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Does Napa Valley Have a Problem with Younger Wine Drinkers?

An iconic New World region, Napa Valley is home to over 400 wineries. It’s known for many varietals, but none are more famous than the classic Napa Cabernet. But as trends shift among younger drinkers, can Napa retain its stonghold on the wine industry? Particularly as increasingly more drinkers—many of them young—gravitate towards lower-alcohol, canned and biodynamic offerings?

In this episode, I raise these questions with two Napa Valley vintners from different ends of the winery spectrum. Peter Mondavi Jr. is a third-generation co-proprietor of Charles Krug Winery, which is recognized as Napa Valley’s oldest winery estate. Jeremy Carter is the winemaker and founding partner at Tarpon Cellars, a winery in Napa specializing in low-intervention winemaking and newer techniques.

Listen as Mondavi Jr. and Carter discuss changing trends, how each of these wineries are marketing to younger drinkers, the rising cost of wine in Napa and what the future might hold for this important region.

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Episode Transcript

Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.

Speakers: Peter Mondavi Jr., Jeremy Carter, Jacy Topps 

Jacy Topps  00:08 

Hello, and welcome to the Wine Enthusiast podcast. You’re serving of drinks culture, and the people who drive it. I’m Jacy Topps. This week we’re taking a look at Napa Valley,  

Jacy Topps  00:20 

An iconic New World region Napa Valley is home to over 400 wineries. The region is known for many varieties, but none more famous than the classic Napa Cabernet. But as trends shift with the younger drinkers, can Napa remain a stronghold in the industry, particularly among wine lovers who are gravitating towards lower abvs, canned wines, biodynamics and different varieties? I first talked to Peter Mondavi Jr. from Charles Krug, and then chatted with Jeremy Carter from Tarpon Cellars.  

Jacy Topps  00:56 

Peter Mondavi Jr. is a third-generation co-property of Charles Krug Winery, recognized as Napa Valley’s oldest winery estate. And Jeremy is the winemaker and founding partner at Tarpon Cellars winery in Napa, specializing in low intervention, winemaking, and newer techniques.  

Jacy Topps  01:15 

So listen on as we discuss changing trends, how each of these wineries are marketing to younger drinkers, the rising cost of wine in Napa and the future of the iconic region.  

Jacy Topps  01:31 

Every glass of wine tells a story. These stories reveal hidden histories, flavors and passions, and sometimes they unravel our darkest desires. In Wine Enthusiast, newest podcast Vinfamous Journalist Ashley Smith dissects the underbelly of the wine world. We hear from the people who know what it means when the products of love and care become the source of greed, our sin, and even murder. Each episode takes listeners into the mysterious and historic world of winemaking and the crimes that have since become Vinfamous. This podcast pairs well with wine lovers, history nerds and crime junkies alike. So grab a glass of your favorite wine and follow the podcast to join us as we delve into the twists and turns behind the all time most shocking wine crimes. Follow Vinfamous on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen and be sure to follow the show, so you never miss a scandal. New episodes drop every other Wednesday.  

Jacy Topps  02:42 

Hello, I’m Jacy Topps and today we’re discussing Napa Valley. Particularly if and how Napa Valley wineries are embracing younger consumers. My first guest is Peter Mondavi Jr. Peter, together with his brother Marc is a third generation co proprietor of Charles Krug winery in Napa Valley. Welcome, Peter. I’m so glad you can join us today. 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  03:07 

Thank you for the invitation. Jacy I look forward to our conversation here. 

Jacy Topps  03:12 

So Charles Krug, for our listeners who don’t know, is recognized as Napa Valley’s oldest winery est, correct? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  03:21 

Yes, that is correct. Going back to 1861 when Charles crew founded the winery and built it up. 

Jacy Topps  03:29 

So can you give us a little brief history of that trajectory? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  03:33 

Sure. So Charles Krug was a Prussian immigrant, nothing new with wine business in his home country, but came over in the mid 1800s and was a bit of an entrepreneur and trying a lot of different things. He was the editor for the German Language newspaper in San Francisco. He worked at the US Mint as an essayer. And then he got hooked up with Augustine Harsy the who also worked at the US Mint. And they embarked on some winemaking endeavors as experiments.  

Peter Mondavi Jr.  04:09 

That’s how we got introduced to winemaking and then married Carolina Bale in 1860. And her parents were very prominent in Northern California and the newlyweds received a dowry of about 600 acres of land in the heart of Napa Valley. And the next year is when Charles Krug founded his winery on that on that land here. Then my grandparents who immigrated from Italy as well purchased the winery in 1943. So it’s been in my family ever since. And we’re into 80 years of family ownership now. 

Jacy Topps  04:45 

Wow, that is amazing. That’s a very long-established winery. 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  04:51 

Yes. With regards to family ownership, continual family ownership were one of the most enduring and families here in Napa Valley 

Jacy Topps  05:03 

So who are your consumers? Who are your customers? Like, are they younger? Are the older wine aficionados? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  05:11 

They tend to be? Well, you know, given that we’ve been around so long, they tend to be the wine aficionados, you know, you could skew towards the baby boomers. This has been our traditional historic consumer base; we are working on engaging in the younger consumers. That has really been a strong push of the next generation, let’s call them the G-Four. My wife. And I have two kids, in the G-Four and Mark and Janice have four daughters in the G-four active in various ways in the wine business here. But really leaning on them to engage the younger group, whether it’s, you know, through virtual tastings of Facebook or Instagram Live, things like that. And we’re also engaging with very high touch experiences here in Napa Valley at the estate. So kind of trying to open up to a broader spectrum, least from an age standpoint of consumers, but really all of these consumers are avid Wine Enthusiast, at one level or another. 

Jacy Topps  06:27 

Well, I’m really glad that you brought the younger generation up because you know, the market is shifting, and that demand is shifting. And it looks like at least from our end that younger consumers are really interested in biodynamic wines, and low intervention wines and orange wines and canned wines. How do long standing classic Napa Valley producers like yourself, continue to fit in in that changing shift? Or are you even trying to fit it? Maybe you don’t even try to fit it? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  07:02 

Yeah, well, first of all, we have to really understand that the wine market is not one monolithic consumer. There’s a diverse subset within the general wine consumer groups out there. And that’s, that’s one statement. And the other one is that here in Napa Valley, it’s a relatively small wine producing area in California. In fact, we only produce about 4% of the California wines. So we are Napa Valley and our family here at Charles Krug are a little more focused on our consumers. But with that said, we are working in the sustainable arena of winemaking, both in our vineyards, and in the winery. Were Napa green in our Napa Green certified in our Napa Valley Vineyards which we have a wonderful series of vineyards up and down Napa Valley. And we’re in the certification process at the winery for Napa Green program from the production side. So we are fitting in into this and we are bringing in the next generation particularly Angelina, Mark and Genesis oldest daughter. She’s the formally trained winemaker in the g4 of our family.  

Peter Mondavi Jr.  08:38 

So she’s working closely with Stacey, our winemaker of over 10 years here at Charles Krug to kind of bring in you know, more of that youthful perspective. But the other thing we’re doing is I think I mentioned earlier, is the younger consumers are looking for authenticity. We have loads of that with our, you know, four generations of family engaged with the winery and then our estate holdings here in Napa Valley. So we’re really engaged in that. And you know, we continue to refine our winemaking style, while still sticking with the classic Bordeaux varietals principally Cabernet Sauvignon is our main mainstay, which is pretty much the mainstay throughout Napa Valley. 

Jacy Topps  09:31 

I liked what you said like you are thinking forward, but you definitely want to stick with the classics. 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  09:37 

Yeah, sticking with the classics. They’ve endured the test of time so to speak, you know, Bordeaux varietals make beautiful wines, not to diminish the myriad of other varietals out there. But you know, there are other growing regions in California, in the United States and around the world that can do it. sectional jobs on some of these other varietals? 

Jacy Topps  10:03 

Well, I’m interested in, you know, in a market where younger people are drinking can spritzers and RTDs. How do you convince younger generations that classic wines like the Napa cabernet, the Napa Chardonnay, still matter? How will younger generations see that? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  10:24 

I think a couple of things. One, fundamentally, education and exposure to Napa Valley wines is important, I think, you know, the canned wines and some of these other wines will bring the new the younger consumer into the wine segment. And those that really get engaged with it and want to pursue that interest further, I think will lead them to the Napa Valley wines. And let’s be realistic, you know, over time as hopefully their income increases, they can afford some of the Napa Valley wines here. And with that said, you know, we actually are embarking not under Charles Krug, but we have some other associations where we have Western Wilder, which is a premium canned wine that we’re working with. It’s and it’s the varietals are sourced from the west coast. So California, Oregon, Washington. So we are engaging in a different way with the with these younger consumers, because they have so many options out there for adult beverage, you know, whether it’s our RTDss and canned wines and hard seltzers, and ciders, you know, the list goes on and on and on. So we’re trying to engage in different ways as well with the newer wanting consumers out there. 

Jacy Topps  11:56 

I’m glad you mentioned price. You know, there’s lots of articles all around and studies about the expense of Napa Valley. And the expense of the line. Is that going to change? I mean, do you think it’s inflation? Or is it climate change? Or is it just kind of what the market is wielding right now? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  12:20 

I think it’s a bit of the market. And I think it’s a bit of Napa Valley. I’m not sure if I mentioned this earlier. Obviously, I mentioned it’s a very small producing area within California, and world. But also, it is really a relatively fixed entity. And what I mean by that is the number of acres of vineyards planted here in Napa Valley will remain relatively constant. It’s somewhere around 45 or 50,000 acres today of planted vineyards throughout Napa Valley. If we have this conversation in 10 years from now, I would be shocked. If the acreage gets up to 55,000. It’s pretty much tapped out. So, trying to grow Napa Valley production in any meaningful way is really not going to happen. So there’s a constrained supply there. And, you know, if you go over to our counterparts in Bordeaux, especially in some of the first growth, those prices get pretty astronomical. well beyond many of the Napa Valley Cabernet is being produced today. So yes, it is priced in the upper regions of wine pricing, but there are other areas and throw in Burgundy for that matter as well. Yeah, we have some pretty significant prices above us. 

Jacy Topps  13:57 

Yeah, yeah. I agree with that. So as someone who has been in the region and helped establish the wine region, how do you think the wine world views Napa Valley? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  14:09 

I think the wine world, especially the subset of consumers that that enjoy this caliber of wines. Think of it as Napa Valley is extremely high quality. But I also think it goes just beyond the wines themselves. I think it’s an experience that reflects a lifestyle here in Napa Valley. And really, people visiting Napa Valley immerse themselves in the experiences not only at the Wiener at the wineries here because the experiences are becoming much more enhanced much more extensive, but also the arts and culture and the food scene, the food scene in Napa Valley is phenomenal with some of these great restaurants that we have up and down the valley, some of the world’s best restaurants here, we’re blessed that we’re so close to the source for so many great ingredients at these restaurants, but also some of the cultural events that are occurring here, around especially around music, like, you know, we’re engaged with festival, Napa Valley, here at the winery coming up this summer. So it goes beyond just the wines and into cultural experiences. So it’s very enriched, enriched here. 

Jacy Topps  15:41 

Are those experiences and the wines. Are they welcoming to the younger generation? Do you think? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  15:51 

I do think they’re, they’re welcoming to the younger generation. And there clearly are some that are tailored more towards the more fluent and generally, with more age, you know, as an example, from the cultural side of things, you know, there’s bottle rock, which is quite, quite a draw in Napa. And I think quite a few of the younger generation attend that, you know, it’s again, it’s not inexpensive to come up here. But it is a very rich, fulfilling experience. When one does indulge and come up here. 

Jacy Topps  16:34 

What do you think the future holds for Napa? If you look into your crystal ball? And how does Charles Krug fit into that? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  16:44 

Oh, it’s hard to predict the future. But I think there are the future of Napa Valley looks great. You know, I was born a long time ago. I’ve seen Napa Valley grow from a very rural agriculture agriculturally diverse community where grapes were not the main agricultural product here. Now it’s 99% grapes for the agricultural side, extensive restaurants when we were little kids, fine dining did not exist all entertaining. We did, we’re at the homes of the owners of the various few wineries here. So now it’s a very rich experience, culturally, food, wine. We do have the AG Preserve in place, it just got voted back in or extended, which preserves the unincorporated agricultural or unincorporated land for agricultural use. So that’ll keep that intact as opposed to being overly developed. And, you know, we have we’re largely based on the Bordeaux varietals Cabernet been kind of King out there and has a long jet and longevity that rattle over hundreds of years throughout the world, primarily France. So I think that is bodes very well for us. Now, let me just throw you in a curveball here. Okay. But, you know, we have we have climate change, you know, that that will impact us 10 years from now 20 years from now, I think minimal impact, I think something we, you know, we can adapt to but 50 years from now or beyond, that will be a challenge that I can’t even go out and venture a guess as to what’s going to happen at that point. But I think today, we’re seeing, you know, just really, as we see around the world, more very, very ability of extreme events. And, you know, we can manage through these, you know, 50 years from now if if the climate is just gets universally and notably warmer here, then that’ll be for the next generation to adapt to unless we can curtail that temperature rise. 

Jacy Topps  19:15 

Yeah, I agree. So as far as far as the sustainable programs, how are you addressing climate change? Are you farming organically or lower intervention? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  19:29 

Well, we’re definitely will definitely lower intervention. I mentioned the Napa Green program. So very conscientious on any applications, conscientious on water use. We try to use organic applications as much as possible. We and when I say we it’s not only here at Charles Krug with our family, but you know, throughout Napa Valley, the technology is really advanced a lot. So you In the old days, you would just look at the calendar and say it’s time to put on our sulfur, you know, application or whatever it would be. Today we inspect the vineyards, we look at them, we walk through them, we look at the weather reports, you know, the humidity, what’s the mildew pressure out there?  

Peter Mondavi Jr.  20:20 

We don’t look and we look at by a vineyard or region sub appellation by sub appellation within Napa Valley. So, you know, at Carneros being closer to the bay, and more fog may require a little more application, then St. Alena, which tends to be warmer, not as humid in the morning, things like that. So, we’re very site specific and site sensitive as to any applications and anything we’re doing in the vineyards. Whereas, you know, decades ago, it was just looking at a calendar and universal applications up and down the whole valley. So, I think the inputs have dramatically dropped in recent years because of this practice. And as the input a water is bad, because you clearly do we do not want to over water, we just want to have just enough to keep him. I wouldn’t say happy, but you know, just on the verge. 

Jacy Topps  21:26 

I mean, that’s great to hear. I’m really excited about all the new things that you guys are implementing because I love I love your wines. I was in Sonoma Napa. Like during the pandemic, it was right after I got vaccinated. It was like, soon as I was like fully vaxed. I took a trip to wine country. And Charles Krug.  I spent most of my time in Sonoma. But Charles Krug was the only winery that we visited and Napa. So I love the winery. I love the wines. I love your take that you have about classic wines. 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  22:01 

We all thank you. Thank you for the compliments there. But yeah. you know. The classic wines just to kind of expand on that, you know, we have our family ties roots go back to Italy. And I think our winemaking style reflects a little bit of the Old-World style and since the wines are made to be enjoyed with family and friends around the dinner table around food, so the wines are crafted to complement the food as opposed to be the center of show for the the gathering. 

Jacy Topps  22:41 

So, Peter, I just have one more question for you. When you are not drinking a Napa Cab, what’s in your glass? What are you drinking these days? 

Peter Mondavi Jr.  22:52 

I love some of the the aromatic whites out there. I’ve seen Sauvignon Blanc being the prime one. And that’s a very important up and coming bridle here in Napa Valley. But the lighter, crisper, more aromatic varietals I really enjoy. And so that’s especially now well, not today. But as we get into the summer and the warmer months, I really enjoy those wines. 

Jacy Topps  23:23 

Oh yeah, I love Saugvinon Blan as well. Peter, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you. 

23:30 

Jacy, Thank you very much. 

Jacy Topps  23:37 

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Jacy Topps  24:31 

We’re back and still discussing Napa Valley. My next guest is Jeremy Carter. Jeremy is the winemaker and founding partner of Tarpan cellars in Napa Valley. Welcome Jeremy. I’m so happy you can join us today. 

Jeremy Carter  24:46 

Yes, Jacy. Thank you so much for having me on. Excited to be here. 

Jacy Topps  24:49 

So I hear you’re a Georgia native. What part of Georgia are you from? 

Jeremy Carter  24:54 

I am Yes, I grew up just north of Atlanta. Cobb County Kennesaw area. 

Jacy Topps  24:59 

Okay. I asked ecause I grew up in Atlanta and my partner was born and raised in Atlanta. 

Jeremy Carter  25:05 

Very cool. Not a lot of Georgia winemakers, but there are a few. 

Jacy Topps  25:09 

Yes, they are. I think it’s I’ve been to a few actually, it’s, I think they have a really good start. 

Jeremy Carter  25:16 

I think so too. Yeah.  

Jacy Topps  25:18 

Tell us a little bit about your wine journey. Why did you want to make wine and start a winery? 

Jeremy Carter  25:25 

Well, that’s a great question. And I’m jealous of, you know, some of these, these kids that I meet at UC Davis who are like 18, 19 and already know that they want to get into winemaking. I was definitely not one of those kids. I grew up, as I mentioned outside of Atlanta, and went to school undergrad at Florida State University in Tallahassee, you know, really came from a nontraditional wine drinking family, you know, we were not one of those families that had, you know, wine at the dinner table growing up. So I really just kind of got into it through food more than anything else, I think, kind of towards the end of my college career, you know, had a couple of really just outstanding meals and in Tallahassee and New York and I was really drawn to it and and that got me into wine. And I really kind of wanted to go into more of the hospitality side, I envisioned myself opening a wine bar or doing something along those lines. So I applied for all these different internships. And I got super lucky that I have my aunt and uncle have a small family winery in Napa called Liam Harrison.  

Jeremy Carter  26:21 

And they said, you know, why don’t you come out for an internship and learn what you can and see how it goes. And so this was 2007. I packed up everything and drove from Atlanta to Rutherford, California. You know, I really envisioned being a tasting room internship and kind of focusing more on the hospitality side, as I mentioned, and when I got there, they were kind of like, you know, this is a harvest internship. So, you’ll be working in the cellar and in the vineyard and scrubbing tanks and cleaning barrels. And I think like a lot of people that, you know, that do a harvest internship, they really had no idea how hard the work was. But you know, I really loved it from the first day. So, I thought, you know, this could be a really cool career. And I’ve never really thought about winemaking as a career until my first day on the job. And so I kind of fell in love with it and went to UC Davis did the distance learning program for Viticulture and Enology over there and did that while I was working at other wineries, so I was at LUNA for a few years and duck corn for a little bit chapeau A and 10 years later, 2017 we started tarping sellers. 

Jacy Topps  27:27 

Okay, that’s a that’s a great trajectory. I did a harvest in Bordeaux. And when I say I did a harvest, I’ve harvested like one hour. That’s all. It is. It’s hard work. Okay, so why did you decide to stay in Napa and open a winery in Napa? Out of all places? 

Jeremy Carter  27:53 

I think for one, you know, starting a new winery or wine brand. You know, I do think that Napa still has that. That cachet of you know, even people that are not into wine. When you say Napa Valley. It’s like, okay, well, this is the, you know, this is the real deal. And even today, you know, I still think that holds true. But the main reason is that, you know, Napa Valley is where I lived for, you know, at the time, 10 years, you know, now almost 15, 16. And it really feels like home in a lot of ways. I spend a lot of time on the East Coast now doing sales and events and marketing and stuff. But yeah, I lived in St. Helena for almost 10 years. And so I really wanted to make wine in a place where, you know, I was very familiar with, with the growers may remember the people it was just kind of, it felt very much like home to me. 

Jacy Topps  28:41 

Okay, so tell us a little bit about tarpan sellers. I know that you guys, you said you’ve been open since 2017? 

Jeremy Carter  28:48 

That’s correct. That was our first vintage Yep. 

Jacy Topps  28:50 

And what kind of wines do you produce? 

Jermey Carter 28:53 

So, we do a little bit of everything, you know, we do make a classic kind of, I call it a 1990 style of Napa cabernet, that’s, you know, a little bit more not layered. But you know, I would say more in balance with oak and, and sugar and tan and stuff like that. A little bit more strange is probably the word that I was looking for. But then we’ve really found success in making these, you know, single vineyard, but high acid, low alcohol, minimal intervention wines with you know, some unique varietals. We do a white blend that’s kind of Verdejo based. We do a skin contact Chenin Blanc, a chilled red that’s a carbonic, a blend of Nebbiolo and Primitivo and a couple other grapes. And we really just seen a lot of traction with that, especially at you know, some lower price points. And so that’s really become kind of the bulk of our business, in terms of you know, what we’re able to distribute and, and even online, we’re seeing a lot of that as well. 

Jacy Topps  29:49 

That sounds great. I actually had some of your wine and it’s fantastic. 

Jeremy Carter  29:54 

Thank you. Thank you so much. 

Jacy Topps  29:56 

So what’s the what are your customers like? Like, are they younger? Are they a little bit older? Do you know the demographics? 

Jeremy Carter  30:05 

I do. And you know, it’s mainly based on online ordering, and, you know, Instagram followers and things like that, but I’m in the market a ton. And so I do feel like I have a pretty good grasp on it. I mean, it’s the nice thing about our portfolio, I guess you could call it at this point is that we do have a lot of different lines for a lot of different situations, which I think is an advantage for us. You know, we have $150, retail in a single vineyard, Napa Cabernet, that distribution wise tends to skew more steakhouses. And so you know, we do get an older demographic typically with, you know, at that price point.  

Jeremy Carter  30:39 

But our Camboro series is those, those four wines that I was explaining earlier, that are kind of that low ABV, high acid, food friendly style. You know, those really skew young in terms of, you know, the broad wind consumer audience, you know, we see people, certainly in their early 30s, and even in their 20s, that are really gravitating towards that style of wine. And then also I think just our brand, we really, you know, reached out to a younger generation, and tried to build community around that, but you know, it skews pretty evenly between male and female. And, you know, I would say like, I would say, like, 28 to 34 is kind of our bread and butter, because I think they’re to a point where they have disposable income to purchase some higher price point lines, but you know, our, like our white blend is, is $22 retail. So, we definitely have have had success with a younger audience, which I think is kind of rare in Napa. 

Jacy Topps  31:33 

Yeah, I mean, I agree, I feel like a lot of the consumer trends are shifting and, and consumers are really reaching for natural wines, biodynamic wines, canned wines. But I also like, I under like, I know, like Napa Valley is, is old school. I think, in my opinion.  

Jeremy Carter  31:55 

I would agree with that.  

Jacy Topps  31:56 

And do you feel that like you are alienating some of the other Napa Valley customers and consumers? Or, like, how do you view that point? 

Jeremy Carter  32:06 

I don’t think so. I mean, I think we certainly, you know, have a even though it’s a small percentage of our production. I mean, we have some people that think of Tarpon Cellars, as you know, super high end Napa Valley Cabernet, even though that’s not, you know, the bulk of our production. But I think the biggest thing that has maybe alienated some, you know, old school, if you want to call it that consumers is that some of the some of the wines that were coming out there were maybe not as clean or fruit driven, as you know, typical map or even California wine in general. And one thing that I will say that we have done a great job of is all the wines that we make, even though they’re natural, or minimal intervention, or whatever term you want to use for it, they’re all very clean.  

Jeremy Carter  32:52 

And so some of that is just from our pH, I mean, we’re very lucky that you know, we have super low pH is sometimes when we pick, you know, this fruit is at 3.1 3.2 PH, and you really just don’t get any microbial pressure at a pH that low you know, you can I always joke that you could like, take a vial of pretending ICs and dump it into our wine. And if it’s the point to pH, you know, it’s probably just gonna die on contact, and it’s just not a hospitable environment. So, I think making, you know, clean wines that are refreshing and crisp and dry. I don’t think we’ve alienated anybody; I think we’re maybe just kind of reaching out to a newer audience and, and maybe even bringing in people to the fold. I mean, I see this a lot that are maybe craft cocktail fans, or maybe their craft beer fans and kind of had written off wine, because they had a couple, you know, wines, that they didn’t enjoy that much. And so I think that we’re kind of reaching an audience, or even making our own audience, there’s a quote from I think it’s Diana Vreeland, and I’ll probably screw it up. But it’s something to the effect of, you know, don’t give people what they want, but give them what they didn’t know that they wanted. And, and I love that, and I don’t think you and I don’t know if that’s something that I would recommend as a business model. But it’s, it’s worked for us in some ways. And, you know, that’s exciting to me is, I mean, a great example for us is we make a Provence style rosebay from mainly Tiffany a few other grapes. But I mean, it is bone bone dry and 0.0 grams of sugar, and very high acid and I mean, almost every single wine dinner that we do, or tasting or whatever event it might be, you know, people somebody will say, you know, I don’t really like rose I’ve never I’ve never found one that I liked. And it’s typically because you know, it’s too sweet. Or you know, maybe it’s a saign and it has, you know, a little bit too much tannin on it or something but, you know, when they try ours like wow, I didn’t know that rose could taste like this and be so crisp. And so I do feel like we’re kind of taking people that you know, that maybe weren’t huge wine blind people currently, and kind of converting them which we love. 

Jacy Topps  34:59 

I really like that perspective. I mean, as I said earlier, and the trends are shifting and you know, like people are drinking, and carbonated canned drinks and you know, and that’s great. Do you think that a Napa cabernet or Napa Chardonnay is even relevant to newer drinkers? 

Jeremy Carter  35:20 

I do. I think there’s always a time and a place for almost any style of wine. You know, I will admit that, that I don’t drink a ton of Chardonnay. And I have some friends that make some incredible Chardonnays but, you know, there are times when I eat out, and I’m at a restaurant and you know, I’m like, you know, it’d be really good with us as a, as a Chardonnay. And, and so I order it and I typically really enjoy it with that food. And that setting. What I’ve found for me personally, and we’ve kind of carried this over into our business model is, you know, there are not a lot of times when I sit around and drink $150 Cabernet and we make one so I’m not, I’m not criticizing it at all, but just for me, you know, if it’s, especially in the south in California, I say the South because a lot of our distribution is down there, but you know, if it’s 95 degrees in Napa, you know, I don’t come home in my, my boots from the vineyard. And I’m like, let me you know, break out this huge Cabernet and sit on the porch and drink a room temperature redline. And so, you know, I just feel like situationally, you know, I was reaching for a lot of those, you know, really crisp whites and roses and, and skin contacts. And so I’ve kind of brought that into Turpin, cellars and But absolutely, I mean, do I drink, you know, a really nice Napa single vineyard Cabernet when I’m at a steakhouse, or I’m skewing pescatarian these days, so I actually don’t go to Steak House as often as, as I used to, but, but there are absolutely times in places where, you know, I really enjoy Cabernet. So I don’t think it’s ever going to be a relevant and you know, I think when you look at, you know, complexity, and you know, the ability to age and all those things, you know, I almost view it as like a tuxedo. It’s like, it’s never gonna go out of style. But I also don’t wear a tuxedo every day, or to dinner on a Tuesday. 

Jacy Topps  37:06 

Yeah, I really do like that analogy I like, you know, over time as I gotten into wine more and more, and my palate appreciates all the Napa cabs, and the Napa style wine. So, I agree with that. I just think it’s, it’s, you know, as markets shift, and wineries are really trying to bring in newer generations of consumers. I just, I wonder is Napa stuck in this weird, Purgatory of not changing? But then I see, you know, I hear about wineries like yours. And I think it’s, you know, I think that’s great in Napa.  

Jeremy Carter  37:47 

Well, thank you. And, you know, I think my concern with Napa is more so the diversity of grapes, you know, when we first started, you know, my background is, is in Napa, and a little bit of Sonoma. And I was in New Zealand for a little bit, but I mean, my, the bulk of my winemaking background is is Napa, Cabernet. And so we wanted to make one. But we also wanted to make some fun styles of wines with Napa fruit that was maybe not, you know, in the Bordeaux style of grape. And I found that, you know, even six years ago, it was very difficult to find, like Verdejo, for example, or Chenin Blanc, and there are certainly, you know, growers that are still doing that. And in private, you know, privately owned wineries, I worked at Chaple, and I mean, one of my favorite lines at chaple was the Chenin Blanc. Molly has been named up there and Prichard Hill, but unfortunately, it’s just really, really difficult to find that and when you do find it, you know, the grapes are, are really expensive. So you can’t, you can’t bring somebody a you know, $20 bottle of wine from Napa fruit anymore. It’s just not economically possible. That’s just part of the, you know, the free market of Napa. It’s the same reason that an apartment in Austin is you know, four times as much as it was 10 years ago, as well as you can ask these great farmers to sell called Verdejo for $2,400 a ton, when they can sell Cabernet for you know, $12,000 a ton. So I get the economics of it. But I do think that, you know, for a region like Napa there, there are other voices to be heard besides, you know, just Cabernet and Bordeaux blends and to answer your question, and I don’t even know if this was the question, but I don’t know that that’s going to change or evolve in less. You know, you see a demand for expensive Napa cabernet go down because that’s all it is right now supply and demand. And there’s more demand for really expensive Napa Cab and there. There is supply for it. So that’s kind of where we are. 

Jacy Topps  39:46 

That’s a really interesting point. I mean, because there are lots of articles and surveys and reports coming out that Napa is just gotten so expensive. And the wine has gotten expensive. I mean, just traveling to Napa has gotten Very expensive. So is that all it is? Do you think it’s just kind of like an inflation, it’s just the market. 

Jeremy Carter  40:07 

I do, you know, you can’t, like I was saying you can’t really tell a grower to, you know, plant different grapes for the sake of having different grapes when, you know, he could make, you know, in some cases literally 10 times more money per acre by selling you know, Cabernet grapes. And so, I don’t know if I mentioned this, this earlier, but you know, there’s blends that we are, you know, between 22 and $20 a bottle, you know, we’re sourcing that fruit. It’s all single vineyard wines, but we’re sourcing that fruit from Clarksburg. We work with the hands your family out there. And so even though we’re making it in Napa, you know, it’s just not economically feasible to make that style of wine with Napa fruit. So it’s just it’s kind of where we are. 

Jacy Topps  40:49 

Do you have a tasting room and Napa? 

Jeremy Carter  40:51 

We do have a shared tasting room in Napa where we make the wine at Salinas vintners in the Oak Knoll area. And then we have a gentleman that just started for us in Napa. Jamie that’s going to be doing private tastings as well. 

Jacy Topps  41:06 

Okay, great. So what does the future hold for Napa? And basically, where does Tarpan Celler fits into that? What do you think the future holds? In your crystal ball? 

Jeremy Carter  41:18 

Right. You know, I think we’re gonna find out relatively soon. I mean, I think that, you know, these are the customers that are buying tons of 150 to 200 plus Napa Cabernet. They’re getting older. And so, you know, is, is Napa, going to be able to reach out to these younger consumers and have them, you know, see value in, you know, drinking and perhaps collecting, you know, those wines?  

Jeremy Carter  41:50 

And I don’t know the answer to that, you know, it would seem that there are, you know, so many other things, asking for attention for those people that are in their 20s, you know, you can go to a really nice cocktail bar and get a really nice cocktail for, you know, even $16 $18, which sounds on the expensive side, but you know, that you’re getting a really unique, handcrafted experience by doing that, are they going to also reach for a $2, bottle of cab? I don’t know. So I think we’ll find out, you know, as these older generations of traditional wine drinkers start to, you know, aged out of, you know, when they’re having tons of disposable income. And I do, I do hope that there is still a place for these wines in Napa that are being made. But I also wonder if you know, at some point, we’re gonna have to do something to reach out to these, you know, millennials and younger to really draw them back in. And I think some of that is winemaking style, I also think some of it is is, you know, branding and presentation. I mean, we do a lot of stuff. In the nonprofit space, we do a lot of live music events. You know, we’re at a lot of festivals, tons and tons of wine dinners. And, you know, I just don’t know that there has many people doing that, to be able to reach this younger audience, and I want them to because, you know, we need that audience as an industry. So I guess that’s not really a good answer to your question other than other than I don’t know. But in terms of tarpan, sellers, I hope that people look at us and see that there’s a way to do things a little bit differently.  

In Napa, you know, we’re a small family-owned winery, and we don’t have a, you know, a huge winery that people can come visit, we don’t have a, you know, $3 billion tasting room. And I think that there is hopefully room for people like us as well. But I think that we can, you know, mitigate some of that, some of that by, you know, being on the road and doing things in different markets where we sell wine, and even through social media, I mean, we’ve really, really grown a lot, just from Instagram, and you kind of with any business at this point, and especially when you’re talking about younger generations, you have to meet people where they are. And, you know, I don’t know that 28 year old’s are going to map as often as they used to, but they’re definitely on Instagram, and they’re definitely on Tik Tok. And some of the things that aren’t even I haven’t even wrapped my brain around yet. But I think meeting people where they are is a big part of that. 

Jacy Topps  44:14 

I think that’s a great answer. I think that Napa Valley, along with other very established wine regions need diversity, you need wine diversity, you know, everything. You know, I think everything can’t be the same. Otherwise, it’s boring, right. I think Napa Valley needs, you know, the very well-established wineries that have been around for decades and decades, and then the ones that are doing some new techniques and low intervention. And I think that’s, I think that’s what Napa Valley needs. 

Jeremy Carter  44:52 

No, I think so. And I think just having something for everybody. I mean, there are there will certainly always be people that that want, you know, high end Cabernet. And, but I think that, you know, for us to thrive and, and flourish for, you know, 50 years or 100 years from now, you know, we need to be able to reach people reach out to people that that like different styles and different kinds of one. 

Jacy Topps  45:12 

Okay, I have one last question for you, Jeremy. Yes. When you’re not drinking something from Napa, what’s in your glass? What are you drinking these days? 

Jeremy Carter  45:22 

Oh, my gosh, that is? I love that question. It depends. Because I do, I will admit that I get wind out many times, and especially, you know, when we do some of these dinners, you know, like if we have a cocktail afterwards or have a drink afterwards, I’m not drinking more of not only my wine, but any anybody’s wine. And so I’ve really been into Mezcal cocktails lately. I used to like Scotch a lot. And even the PD stuff, which maybe makes the sound basic, I don’t know, but I really enjoy how Mezcal takes the, you know, some of that smokiness. But then you can also make a really refreshing acid driven cocktail. And I kind of had thought, for some reason, that I didn’t like Mezcal that much. And then I was in Mexico a couple years ago. And, you know, we have been eating a lot of seafood each day and these acid driven dishes and I tried some, some Mezcal cocktails with it, and was kind of just blown away. So, you know, I love a Mezcal cocktail now, almost, I would say 12 months a year, but I will say that, you know, there’s nothing better at the end of a long day than old fashioned as well. A really good old fashion. 

Jacy Topps  46:32 

Oh, yeah. I love an Old-Fashioned. Jeremy Carter, thank you so much for being here. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you. 

Jeremy Carter  46:40 

Thank you, Jacy I really enjoyed it. And yeah, just appreciate you guys having me on. 

Jacy Topps  46:48 

My guest today represents two ends of the winemaking spectrum. But both are producing fantastic wine in Napa Valley. Yes, younger people are drinking differently today. But is a trend just that a trend? Maybe the answer isn’t for all wineries to change their winemaking style to adjust to shifting trends. Maybe the answer is diversity. As long as there are different wineries with various winemaking styles and varieties catering to a diverse group of wine drinkers. I believe Napa Valley will never go out of style.  

Jacy Topps  47:24 

What are your thoughts? If you liked today’s episode, we’d love to read your reviews and hear what you think. And hey, why not tell your wine loving friends to check us out to remember, you can subscribe to this podcast on Apple, Google, Spotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. You can also go to wine enthusiast.com backslash podcast for more episodes and transcripts. I’m Jacy Topps. Thanks for listening.