150 years seems like ancient history in American winemaking in our technology-driven lives. It’s especially true when measured in Old World viticulture terms. Heck, the early Romans and Greeks had it down long before the birth of Christ.
For centuries, European winemaking was and, for the most part still is, generational. And throughout its storied history winery ownership has often been sheathed in nobility. The great chateaux of Bordeaux, extended family holdings of the domaines of Burgundy, and Italy’s medieval Marchese’s, who ranked just below Princes, held sway over the vast world of wine for centuries.
Setting aside the early Spanish missionaries who were producing sacramental wines as early as the late 18th century, it took some 200 years before the first commercial wines were being crafted in California. and most of it was in fits and starts, thanks in large part to the Great Depression and Prohibition. It then took another 50 years for America’s wine industry to return to its pre-Repeal halcyon days.
In 1943, an Italian immigrant, his wife, and his two sons, left California’s Central Valley, unknowingly spawning a new era in American wine. Caesar and Rosa Mondavi uprooted their family for the third time in a little more than a decade, moving some 80 miles from the Sierra foothills town of Lodi, to St. Helena in bucolic Napa Valley.
Thus begun the birth of an American wine dynasty now in it’s fourth generation.
Ground-zero of the American wine revolution and home to Caesar, sons and brothers, Robert and Peter, their children and grandchildren, the California wine royalty Mondavis’ are firmly rooted in Napa Valley’s 30-mile long by 5-mile wide swath of cabernet grapes.
With more than a century of wine DNA in their blood, fourth generation brothers, Carlo and Dante Mondavi, scaled the Mayacamas mountain range out of the Napa Valley to the far-flung cool reaches of the Sonoma Coast to produce “Raen“, minuscule amounts of terroir-driven pinot noir.
Like their ancestors before them, great-grandfather Caesar, grandfather Robert, and dad Tim, the Mondavi brothers are forging a new trail. Eschewing the grape that catapulted the family and California wine on to the world stage, Carlo and Dante look to carve a very different chapter in the family history.
From three hillside estate vineyards, Raen are wines that truly speak to the temperament of the Sonoma coast, where the combination of sun, soil and sea can both nurture and torture the vines, producing wines that offer balance and restraint in fruit and alcohol, while delivering beautiful and delicate mineral-driven fruit.
For fans tired of syrupy, syrah-infused, high-alcohol California pinots, Raen is producing wines that are sure to capture the hearts of of pinotphiles of even the greatest Houses of Burgundy!
Current production is a scant 700+ cases. Will brothers Carlo and Dante continue to travel this artisanal trail, choosing not to follow the empire-building footsteps of their grandfather, or instead take a page out of father Tim’s playbook at Continuum, choosing quality over quantity?
We can hope.
To learn more about Raen, visit their website: https://www.raenwinery.com