Jeb Dunnuck 2019 Seven Apart Summit – 99 points

“If you can believe it, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Summit is even better and can be thought of as a hypothetical blend of the Shale and Basalt releases, with the elegance of the Shale and the power of the Basalt. Lots of cassis, raspberries, iron, savory herbs, and lead pencil notes emerge on the nose, and this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a deep, layered mid-palate, and enough building tannins to warrant 3-5 years of bottle age. This lengthy, insanely good 2019 will have 20-25+ years of longevity.” – Jeb Dunnuck

Jeb Dunnuck 2019 Seven Apart Basalt – 97+ points

” A bigger, richer wine, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Basalt has a similar darker cherry, plum, and currant driven core of fruit as well more minerality, iron, and roasted herb notes with time in the glass. The palate is on another level and is full-bodied, deep, rich, and concentrated, with incredible tannins as well as balance. This is pure Napa Valley Mountain Cabernet. Hide bottles for 2-4 years, and it’s going to have 25 years or more of overall longevity. Bravo!” -Jeb Dunnack

Antonio Galloni 2020 Seven Apart Expedition Review

“The 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon Expedition is the only wine Seven Apart bottled in 2020. It is one of the better wines I tasted from this very challenging year. Effusive and bright, the 2020 offers up a compelling mélange of dark cherry, plum, crushed flowers and mocha. There’s a good bit of tannin, but also enough fruit to balance things out. I must say, this is an impressive showing from Seven Apart and winemaker Andy Erickson.” -By Antonio Galloni at Vinous, October 2022

Discover Soil: Digging Deep into Atlas Peak

While it might not be as romantic as century-old underground cellars or handmade barrels, soil is the unsung hero of the winemaking world. It is the foundation upon which the vine takes root and flourishes, imbuing the grapes with DNA-like qualities that define the terroir. As one of Napa Valley’s prized mountain appellations, Atlas Peak boasts world-class soil that is as diverse as it is magnificent. At Seven Apart, we are proud to cultivate our vines in this unparalleled terroir.

A Tale of Fire & Ash

The volcanic soil of Atlas Peak is a story written in the rich tapestry of the earth’s history. It is a tale of fire and ash, of molten rock and explosive geological forces that etched their mark upon the land and transformed it into the fertile ground it is today. This soil was formed over millions of years as volcanic eruptions left behind layer upon layer of ash, pumice, and volcanic rock. Over time, this material was weathered and decomposed, creating soil that is rich in minerals and well-drained – the perfect conditions for grape vines to thrive. ​​

Today, viticulturists and winemakers benefit from the many natural volcanic features on Atlas Peak. Firstly, there is a veritable cornucopia of soil types, including white volcanic ash soils, rusty red soils, and black gravelly basalt. Each of these soil types brings about a unique taste of minerality in the wines, from umami notes to saltiness. For example, ​​if you taste a savory quality in an Atlas Peak wine, it’s likely that the grapes were grown in vineyards with reddish soils.

Another natural advantage from the millennia of seismic shifts is particularly rocky soils. Rocky soils are not only rich in minerals and nutrients but also have excellent drainage that allows the vines to reach deep into the earth for sustenance. The result is grapes known to produce wines with increased aromatics, including floral aromas in red wines. The well-drained soil also prevents waterlogging, reducing the risk of disease and promoting healthy vine growth. The volcanic soils of Atlas Peak are truly a gift to winemakers, providing the ideal conditions for crafting some of the world’s most exceptional wines – particularly Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Perfect Match: Atlas Peak and Cabernet Sauvignon

Ask any viticulturist what the best soil is for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, and you’ll probably get this answer: “Cabernet Sauvignon works well on a variety of soils, but it does best in moderately rocky/gravelly soil with medium-high drainage.”

That makes Atlas Peak soils a textbook choice for growing Cabernet. Why are the two so perfectly paired? Cabernet Sauvignon has the potential to be a very vigorous vine. For this reason, it does benefit from controlled stress. In winemaking, stress on the vines can be achieved through various techniques, such as vineyard management practices, pruning, or in the case of Atlas Peak – natural conditions. Thanks to the rocky terrain, the Cabernet vines need to produce deeper roots, which help to anchor the vines and improve their access to water and nutrients. This results in better vine balance, improved resistance to disease and pests, and better fruit quality. 

In addition, the structure of volcanic soil can help to regulate the temperature, which is important for the proper development of the grapes. The soil’s ability to retain heat during the day and release it at night can help to maintain a consistent temperature, which can promote healthy vine growth and improve the quality of the fruit.

As a result, the volcanic rock and ash of Atlas Peak provide excellent drainage and allow the grapes to ripen slowly and develop complex secondary and tertiary flavors that are sought-after by Cabernet connoisseurs worldwide.

Rocks The Size of Sedans

When Seven Apart founder Don Dady first arrived at Stags Ridge vineyard, he was greeted with a rather unusual site. “The rocks were the size of sedans!” he recalls. Towering boulders and rows of cobblestone-like alleyways adorned the vineyard – not exactly an easy location for viticulture. Yet, through tenacity and patience, the site had been planted since 1999 and reaped some of the most delicious fruit Don had tasted in Napa Valley. It was for exactly this reason that he chose Stags Ridge to become the home of Seven Apart wines. 

Today, Seven Apart’s collection of storied Cabernet Sauvignons is quickly amassing a cult-like following – a testament to the fact that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to Atlas Peak. The volcanic soil of Atlas Peak has become renowned for producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, with its unique combination of volcanic minerals, depth, and excellent drainage providing the ideal foundation for grapes of unparalleled depth and character. This volcanic soil is an integral part of the region’s rich winemaking history and a testament to the power of the earth to shape and define the flavors of our finest wines.

Introducing the Discover Seven Apart Series

Like everything else at our winery, our name was created with intent.
When our founder Don Dady first viewed the property, he applied the principle his college professor had instilled in him while he was completing his economics degree. He shares:

“At the end of the semester, we had to present possible investments to Professor Nye. For each, we had to find seven compelling things that set the investment apart. If we couldn’t, it didn’t meet his standard to buy.”  

The concept of finding seven advantages that set something apart became a guidepost for Dady throughout his career. “When I discovered the property that is our winery today, we found so much more than seven reasons. We knew it was the perfect location for a worthy investment,” he shares. 

And so Seven Apart was born.

Introducing Our  Discover Seven Apart Series

Due to the smoke taint from the 2020 Glass Fire (read this journal if you’d like to learn more), the quality of the Stags Ridge vineyard grapes was compromised. As a result, we did not harvest any fruit from the Stags Ridge Vineyard and could not produce our Seven Apart Shale, Seven Apart Basalt, and Seven Apart Summit 2020 vintages. That’s why this year, Seven Apart will see only one release: the 2021 Seven Apart Expedition. With 1500 cases available, this veritable phoenix of wine will be released in September this year. But worry not! 

As we wait for our 2021 Expedition to mature to perfection, we invite you to join us on a different kind of wine adventure. Over the next seven months, we will be doing a deep dive into each of the following significant seven ingredients that lead to our growing success: 

    Our vines are grown in dense, volcanic rock soils providing exceptional terroir that result in incredibly complex and elegant wines. But what is it that makes the unique soils of Atlas Peak so special for growing our flagship variety, Cabernet Sauvignon? 
    At 1,475 feet above the valley floor, the vineyard sits above the fog line and enjoys the morning sun. Why does altitude matter in winemaking? And how exactly does it influence the quality of the grapes we grow? 
    The vineyards face the Pritchard Gap, which captures a breeze directly off the San Francisco Bay every afternoon. Explore the area with us as we learn how this cooling effect produces higher-quality fruit.
    The vineyard is perfectly positioned to channel the afternoon breeze to help lower sugar and acidity to desired levels. The right balance of sugar and acidity helps us craft wine that will age beautifully over the years. We chat with our legendary Vineyard Manager Mike Wolf to understand the importance of vine positioning and how we have set up our Stags Ridge and Base Camp vineyards. 
    When our cellar was first designed, Don Dady emphasized creating a multi-functional space that would guarantee success. Today, the cellar team has complete control over every step of the winemaking process. From hand-harvesting in the vineyard to selecting barrels for aging, we speak to our winemaking team to understand the vision for the cellar and why it works. 
    From pneumatic presses to an optical sorting machine, our team has access to some of the world’s most impressive winemaking equipment. But how does this equipment help improve the quality of our wine? We chat with our Cellar Master to highlight some of their favorite machines and talk about how each of them helps us achieve the best possible results. 
    While the quality of grapes matters and the right setup is key, there would be no wine without a winemaker. We chat to our winemaking team to understand how they balance expressing the terroir while adding their artistic touch to each bottle.

Are you ready to embrace your inner wine geek? Along the way, you’ll learn not only about Seven Apart, but all about the micro-factors that can make a good wine great (including some useful anecdotes to impress your dinner party guests). Grab your hiking boots, and join us as we set out on a journey of discovery with Seven Apart!

Reflections of Harvest 2022

It was a record-fast harvest for Seven Apart. Blink, and you may have missed it!
Of course, our vineyard and cellar team didn’t, keeping an experienced eye on things. Starting on August 23rd, all the grapes were in the cellar by October 4th, with the red varieties taking only two weeks. The total yield was 45 tons, with 9.67 tons coming from Stags Ridge. As the team finally has a moment to catch their breath, here’s a recap of the many memorable moments that made harvest 2022 a fruitful experience.

At the Mercy of Mother Nature

Forget predictions or crystal balls. Each year, harvest offers something new, and winemakers need to play the cards they’re dealt. According to Seven Apart General Manager Yannick Girardo, Mother Nature served several challenges in the lead-up to this harvest. This included late frost at the end of April, followed by a heat wave and lashes of rain and hailstorms.

“There is no denying it. If this year wasn’t a sign of climate change, I don’t know what else could be. Did I mention the earth rattled twice in the area this year? Nothing major, 3.3 and 4.4 shakes, but we really experienced it all!” shares Yannick. 

Add to this the 700 acres of land opposite Seven Apart that burned down at the end of May, and there would be a definite cause for concern about this year’s vintage.

Doubling Down & Leveling Up 

Instead, the Seven Apart team doubled down their efforts, working together to mitigate the adverse conditions. For our Winemaker Andy Erickson (now leading his 5th harvest at Seven Apart), there is a constantly renewed sense of puzzle-solving and focus that brings him back year after year:

“In terms of weather, 2022 had it all. What really changed the course of action was the extreme heat we endured from September 4th – 9th. We had record temperatures ranging from 112°F to 118°F in the Valley. The vines were irrigated and monitored daily. This is why we harvested sooner and faster than expected, as the sugar levels peaked quickly.”  

This time around, Andy explains that Seven Apart saw a significant decline in yield due to the frost and ongoing Californian drought. The yield per acre was 1.17 tons. In comparison, in 2021, we harvested 3 tons per acre. In 2020, there was no harvest due to the smoke taint from the devastating Glass Fire. 

“While over the next few years we will be working with other growers to offset the Base Camp vineyard replant, our production for the 2022 harvest will stand at around 2,300 cases. If we look at the first five vintages of 2018 – 2022, our yearly production stands at about 2,500 cases,” explains Andy. 

What This Year Will Yield

With all our wine in, the smell of ​​crushed grapes fermenting fills the cellar air. Despite this year’s challenges, Seven Apart wine lovers have plenty to look forward to: 

“The quality of this year’s harvest is excellent and a true relief after the crisis of Covid and wildfires of 2020. We’re also very excited about the 2021 vintage that has been in barrel since last year. We will be working on doing the final blend in the new year for the Seven Apart Expedition,” says Yannick. 

Outside of the harvest, this year was full of activities and milestones for Seven Apart. 2022 marks the first year as a fully operational hospitality facility, with the team welcoming visitors to the tasting room since October 2021. Seven Apart is also farming organically and working towards a certification. The first harvest for the newly replanted 8 acres of the Base Camp vineyard is planned for 2025, with the ultimate goal being to offer 100% estate-grown wine. 

“I think that we’ll be entering another new and exciting phase by the time we have completed our long list of goals and wish lists. Watch this space as Seven Apart grows from strength to strength.”


As we all prepare to turn the page onto a fresh new year, Seven Apart wishes our wonderful community a peaceful festive season. May only exceptional wine fill your glasses and remarkable moments fill your days.

The Rise of Atlas Peak AVA

Atlas Peak wines are the pinnacle of Napa Valley winemaking. Quite literally. 

At 2,663ft above sea level, these vineyards are some of the highest in the region. 

The Atlas Peak appellation is located within the Soda Canyon and Foss Valley areas. The AVA is northeast of the town of Napa, east of Yountville, and above the foothills of the Stags Leap District. Vineyards were first planted on Atlas Peak in 1870, with the terrain growing steadily between 1880 and 1901. The first winery was established in the early 1980s, and the appellation was given official AVA status in 1992. Today, Atlas Peak is the proud home of Seven Apart. But what is it that makes this area so special?

A Solid Bedrock

The answer is simple: location, location, location. Millions of years ago, Mount Saint Helena erupted spewing lava and ash across what today is Napa Valley. Since then, much of the land has been cultivated, but certain hard-to-reach areas still remain covered in huge boulders of volcanic rock.

Volcanic rock is one of the rarest types of soil in the world, accounting for less than two percent of the soil cover in the United States. The basaltic red-colored soil is incredibly fertile because it is derived from volcanic lava and ash, both of which are filled with nutrients such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. This rich combination acts as a stimulant for growing plants – such as vines. Another factor that makes volcanic soil ideal for growing grapes is that it is porous with limited water retention, which permits the vine to cool down quickly on warm, sunny days. 

The volcanic soils and topography are also closer to the sun’s nurturing rays. The westward orientation of most vineyards on the Vaca Mountains extends the amount of direct sunlight on the grapes, which is key for ripening. The Atlas Peak appellation sits on a higher elevation than most of Napa’s wine region which enjoys the cleansing breezes off San Francisco Bay and limits the effects of the cool fog coming in from the Pacific Ocean. The area has a significant diurnal temperature variation upwards of 30 °F between daytime and night. This contributes to the balance of acidity in the grapes. Together, all these factors create a unique microclimate ​​for which Atlas Peak is celebrated.

Mountain High

Historically, the region grew many grape varieties, but today, Atlas Peak is best known for its expressive mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals. These varieties thrive in the cool climate conditions that produce wines known for their intense flavors and delicate, balanced tannins. These wines are also considerably different from those made on the valley floor. 

Ask any Atlas Peak grape grower, and they will attest to the difficulty in cultivating fruit within this highly elevated, rugged, and striking landscape. Mountain grown vineyards are far more difficult to farm and the growing season tends to be considerably longer. Higher elevations also have greater diurnal temperature swings and these features can create noticeable differences in the styles of wine they produce. It’s much more difficult to plant and establish the vines, and the vines tend to produce far lower yields. Mountain fruit shares the dark color and full body as Valley-floor wines, but tends to have a rustic edge with more structure. 

In fact, it was as recent as 1999 that one brave vintner decided to excavate the top of Atlas Peak, approximately 1,475ft above the valley floor. At that point, the volcanic rocks were the size of small cars! But determination paid off, and the land was finally cleared and planted with grapevines. The vineyard was named Stags Ridge, and in 2013, it produced the elusive unicorn that is the 100-point winning wine. In August 2018, founder Don Dady purchased the Stags Ridge vineyard, which today is home to Seven Apart’s prized Cabernet Sauvignon vines. 

Our winemaker Andy Erickson reflects on setting up the Stags Ridge vineyard for production in late 2019: 

“Wines grown in volcanic soils tend to be produced in small quantities as the land is difficult to plant and farm. Stags Ridge was no different. The soil was more like a cobblestone street, with giant rocks everywhere making trellising a near-impossible task! ” 

While excellence does not come easy, Andy and the Seven Apart team persevered. 

Discernibly Different

Today, the resulting Seven Apart wines grown in our Atlas Peak mountain vineyard are impressively bold with greater red fruit characteristics. Andy explains that the wine can take a bit more time to age before revealing true complexity and depth:

“Patience is always a virtue when it comes to wine. Atlas Peak truly produces some of the greatest fruit Napa has to offer,” he muses.

Seven Apart Cabernet Sauvignon grown in our Atlas Peak Stag’s Ridge vineyard is complex, balanced, and has big tannins that soften with time. Each parcel has so much variation that we craft three different expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon from the same vineyard, namely Seven Apart Shale, Seven Apart Basalt, and Seven Apart Summit.  

“There is so much to discover within this vineyard. Perched above the fog line, Atlas Peak provides perfect conditions for longer hang times and the gradual development of phenolic ripeness – the components that make these wines some of the most intense and balanced in Napa Valley. Those seeking savouriness, complexity, and structured tannins will appreciate the beauty found with wines made up on the mountains,” ends Andy.

As Atlas Peak AVA gains more and more recognition as an outstanding terroir, many are starting to understand the power behind these wines. It’s certainly a steep climb to the top: but the results are worth it. 

The Inner Workings of Our Wine Allocation

Wine is simply something special – and we are not just saying this as wine lovers. When it comes to the best wines, specifically those suitable for investment and production, supply can rarely be increased to meet the demand. Every seasoned wine-lover knows how hard it can be to get your hands on a coveted bottle of your favorite wine! Small-lot wineries in particular often only produce select quantities of their bottles due to limited fruit. While this certainly creates a scarcity factor, it can make for some fierce competition to secure a limited release. This is where wine allocations come in.

The World of Wine Allocations 

Unlike a wine club, which offers members a recurring shipment throughout the year, a wine allocation is the amount of wine a buyer is able to purchase from a winery’s current selection. Before being sold to the general public, allocation members are first invited to purchase a set number of bottles. The best, most exclusive wines are often available only on allocation.

Wine allocations have their roots in the French tradition of ‘En Primeur.’ With evidence of En Primeur-like wine-buying systems dating back thousands of years, En Primeur or ‘wine futures’ is a widely-established feature of France’s wine landscape. The chateaux that take part offer retail and private customers the opportunity to invest in a vintage before the wine is bottled, thus giving guaranteed access to limited vintages and a timely investment. 

Based on this concept, wine allocations are typically offered by fine wine producers to ensure that limited-availability wines are made accessible to the most loyal supporters. With Napa Valley home to one of the highest concentrations of cult wines in the world, it’s not surprising that the allocation model is particularly popular amongst boutique wineries. 

How Seven Apart’s Wine Allocation Works

At Seven Apart, our strict standards for only working with top-quality fruit means our wines are produced in limited quantities. As a result, we have adopted an allocation model to, quite literally, allocate bottles to our members. Our Estate Manager Yannick Girardo shares his insight into how exactly wine allocations works:

“Our starting point is to be as fair as possible. When we have really limited availability, we consider a few things: firstly, the customer’s past purchases – we prioritize customers who have supported us in previous vintages. We also consider how loyal customers are to Seven Apart, including visitations and engaging with our offers throughout the year. In doing so, we are able to build a more personalized relationship with the people who love our wine the most.”

Ultimately, we want to spread our high-demand wines as widely as we can. We absolutely recognize customers’ frustrations when it comes to allocations, but being part of the process is also part of the excitement of collecting and the allure of the wine world.

Keep in mind that being on our allocation list is not always a guarantee that all wine will be made available to you. While, of course, there is no obligation to keep purchasing, as our wines are produced in such small quantities, priority is afforded to members who are consistent throughout the years.

“Should you not want to acquire your allocation, that’s completely understandable. However, as someone else might really want access to our wine, by forgoing your allocation, you hand over your access to this wine to the next person in line. It’s a fair system when quantity is scarce. That’s why the best way to secure your allocation is to remain committed and acquire it upon each release,” adds Yannick. 

A Close-Knit Cabernet Community 

The ultimate goal of our Seven Apart allocation is to cultivate a close-knit community of wine lovers to the winemaking team and wine they trust. Wineries rely on the support of their members. In return, members retain premium access to exceptional wine that is not available in retail.

“It’s definitely a two-way street,” Yannick notes. “When people are committed to our wine, we want to make sure they have as much unfettered access as possible.”

The wines at Seven Apart are released seasonally and as they reach optimal maturation. Typically, Seven Apart Shale is released in February, Seven Apart Basalt in May, Seven Apart Expedition in September, and Seven Apart Summit in November. However, the upcoming release schedule for 2023 will be much quieter. 

Two years ago, on September 27, 2020, a wildfire broke out from an undetermined cause in Northern California and continued its path of devastation for 23 days. Titled the ‘Glass Fire’ due to its origin near Glass Mountain Road in Napa County, the wildfire fell in the middle of the harvest season. Here at Seven Apart, we were fortunate to have sustained no physical damage to our winery. However, our prized Stags Ridge Vineyard certainly felt the impact of smoke taint, rendering the fruit unusable to create our Seven Apart Shale, Seven Apart Basalt, and Seven Apart Summit 2020 vintage. You can read more about the impact of the wildfires on our harvest in this journal here

While these wines were available in seasonal cycles throughout previous years, their quantity is severely limited after the Glass Fires. We are hopeful that this will not be the case for long, with the 2022 harvest looking promising.

The good news is that one very special wine could be made in 2020, using exceptional fruit from our unharmed Base Camp vineyard: Seven Apart Expedition. This September, the 2020 Seven Apart Expedition is being released to our allocation members.

Traditionally, Seven Apart Expedition is a Cabernet Sauvignon blended from grapes harvested from both our Base Camp and Stags Ridge vineyards. As the fruit from Stags Ridge was rendered unusable, this means that only the fruit from Base Camp could be used – halving the quantity of wine produced. 

“We were only able to produce around 825 cases of the Seven Apart Expedition vintage. That’s 50% less than what we’ve done in previous years”, confirms Yannick. “This is to ensure that only the finest grapes are used while minimizing the impact on the land itself that has already seen so much turbulence.”

Our 2020 Seven Apart Expedition was released on the 20 September 2022. With the 2019 Seven Apart Expedition receiving 98+ points from the Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker, we have high hopes that the 2020 vintage will once again show Napa at its peak. 

Our New Seven Apart Expedition Label Revealed

Seven Apart is proud to reveal our new Seven Apart Expedition label, designed by the team at Offset Partners and here to take our wine to the next level.

If change is the only constant, then for the Seven Apart team, change is also an opportunity to improve constantly. In August 2019, Seven Apart acquired a neighboring property called Orange Grove with the view to extending the Base Camp vineyard. Here, the team set about planting young white wine vines. In anticipation of the first vintage from this vineyard, Seven Apart approached the team at Offset Partners for a new label design. 

Since Seven Apart’s inception, the team at Offset has been responsible for bringing each wine label to life. After evaluating the current range, it was a natural choice to use a white background label for the white wine. To avoid confusion, we decided to redesign the label for our flagship Seven Apart Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon which had been white in previous vintages. As specialists in brand design, Offset’s Lindsay Regan, VP of Brand Strategy, shares the thought process behind the new label for our Seven Apart Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon:

What is the motivation for updating the Seven Apart Expedition label? 

LR: It all began with the request to add a white wine to the portfolio and how a label for this new wine could potentially look. After conversations with the Seven Apart team and considering the collection as a whole, we quickly realized that there was an opportunity to also reevaluate the Seven Apart Expedition as the flagship wine from Seven Apart. With this in mind, we agreed that this was the perfect time to create a new iteration of the Seven Apart Expedition label to best reflect the wine’s gravitas within the portfolio.

How did you go about conceptualizing the new label?
LR: We already had a strong Seven Apart brand system in place that we could lean into, so we returned to these elements to ensure uniformity and balance among the entire collection. The logo for Seven Apart is bold, modern, and iconic – marrying a “7” and an “A” into a mountain peak as a reference to the prized vineyard perched seven miles from their winery home on the valley floor. Seven Apart Shale, Seven Apart Basalt, and Seven Apart Summit each have their own unique background textures centered around the soil type. We wanted to maintain the portfolio hierarchy all the while elevating the Seven Apart Expedition label. The new Seven Apart Expedition (and upcoming white wine) label both feature a topographic map texture.

Can you explain the new label’s look and feel? 

LR: The latest iteration took on a new color scheme to cement its status in the range – from a black logo on a white background to a gold logo on a black background. The label features the same Kurz gold foil used across the brand, and multiple hits of black with varnish treatments for different elements on the paper. 

How does your creative process work? 

LR: For this project, the key contributors were Emilio Domingo, our Senior Brand Designer, Courtney Paddock, our Production Designer and Coordinator, and myself. Of course, we worked very closely with the Seven Apart team. Don, the founder, always has a vision of what he wants and strives for impeccable execution. When we first discussed the new Seven Apart Expedition label, we spoke about what would and wouldn’t work and the value of leveraging the existing brand system. After that, we looked at different kinds of color cues and combinations to ensure the label would fit into the brand hierarchy. Don and Seven Apart’s amazing General Manager, Yannick, know the value of what has already been established and wanted to lean into this.

Are you happy with the final result? 

LR: Absolutely! This project was about finessing​​. I think the new Seven Apart Expedition label fits in effortlessly with the Seven Apart collection, and we’re confident that the outside of the bottle is as good as what’s inside it! 

What makes the 2020 Seven Apart Expedition extra special?
LR: The ‘Glass Fire’ of 2020 wreaked havoc across Northern California. While luckily Seven Apart’s vineyards were spared, smoke taint damaged the majority of grapes in the precious Stags Ridge vineyard.  For this reason, the Seven Apart team decided not to release any 2020 Vintage wines from the Stags Ridge Vineyard this year. This includes the Seven Apart Shale, Seven Apart Basalt, and Seven Apart Summit Cabernet Sauvignon. Traditionally, Seven Apart Expedition is a Cabernet Sauvignon blended from grapes harvested from both the Base Camp and Stags Ridge vineyards, but the 2020 vintage used only Base Camp fruit, halving the quantity produced to 825 cases of the Seven Apart Expedition vintage. A true phoenix from the ashes, the limited-release 2020 Seven Apart Expedition will undoubtedly be a vintage that will go down in Seven Apart’s history books. 

The latest 2020 Seven Apart Expedition vintage will be released this September to members of our allocation list.

Meet Mike Wolf, our New Vineyard Manager

Titled 2015 Napa Valley Grower of the Year, Seven Apart proudly welcomes Mike Wolf as our new Vineyard Manager.

Mike Wolf’s path to wine growing was not exactly straightforward. In fact, in his own words, he came to wine in quite a “convoluted, roundabout way”. Yet almost five decades later, Mike is one of Napa Valley’s most celebrated viticulturists. In 2015, he received the honorary title of ‘Napa Valley Grower’ of the Year by Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG). With a reputation for elevating great sites into iconic vineyards, we are thrilled to welcome Mike as our new Seven Apart Vineyard Manager. From studying in a liberal arts college in upstate New York to spending countless days pruning vines in the blazing sun, this is the story of Mike Wolf

From History to Horticulture

Mike grew up outside New York City and earned his B.A. in History from Alfred University in 1971. At that stage, wine growing was not exactly on his mind.

“One of my primary focuses in college was avoiding any classes related to math or science. It just was not what I was interested in at that point in my life,” he confesses. 

Instead, Mike wanted to go remote. Not the way we know it today, with a laptop in a coffee shop. Rather, he wanted to live off the land, far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. After graduating and saving for a year, Michael and two college friends made their way west, settling on 40 remote acres in Mendocino County. 

“40 acres for $12,500! It wouldn’t be possible today. At that time, there was nothing there. The biggest take-home lesson for me was that if you didn’t do it, it wasn’t going to happen,” says Mike.

Not too long after, he met a farmer named Adrian in the nearby town of Ukiah, who offered him a ranch job on his small 60-acre fruit farm. Over the next four years, Mike worked sporadically on Adrian’s farm, planting pears, prunes, and grapes. With time, Mike wanted to swap out his subsistence lifestyle for his next great adventure. When he decided to try his hand at ranching, Adrian helped him get his first official position as a laborer at Mendocino Vineyard Co. in Ukiah.

“It was sort of a ‘right place, right time’ situation. This was ​​​​Andy Beckstoffer’s first venture in Mendocino County, and Adrian recommended me to the General Manager. Despite my lack of education or expertise, he took a chance on me,” explains Mike.

Field Office

It was at Mendocino Vineyard Co. that Mike became serious about pursuing a career in viticulture: “The work just made immediate sense to me. As I couldn’t afford to go back to school, I made it my mission to learn everything I could learn. You don’t need to know everything. You just need to know how to find out.”

Mike recalls that one of the biggest challenges was learning how to prune. Luckily, his fellow team members were supportive and taught him how to do it:

“It was hard. You go to sleep at night, and your hands are numb from holding the secateurs all day. And then you wake up in the morning and do it all over again. Another key learning that has served me until today was understanding what the field workers were all about. And what it felt to be out in the sun for 10 hours in a row for six days a week,” he reflects. 

After spending three years at Mendocino Vineyard Co. in Ukiah, Michael was up for a new challenge. Again, his lack of a viticulture degree meant a job didn’t come easy. After several years of rejected applications, he finally got his lucky break. 

“One day I met another Andy. Andy was a General Manager of a big project in the eastern part of Napa County that was owned by a small gas and oil company. It was a huge project. The land itself was 4300 acres. Imagine 4300 acres in Napa County!” smiles Mike. According to Andy, their goal was to plant about 1000 acres under vine, of which only 300 acres had been planted. Unlike so many of his previous prospects, Mike stood out to Andy thanks to his experience. “It’s like we were made for each other,” laughs Mike. 

After a six-month probationary period to prove his skill set, Mike was officially signed on as a Vineyard Supervisor at Pope Valley Vineyards. During his twelve years there, he was charged with transforming wooded grazing land into productive vineyards and garnered extensive experience in all facets of vineyard development and management. Over a decade later and some 900 acres planted to vine, Mike received a call out of the blue from his old friend Mr. Beckstoffer. Beckstoffer was starting a new project and Mike was the man for the job. 

In the following three-year stint as Vineyard Manager for Beckstoffer Vineyards in Napa, Mike oversaw the planning and implementation of all viticultural operations on 700 acres of vineyard – including the replanting of To Kalon.

“Andy Beckstoffer and I knew it would never be a long-term job for me as there was a ceiling to it. But it was great work and I got to meet literally dozens of winemakers that I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise,” explains Mike. 

In January of 1997, Michael became President of the start-up vineyard management and business services company Emmolo Vineyard Management. “This was a great job but required managing about 125 acres. After years of working on much larger scale projects such as Pope Valley, I was ready for something more, so I launched Michael Wolf Vineyard Services in September of that same year.” 

Through his full-service vineyard management company, Mike farms approximately 700 acres of Napa Valley vineyards for quality-oriented clients, including large and small growers and several wineries – such as Seven Apart. 

Enter The Wolf 

In June 2021, Mike joined as Vineyard Manager for Seven Apart. One of his first key projects has been replanting the Base Camp vineyard. For Mike, this opportunity to start from scratch is what excited him most about working with us: “Both the vineyards and the winery are being redeveloped, so that’ll be neat to watch this come along and see it grow up.”

Seven Apart also meant Mike and our winemaker Andy Erickson could work together:

“Andy and I knew each other before and work very well together. While some winemakers tend to talk in vague terms, Andy is not like that. He’s got a good understanding of what goes on in the vineyard and a largely hands-off approach to how we get there. I think he’s developed enough confidence in us to know that the work will get done correctly and in a timely way,” shares Mike. 

At the moment, one of the biggest challenges that Mike has to mitigate is the ongoing threat of wildfires. Just this June, there was yet another fire along Atlas Peak: 

“My whole mindset has switched from focusing on slow late-ripening to encouraging the fruit to ripen earlier so we can avoid the higher fire risk that comes later in the season. The challenge is to do this without compromising quality. ​​Inevitably, Mother Nature is 100% in control. All of the things you do should cooperate with her rather than trying to outsmart her,” ends Mike. 

Today, Mike is on the board of trustees for the California Grower Foundation, a past president, vice president, and director of the Napa County Farm Bureau, and a member of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture and the Napa Valley Viticultural Technical Group. He also serves on the board of directors for the Napa Valley Farm Workers Foundation. With almost 50 years of viticulture to his name, Mike is one of the foremost wine growers in Napa Valley –  and he certainly doesn’t need a piece of paper to prove it.