Behind The Bottle #1 | Seven Apart Expedition

“Award-winning Napa Valley winemaker Andy Erickson takes you Behind the Bottle to introduce Seven Apart Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon. The latest Seven Apart Expedition vintage 2019 is now available.”

Seven Apart was established in late 2019. The brainchild of founder Don Dady, this world-class winery is a dream realized. With ambitions as high as the peaks of the surrounding Vaca mountains, Don enrolled none other than Napa Valley winemaking luminary Andy Erickson. The vision? To produce extreme mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon that expresses the best of the lauded Atlas Peak appellation.

Under Andy’s stewardship, four distinct Seven Apart Cabernet Sauvignon wines have come to fruition: Seven Apart Expedition, Seven Apart Shale, Seven Apart Basalt, and Seven Apart Summit. In this four-part journal series, Andy goes behind the bottle of each wine to share the full story. Whether you’re new to Seven Apart or a devoted aficionado, here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Seven Apart Expedition. 

Behind the Name

Expedition [noun]

Meaning: ‘A journey undertaken with a particular purpose, especially that of exploration.’

For those just starting their journey with Seven Apart, Seven Apart Expedition is really where it all begins. To make this wine, Andy and the winegrowing team head out to explore the Atlas Peak mountain from top to bottom in search of the best fruit. This Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of grapes harvested from both our Base Camp vineyard and Stags Ridge mountain vineyard. 

“I love the name ‘Seven Apart Expedition’ as it really shines a light on how wine is a journey. When you see how steep and rugged Stags Ridge vineyard is, you’ll realize that nothing in our winemaking process is a coincidence. Much like the goal of an expedition, every grape in the bottle serves a particular purpose,” opens Andy. 

As a mixture of vineyards, the purpose of Seven Apart Expedition is to offer an accessible broad spectrum of flavors and textures that provide the perfect springboard into the world of Seven Apart.

Behind the Vines 

Our Seven Apart Expedition bottling highlights the quality of the vintage as a whole, with fruit from our estate vineyards—Stags Ridge and Base Camp—and our partner growers. To craft the best possible expression of the vineyard, we are relentlessly making improvements to both Stags Ridge and Base Camp.

“Stags Ridge vineyard is made up of mostly solid red volcanic rock. It’s remarkable that vines even manage to grow here! As a result, the root system doesn’t go as deep as it should, so we are busy setting up a double irrigation system to ensure that any vines that were previously lacking in water can now be properly irrigated,” adds Andy. 

Meanwhile, Base Camp is being wholly reimagined and replanted. Both vineyards adhere to strict organic farming practices and will be certified within three years. These projects represent serious endeavors, and we feel the wines we produce each vintage offer a snapshot of where we are at the time. 

Behind the Barrel 

While all Seven Apart wines are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, the Seven Apart Expedition draws a little outside the lines. A blend of  91% Cabernet Sauvignon, the remainder is complemented by 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot to bring complexity, structure, and spice.  

“People may read 1% Petit Verdot and question whether it contributes to the blend in any real way. But Petit Verdot is a fascinating variety in that even 1% can completely change the character of the wine. It’s as dark as ink and adds an alluring deep color to the wine. It also has a pencil lead, earthy tone that helps add nuance to an otherwise fruit-driven wine,” explains Andy.

Described as bright, polished, and high-powered, the 2019 vintage is a fine-tuned blend that is rich and accessible all at once. 

“One of my favorite things about the Seven Apart Expedition is that it is made of so many different components. It’s a very exciting time when we start to blend and sit around with the team to try to figure out what the end product is going to be. As we blend and taste, there’s that point where you look around the table and everybody’s got a smile on their face. All of a sudden, you’ve got it!” smiles Andy.

After a controlled fermentation and long maceration on the skins, the Seven Apart Expedition was aged for eighteen months in French oak, 80% of the barrels being new. This process rounded the tannins, and gave the wine a velvety texture. 

“I like to think of Seven Apart Expedition as the Seven Apart ambassador wine. It’s a great all-rounder that also showcases what the winery can do. With a name like that, it also gives us the freedom to explore and try different things,” ends Andy. 

The 2019 Seven Apart Expedition boasts a red-purple hue that hints at the freshness and intensity of the aromas. In the glass, you’ll be treated to swirls of red cherry, raspberry, and fresh tobacco, as well as notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and graphite. There is a rush of red fruits on the palate, which continues to build in intensity as the wine is savored. The texture is incredibly fine-grained and silky, while the fruit at the wine’s core expands and lengthens on the finish. This youthful wine is very intense—though accessible—right now, and will only gain in complexity and depth with time in the bottle. We think the wine’s true potential will be reached between 2024 and 2034.

Join our Allocation 

With only 60 barrels crafted, the 2019 Seven Apart Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon is now available exclusively by allocation. Join us on this journey as we climb the mountain, push ourselves to the limits, and craft exceptional Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Sign up here if you’re ready to become a member of our allocation list and savor Napa at its peak.