Seven Apart Retrospective: Six Years of Vintages and Vineyards

Six years ago, in 2018, seasoned businessman Don Dady discovered an exceptional mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard at one of the highest elevations of Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak – Stags Ridge vineyard. Upon learning that the winery owning the vineyard was up for sale, Don recognized this as the precise opportunity he had been seeking. “From the moment I found Stags Ridge vineyard, I saw an opportunity to grow something special out there,” he recalls. 

At that time, Atlas Peak was already a distinguished and unique region. However, it maintained a certain level of discreet allure, contrasting with the more widely known valley floor wineries. The area was defined by its small vintners and wine creators, committed to producing exceptional wines from high-altitude vines nurtured in volcanic soil. It was during this exciting era that Seven Apart was established. As we enter our sixth year of winegrowing, join us as we reflect on the journey from humble beginnings to the bountiful fruits that we reap today:

August 2018: Acquiring Stags Ridge and Base Camp Vineyards
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As the perennial winemaking adage goes, great wine starts in the vineyard. Founder Don Dady was acutely aware of this, having searched for the right property for some time to realize his dream project. When he found the property that is now Seven Apart, he discovered that the land was home to not just one, but two vineyards in one of Napa’s most coveted appellations, Atlas Peak. Perched along the spine of the Vaca Mountain Range was Stags Ridge vineyard. Named after the thousands of male deer roaming the neighboring land, Stags Ridge had a well-established reputation, with nearly all wines produced there earning mid to high ninety-point ratings from Robert Parker. This includes a 2013 vintage that garnered the elusive 100-point score. The vineyard’s enviable terroir boasts four key advantages: its peak location at 1,475 feet elevation positions the vines above the fog line, basking them in morning sun and cooling them with a mid-afternoon maritime breeze from the San Francisco Bay. The sought-after soil, containing intense and nutrient-rich basaltic red volcanic soils, is also key.

Together, these conditions are ideal for creating world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. Much lower on the valley floor, at an elevation of 55 to 75 feet, Base Camp vineyard offers a striking contrast to its sister vineyard, Stags Ridge. Situated in the prestigious Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Base Camp blends sand, silt, clay, and gravel soils. Together, the two vineyards are the secret sauce to Seven Apart’s viticultural prowess, enabling our winemaking team to pick and choose grapes as needed to achieve the highest potential for our wines.

August 2019: Acquiring Orange Grove Vineyard
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Exactly one year later, the Seven Apart team experienced good fortune once again. Vineyards seldom come up for sale in the prestigious Napa Valley, so it was both a delight and a surprise when the neighboring Orange Grove property became available in August 2019. This verdant, 5-acre plot was largely undeveloped, brimming with potential — especially for growing vines. Acquired in August, the vineyard is conveniently located a stone’s throw from the Base Camp vineyard on the Silverado Trail. “Rather than buying grapes, we aim to cultivate all our fruit to oversee every aspect of the process. With Stags Ridge, Base Camp, and now Orange Grove, our holdings encompass about 16 acres of vines. Our goal is to cultivate all the Bordeaux varieties across our three sites,” explains Managing Partner Yannick Girardo. 

However, the beginning was not without challenges: Orange Grove had a drainage issue. The Seven Apart team installed an extensive drainage system to address this, capturing and redirecting water into the river. The system required contractors to traverse the property, laying a mainline with lateral lines leading to a large, natural well. A pump was installed to extract the water and connect it to irrigation tanks for future use. While costly, this investment allows us to sustain ourselves using recycled rainwater. Five years on, Orange Grove has undergone a remarkable transformation. Now, lush green and healthy vines cover the property, boasting one acre each of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Seven Apart is nearing its goal of using 100% estate-grown fruit at this stage.

February 2020: First On-Site Vintage Produced
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In February 2020, Seven Apart celebrated a significant milestone with the completion of Phase I of its development, marking the readiness of its new wine production facility. “We built a state-of-the-art winery,” recalls Don. This milestone enabled the team to produce its first vintage on-site, a pivotal moment in the winery’s history. The new winery is equipped with advanced technologies like automated pump-over tanks and optical sorters, providing unparalleled flexibility and control over the winemaking process. These technological advancements, along with the building’s energy efficiency through solar power and water management systems, underscore Seven Apart’s commitment to crafting exceptional wines while adhering to sustainable practices. The cellar layout, including a barrel room, laboratory, mezzanine, and spacious tank/fermentation room, complements its high-tech features, creating an ideal environment for producing top-quality wines.

September 2020: The Impact of the Glass Fire
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In 2020, disaster struck in multiple forms. At 3:48 AM on September 27, a wildfire, later known as the ‘Glass Fire,’ ignited from an undetermined cause in Northern California. It ravaged the landscape for 23 days. Originating near Glass Mountain Road in Napa County, this wildfire coincided with the harvest season — a period already marred by drought, heatwaves, a devastating global pandemic, and the effects of smoke from nearby wildfires. The Glass Fire inflicted considerable damage in nearly all directions. Fortunately, Seven Apart’s winery escaped physical harm, but the smoke taint rendered our prized Stags Ridge grapes unusable. As a result, we chose not to release any 2020 vintage wines from Stags Ridge vineyard, including our Seven Apart Shale, Seven Apart Basalt, and Seven Apart Summit Cabernet Sauvignon. The only 2020 vintage we released was Seven Apart Expedition, in a reduced quantity, since it traditionally blends grapes from both Base Camp and Stags Ridge vineyards.

Why consider this a milestone? The Glass Fire solidified Seven Apart’s dedication to excellence and prompted a refinement of our viticultural techniques. Upholding our standard of producing world-class wines meant that the smoke-affected grapes did not meet our stringent quality criteria. Choosing quality over quantity, we released only 825 cases of the Seven Apart Expedition vintage. We also evolved our harvesting techniques to better align with nature’s unpredictability:

“My whole mindset has shifted towards encouraging earlier fruit ripening, aiming to circumvent the higher fire risk later in the season, while maintaining our quality standards. Ultimately, Mother Nature holds the reins. Our actions should complement her forces rather than attempt to outmaneuver her,” shares Mike Wolf, Vineyard Manager at Seven Apart.

October 2021: The Seven Apart Hospitality Facility Officially Opens
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The Seven Apart hospitality facility officially opened on October 1, 2021. Under the guidance of founder Don Dady and the creative expertise of award-winning interior designers Damon and Julie Savoia of Shawback Design, the facility stands as a masterpiece of design. It blends elements of luxury with the natural beauty of Napa Valley. Julie notes that every surface offers a texture, and all these materials communicate with each other to provide a layered experience – much like Seven Apart’s wine. “Our goal was to extract Don’s vision and make it a reality. After several meetings, we regularly visited the site for inspiration. In our studio, we compiled material and color palettes, presenting them to the team until we all agreed,” she explains.

Architect James Jeffery, landscape architect Eric Blasen, and Wright Contracting played pivotal roles in bringing this vision to life. The facility is a testament to Seven Apart’s commitment to excellence. It features a design that intertwines materials like red velvet and brass, reflecting the connection between the cellar and its connoisseurs. Exclusively available to active members of the allocation list, the space offers a unique experience with meticulously designed interiors, including a Cypress-wood ceiling and hand-blown chandeliers. “The design might be subtle, but its impact is unparalleled. The result is a space that tells the Seven Apart story tactilely and elevates the wine to another level,” concludes Damon.

May 2023: Morgan Maureze Takes the Helm as New Winemaker
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Five years into our journey to reach the pinnacle of Napa Valley winemaking, a change of hands occurred in our cellar. In May 2023, Andy Erickson passed the baton to his long-time protégé and friend, Morgan Maureze. Born and raised in France in a family of winemakers, Morgan brings a rich heritage and extensive experience to Seven Apart. He obtained his degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis and further honed his skills at the University of Bordeaux and renowned wineries like Petrus and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Morgan then joined Andy Erickson’s team for fifteen years, refining his craft at some of Napa’s most esteemed properties, including Screaming Eagle and Dalla Valle. His journey led him to leadership roles at Marciano Estate and Immix Wines before reuniting with Andy at Seven Apart in the spring of last year.

Morgan’s winemaking approach is defined by a commitment to continuity and precision. For the 2023 vintage, he works closely with Andy, meticulously reviewing past strategies and identifying opportunities for refinement. His vision includes an intensified focus on micro-picking and a deeper engagement with the unique terroir of Stags Ridge, recognizing its extraordinary potential. Morgan’s tenure at Seven Apart is marked by an unwavering dedication to building upon Andy’s legacy, ensuring a seamless transition in style and a continued pursuit of winemaking excellence. “I understand that people often think a change in winemakers means a change in style. That won’t be the case here,” he reflects.


In the ever-changing world of wine, six years is just the beginning, but it also represents the most challenging and critical time to establish oneself. To do or die. Without a doubt, we wouldn’t be here without you – our Cabernet Sauvignon champions. Join us as we raise our glasses to the future and the vintages that await. Here’s to what the year ahead and the next six years hold!