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Napa’s Innovation Generation Makes Its Mark in the Valley

The Napa Valley may have established a reputation for its iconic bottlings, but the region is also home to an array of creative-minded winemakers who seek to upend norms, ask new questions and connect with wine lovers who look for something different. Here, get to know some of the innovators you’ll want to keep your eye on in the year to come.

Patrick Rue, Erosion Wine Co., St. Helena 

After earning acclaim for experimental beers at The Bruery, Rue decided to take on wine. He launched Erosion earlier this year, where he serves a selection of nonvintage, nonvarietal, one-off wines on tap, all from Napa Valley. Wines are also put in cans, crowlers and kegs, some with cherries and vanilla beans added. Erosion’s best-seller is Sparkler Machine, a carbonated white blend. Afraid of Clowns, a Cabernet Sauvignon-driven red blend, is another popular selection.

Carboniste winery
Photo courtesy of Carboniste

Jacqueline and Dan Person, Carboniste, Napa 

Hoping to spark conversation—and joy—around California sparkling wine, this Napa-based winemaking couple makes bubbly Albariño, fizzy rosé and a pétillant naturel Pinot Grigio. Modern, radiant and topped by a bottle cap, all retail below $50. Never ones to rest, the Persons have also begun experimenting with force carbonation and the idea of mixing vastly different varieties like Albariño and Merlot.

House of Saka bottles
House of Saka / Photo courtesy of House of Saka

Cynthia Salarizadeh and Tracey Mason, House of Saka, Napa Valley 

Founded in 2018, House of Saka’s range of alcohol-free wines, or “vinfusions,” kicked off a year later with Saka Pink, a cannabis-infused rosé-like beverage made from single-vineyard Napa Valley Pinot Noir. Salarizadeh and Mason recently added Saka White, a vinfusion made from Napa Valley-grown Chardonnay. For each, alcohol is removed from a base wine before it’s blended with a proprietary formula of tasteless, odorless, water-soluble THC and CBD from California craft cannabis.

Alesandre Remy and Kelli Cybulski of Atlas Wine Co.
Alexandre Remy and Kelli Cybulski of Atlas Wine Co. / Photo courtesy of Atlas Wine Co.

Alexandre Remy, Atlas Wine Co. Lab, Napa

A food scientist by training and winemaker by trade, Remy has long been known for affordable, sustainable and gulpable wines. Last year, he launched a low-calorie, low-alcohol, “light” wine. It was the first product to come out of his newest endeavor, Atlas Wine Co. Lab, a research and development beverage incubator run with the help of Kelli Cybulski, assistant winemaker. Current projects include a light sparkling rosé and a hard kombucha.