Rocca Family Vineyards Vespera 2011
In 1999, that dream came to fruition. A three-year search for the perfect vineyard finally yielded results: a 21-acre vineyard nestled deep in the heart of the Napa Valley, where the pair had made their home for over a decade. After renaming the new parcel The Grigsby Vineyard, Mary devoted her full attention to the new project, while Eric continued to cultivate a career as one of the nation’s most respected pain management physicians. Mary’s first years in the wine business were hectic, to say the least: With four children under the age of 13, a family grocery store on the West Marin Coast to manage, and the steep learning curve of running the world-class Grigsby Vineyard, just keeping it all together was an achievement in itself.
Mary called upon renowned winemaker Celia Welch Masyczek to produce the label’s first vintages. The debut bottling was the 2000 Syrah, a varietal which to this day garners praise and awards for the Rocca family. But Rocca really got on the map in 2002, when its Grigsby Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon came in #1 in a blind tasting of 12 Rising Star Cabernets at the Vintners Club tasting in the U.S. Later, the wine was taken with a group of 12 other Cabernets to show in France's 12 Best Cabernets from California. It came in #1 over there as well. Finally, those same 12 Cabs had another blind tasting competition in SF to see how they would rank by American consumers. We came in #1 again! Rocca’s star was rising fast.
The following year, Mary purchased the 11-acre Colinetta Vineyard, planted on a small hill in the Coombsville Appellation, several miles east of downtown Napa. These two vineyards produce some of the Valley’s finest winegrapes, and in turn, some of the Valley’s finest wines. In 2008, Celia passed the winemaking baton to Paul Colantuoni, who has continued to produce world-class wines under the Rocca label. His non-interventionist approach to winemaking allows the unique characteristics of each vineyard, and each growing season, to shine.“These sites have all of the pieces in place to make world-class wine, so my job is mainly to stand out of the fruit’s way,” he says.
Years of accolades in the press and popular opinion have established Rocca as one of the industry’s finest wine producers, a reputation the team is happy to uphold.
Undoubtedly proving its merit over and over, Napa Valley is a now a leading force in the world of prestigious red wine regions. Though Cabernet Sauvignon dominates Napa Valley, other red varieties certainly thrive here. Important but often overlooked include Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties well-regarded on their own as well as for their blending capacities. Very old vine Zinfandel represents an important historical stronghold for the region and Pinot noir is produced in the cooler southern parts, close to the San Pablo Bay.
Perfectly situated running north to south, the valley acts as a corridor, pulling cool, moist air up from the San Pablo Bay in the evenings during the hot days of the growing season, which leads to even and slow grape ripening. Furthermore the valley claims over 100 soil variations including layers of volcanic, gravel, sand and silt—a combination excellent for world-class red wine production.