The Art of Growing Wine Tony Soter of Etude Wines believes great wines are grown and not made. Here, a look at how this winery masters the craft of winegrowing.
Aptly named "etude" after the classical music term for a focused study or technical exercise to perfect technique, Etude Wines is dedicated to mastering the craft of winegrowing. The winery was founded 25 years ago by Tony Soter who firmly believes that great wines are grown and not made. In fact, Tony prefers to list his occupation as winegrower instead of winemaker. He shares this philosophy with his colleagues, Winemaker Jon Priest, Assistant Winemaker Rob Fischer, and Viticulturalist Franci Ashton.
"Etude was founded on the philosophy that winemaking begins in the vineyard long before the harvest, and that superior grape growing diminishes the need for intervention by the winemaker, resulting in wine that is grown, not made," Jon says. "This remains our approach today as we continue to build the Etude legacy."
Etude's estate vineyards are located in the far northwest corner of the Carneros Appellation. Unlike much of Carneros, which is, for the most part, composed of riverbed and bay bottom clay soils, Etude's vineyard soils possess several variations of well-drained, rocky upland soil of volcanic origin. The vineyards are planted to conform to the various soil types and changing contours of topography. The Etude team is dedicated to sustainable farming practices and maintaining perfect harmony with their surrounding environment. In fact, Etude's environmentally friendly land practices have earned the winery certification in California's Fish Friendly Farming program. The winery is also a Napa Green Certified Winery, affirming its commitment to conserving water and energy, controlling prevention, and reducing solid waste.
Visitors to the tasting room are delighted with samples of the winery's renowned Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, along with other varietals. Those who make arrangements in advance can enjoy a seated Reserve tasting, featuring five top tier wines; or a wine and food pairing, where six Etude wines are paired with three savory bites.
As with music, dedicated practice and a passion for perfection has its rewards: in the masterful wines of Etude.
WHAT TO BUY
'07 Heirloom Pinot Noir: Raspberry, violet, black tea, spice, generous fruit $90
'06 Oakville Cabernet: Sauvignon Blackberry, dried sage, cola, ripe dark fruits, hints of Chinese five spice, mocha $100
Tasting Room Open Daily 10–4:30
1250 Cuttings Wharf Rd
Napa, CA 94559
Private tasting by appointment, picnic grounds, sustainable farming practices, corporate events, wine club discounts