
By Laurie Jo Miller
Winemaking is not for the hesitant. Looking behind-the-scenes at a premium Napa Valley winery, and one will find people with passions and joie de vivre. In addition to these essential motivators, serendipity can play a leading role.
The Story Begins
Life, after all, is an unwritten journey. For Unwritten Wines, the back story is about embracing the “Aha!” moment. While a group of friends named Randy, Kyle, Kim, Ryan and Matt enjoyed good conversation and outstanding wine one evening, the conversation took a sharp turn. “Why don’t we start our own winery? Let’s just make a barrel of wine and see how it comes out.” Granted, as a strategic approach, it was bare bones. But then, things got more serious. Co-founder Matt Murphy recalls tat the next question was a logical one: “Okay, what do we need? Grapes and a winemaker.” And the unwritten story of this wine began writing itself.
Not Just Any Grapes
The finest Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were sourced from 30-year-old vines thriving in the gravely loam soil vineyards of the historic Lewelling estate, a sweet sport for growing high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon.
And not just any winemaker. Matt said it was a stroke of good fortune when their top pick, noted winemaker Mark Porembski, said “yes” to a partnership, and the dream started to look more like a plan.
Writing More Chapters
Growing from their initial, “let’s make a barrel” proclamation, they produced 50 cases in the 2014 vintage, hand bottled and selectively distributed. The French Laundry and Press Restaurant places Unwritten Wines’ first vintage on the menu, and other bottles were poured and sold to close friends and family. When the inaugural release of premium Cabernet Sauvignon sold out in three weeks, it was time to double down. Increasing to 350 cases in their 2019 vintage, Unwritten Wines collaborated with famed grower, David Abreu, sourcing exceptional grapes from his parcel at Howell Mountain as well as a historic plot in Oakville.
The Written Word
“A study in elegance,” declared Master Sommelier Willi Sherer. In his review of the 2016 vintage, he gives praise by saying, “Many wineries claim their wines emulate the incredible Napa Valley Cabernets of the 1970s; this wine actually achieves that style. On the nose there are scents of tobacco leaf, forest floor and acacia flower. The palate displays flavors of red currant, anise, and a sophisticated not of iron/ clay minerality.”
Co-founder Randy Wigginton observed, “As we poured our passion each weekend into hand-selecting the very best grapes and watching them grow and mature, our bonds as families and as friends also blossomed. Together, we created a wine that is timelessly delicious and decadent – one that can be enjoyed today, twenty years from now by our children and beyond.”
At times like these, overused expressions like “one life to live” and “the power of Mother Nature” take a deeper meaning. But, never mind the words, Unwritten Wines believes the truth is in the wine.