Verified Napa Valley Micro-Producer Spotlight:
From Weekend Tastings to Estate Ownership: The Story of Campbell Cellars
Written by Joe Campbell
Tim and Carol Campbell’s journey in the world of wine began during their school days at Berkeley, where weekends were often spent venturing in the Napa Valley for tastings. Amid these excursions, they nurtured a dream– a dream of one day owning their own piece of this vinous paradise. The Campbells yearned for a place they could divide their time between Southern California and a newfound haven up north in the Napa Valley. Yet this vision went beyond just a second home; it encompassed a space where their entire family could gather for cherished summers, vacations, and memorable holidays.
The quest for the ideal property consumed a year of their lives, an expedition that culminated in an awe-inspiring moment. When they first laid eyes on the vineyard, nestled in the special nook of Rutherford, in the middle of Napa Valley, they were spellbound. It wasn’t just the vineyard’s unique placement or the rolling hillsides that captured their hearts– it was the house itself, a contemporary craftsman masterpiece built from redwood and designed by John Marsh Davis, known for his remarkable creations across the Napa Valley and beyond, including the iconic Joseph Phelps Winery.
The estate stands out for its elevation, with hillside terraces and a hilltop that offer ideal conditions for growing grapes with unique flavors. The vineyard lies within the Rutherford Bench, where the soil is mostly eroded material from the Mayacamas Mountains. The soil is young and thin, and has a gravelly silty loam texture. It does not hold water well, which makes the vines work harder. This produces smaller berries with a higher seed-to-skin-to-pulp ratio, giving them a richer color and more structured tannins. The quality of the grapes is also enhanced by this stress.
Campbell Cellars’ Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that embodies the essence of Rutherford. The wine reflects the vineyard site specific attributes that distinguish this location that impart a mysterious and spicy element known as “Rutherford Dust.” They take a balanced approach, crafting a wine that is enjoyable in its youth yet capable of aging gracefully for a decade or more. The balance hinges on the interplay between tannin and color, ensuring a harmony within the wine’s expression. With production limited to 100 cases, Campbell Cellars prioritizes quality over quantity. The primary focus is showcasing the unique character and expression of the single estate vineyard. They also use Petite Verdot as a blending grape for their Cabernet Sauvignon, but may bottle it as a standalone wine at a future release if it meets quality thresholds.
Charles McKahn is an integral member of the winemaking team, working in close collaboration and trust with his colleagues. He was brought on board by the family’s friend and vineyard manager, Andrew Opatz. Charles has learned from some of the best winemakers in the industry, and his wines have received high praise and ratings from the critics. He stands out for his endless creativity and his relentless commitment to producing outstanding wines.
While the Campbells have aspirations to collaborate with select retailers and create a small-scale distribution network, their emphasis remains firmly on direct interactions with their clientele. They take pride in their recognition as a Save the Family Farms Verified Napa Valley Micro-Producer and intend to leverage this affiliation with other verified micro-producers to enhance their outreach efforts and establish meaningful long term connections within the wine industry. Their designation reflects the dedication to preserving the heritage and diversity of Napa Valley’s small family farms and producers, as well as their commitment to sustainable and innovative winemaking practices. The Campbells do not have a conventional tasting room facility, but they make up for it with their exceptional wines and personal touch. Their goal is to create lasting bonds with their customers and the wine community.
As the boundaries between family and business have blurred in the most positive way, the journey for Tim and Carol, alongside their daughters Amanda and Christina, and son-in-law Bill, in managing Campbell Cellars has been nothing short of joyous and collaborative. Their shared passion for crafting exceptional wines, strategizing growth, and fostering discussions about the future of the winery has created a bond that goes beyond just business. It is a testament to the strength of family ties and a shared vision that makes Campbell Cellars a heartwarming tale of unity and success.
CAMPBELL VINEYARD PHOTOS
Campbell Cellars 2021 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon
2021 Cabernet Sauvignon- bold, smooth, and rich with flavors of black currant, violet and spices. Its finish is so long-lasting, it will transport you away to another world.
Total Production: 100 cases