The Journey Begins
“Man, I’ve got to do this. It’s going to be a lot of fun.” ~ Winemaker Andy Erickson, on joining Seven Apart
The Journal | Vol. 1
As our winemaker Andy Erickson says, Seven Apart is “Napa at its peak.” It’s like nothing he’s ever experienced, nothing like any of us have ever experienced.
Andy’s been making wine in Napa Valley for over 25 years, and in that time he’s worked with the greatest vineyards, absolute classics. For fans of Napa wine, he’s an icon. And though he’s tied to some of Napa’s cult Cabernets, including world-renowned Screaming Eagle, he never makes wines to match the image of other top wines. Instead he crafts wine that expresses the place where it was grown. There is no other terroir like that of Seven Apart.
“I haven’t taken on any new wine projects in four years, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking to,” says Andy. “But when I heard about Seven Apart, I couldn’t refuse.”
One of the great vineyards in Napa Valley
Seven Apart’s Stags Ridge Vineyard sits on the rocky, volcanic soil up on Atlas Peak—the valley’s most prominent summit—on the western slopes of the Vaca Range. It was largely this setting that compelled Andy to work with Seven Apart, which he was introduced to over coffee one morning in September 2019.
After less than a day absorbing the potential of Seven Apart, he was all in: “By 6:00 pm, I called my wife.” Andy says he told her on the spot: “‘I’ve got a new project.’ It’s cool when everything comes together.”
To get a feel for what Andy saw when he took in the vineyards that day, imagine being at the top of one of the world’s greatest wine growing regions, a setting eons in the making. Volcanic rocks waited for two million years until this plot was prepared. Planted in 1999, this vineyard is elevated 1,400 feet above the foothills of the Stags Leap District, northeast of Napa town.
“If you drive up Atlas Peak,” says Andy, “You feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.” It’s rugged (a “surface mine” of volcanic rock, according to Andy) but beautiful. Stunning. Harsh. There’s very little water up here, and there’s a healthy dose of cool bay breezes.
“You get these dark, aromatic, color-dense berries,” says Andy. “I love wines from great places, this is one of those things where this vineyard is really great.”
This is what makes Seven Apart the most anticipated wine in decades. Four distinct, handcrafted bottlings from Atlas Peak will be available by allocation only, with the first released in Fall 2020. These wines will age for decades and are sure to represent the next generation of excellence from Napa Valley.
“The goal is to push this vineyard to the limit and produce the most exciting wine possible,” says Andy. “This truly is Napa at its peak.”
Where everything comes together
Seven Apart is crafted in a state-of-the-art facility, seven miles down the mountain where Soda Canyon Road meets Silverado Trail. Andy says this winery has “everything you’d want to make wine.” Here he works with his acclaimed winemaking team, including associate winemakers Jessica Tarpy Shaheen and Patrick Nyeholt, and cellar master Jorge Lopez.
Seven Apart’s second plot, Base Camp Vineyard, thrives in the rolling foothills that surround the winery, at the end of Soda Canyon Road. Growing here is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Replanting plans are underway for some of the vines.
This location is, as Andy says: “Sort of hidden, sort of in the middle of everything.” Grapes from this vineyard are blended into Seven Apart’s first wine, Expedition, which Andy describes as “classic Napa Valley.” In Fall of 2020, 60 barrels of Expedition’s 2018 vintage will be released via the winery’s allocation list.
Over the horizon is Seven Apart’s exquisite tasting facility, under the guidance of wine industry veteran, general manager Yannick Girardo. The team hopes construction will kick off later this year and be complete in 2021. Watch this space for news.
About Napa Valley winemaker Andy Erickson
Andy has a Master’s degree in Enology from University of California in Davis, and has worked with wineries in California, Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Time spent in France, including a summer abroad during university, fueled Andy’s passion for the concept of terroir.
He’s also the founder of Favia wines, which he co-own with his wife, viticulturist Annie Favia. He brings his own winemaking team to support him at Seven Apart.
In addition to Seven Apart, his current winemaking clients include Dalla Valle, Arietta, Mayacamas, Ellman Family Vineyards, Cervantes Family Vineyards, and To Kalon Vineyard Company in the Napa Valley. His past experience includes work at Screaming Eagle, Staglin Family Vineyard, Harlan Estate, Spottswoode, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Ovid Napa Valley.