History of Caldwell Vineyard
Some people get into the wine business because of unbridled passion for the industry and love for the produce. This wasn’t necessarily the case for John Caldwell.
The story behind Caldwell Vineyard is more about happy chance and serendipity than it is about meticulous planning. Oh, and there’s also a little bit of smuggling thrown in for good measure. One thing is for sure - the Caldwell Vineyard story is not your average winery tale.
John Caldwell was a young man when he made his fortune selling ladies shoes in California. As his first experience in entrepreneurship showed, he had a knack for identifying an exciting opportunity and making the most of it. So, he quickly realized that the Napa region of California was on the cusp of greatness.
His original idea was to buy land to subdivide and sell, and he soon purchased about 50 acres in Coombsville. Alas, his plans to sell them as five separate plots was rejected by the planning authorities, and he turned his mind to another plan - making wine! Afterall, he liked wine, so why not?
Of course, starting a winery is not usually something that is done on a whim, especially when the land Caldwell had purchased was not thought to be much good for growing due to the rocky terrain. Initially, due to the terrain, Chardonnay was selected as the most appropriate grape.
A few years after he purchased the estate, Caldwell visited France and got the idea to clone French varieties. But to do so, he’d need to get the grapes to California - which was no easy task.
A plan was hatched and then executed - what Caldwell lacked in smuggling experience he made up for with quick-thinking and charisma. Via a comedy of errors and some good luck, Caldwell ended up with enough French vines to begin his winery.
Despite its intriguing beginnings, Caldwell Vineyard grew to be one of the most respected producers in the Napa Valley, although their own label didn’t start producing until the 1990s. John Caldwell never lost the twinkle in his eye, and there’s a certain playfulness and mischief associated with the estate.
It’s no average history - but it’s a great one.