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Napa Valley’s Schrader Cellars sold to Constellation Brands

Constellation Brands, Inc., the third-largest U.S. wine producer, continues to extend its portfolio of high-end wines with the purchase of Napa Valley’s Schrader Cellars, known for cabernet sauvignon. 

The agreement between Victor, N.Y.-based Constellation  and Calistoga-based Schrader  includes vineyard sourcing, current inventories and eight Schrader cab labels. Other terms of the deal, announced June 16, weren’t disclosed. 

“Fred and Schrader will remain close to the business, sharing their knowledge, passion and insights,” the winery said on its website. “You will continue to see Fred at select events throughout the year, pouring and tasting, and Carol will continue to foster customer relationships, ensuring the Schrader story is shared and celebrated.”

“The journey for Schrader Cellars and Constellation Brands is just beginning,” said Schrader winemaker Thomas Brown in the announcement. He will continue to lead all aspects of the winemaking from vineyard to bottle. “With Constellation’s expertise and high-quality vineyards, the potential for these wines is endless.”

 

The Schrader brand joins Constellation’s new fine-wine organization, TRU Estates and Vineyards.

Schrader’s cabs are sourced from premier Napa Valley vineyards, including the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard in the Oakville winegrowing region of central Napa Valley. The brand is said to be the highest-rated American cabernet sauvignon portfolio, with 19 100-point (perfect) ratings from Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator and JamesSuckling.com.

“Knowing Constellation’s reputation for valuing quality, integrity and customer focus as much as we do, there was no question in my mind that they are the perfect steward of Schrader wines moving forward,” Fred Schrader said in a statement. “We are impressed by their talented, dedicated team and passionate winemakers. I look forward to working with Constellation to take great care of the wines I’ve dedicated a significant part of my life cultivating.”

The deal is said to have come together by way of Carol Schrader and Bill Newlands, Constellation chief operating officer and a business associate over the years.

“The Schraders have created something truly unique and unparalleled in wine,” said Sam Glaetzer, Constellation senior vice president of wine and spirits production.

Schrader Cellars was started in 1998, during the big expansion in high-end Napa Valley cab production. Schrader CCS and Schrader Old Sparky, both sourced from Beckstoffer To Kalon, were awarded 100 points from Robert Parker of Wine Advocate for three consecutive vintages and are the only wines in the history of the Wine Spectator blind-tasting program to achieve perfect 100-point scores upon release, according to the winery. 

Other cab labels are Schrader Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, Schrader GIII Beckstoffer Georges III, Schrader LPV Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard, Schrader RBS Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, Schrader T6 Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard and Schrader Colesworthy Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard . 

 

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History

As with all great things in life, timing is everything. It may be hard to imagine that all that has been achieved at Schrader Cellars can be attributed to a well-timed vacation, but friends, it’s true!

 

In 1988, Fred Schrader was a thriving dealer in the world of art and antiques when his good friend and Christie's auctioneer, Brian Cole, invited him to the Napa Valley Wine Auction, a newly formed charity event. A lover of wine and adventure, Fred happily accepted the invitation and soon found himself enjoying delicious wines while spending time with some of the valley’s most notable founders.

 

Amazingly, this weekend getaway evolved into a 25-year love affair with the Napa Valley as well as launched his career in the wine industry.

 

From the get-go, Fred knew that he wanted to make world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. He also knew that to achieve this goal, he would have to begin with the best grapes and the finest winemaking talent.

 

In 2000, Fred tasted a barrel sample of Cabernet that changed the course of his life. The wine, showing tremendous richness and power with stunning fruit character and exceptional balance, was exactly what he had envisioned for his namesake wine.

 

On a quest to produce wine with similar depth and uniqueness, Fred discovered the source of these extraordinary grapes to be the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville. Fred knew he had found the source for great Cabernet, and with singular focus and unquenchable determination he set out to secure grapes from this remarkable estate.

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Vineyards

Drawing from his fine art background and the knowledge that pedigree sustains throughout the process, Fred knew that to create the finest wines he had to begin with the finest grapes. As true today as it was when Fred started Schrader Cellars, our benchmark wines are made from grapes grown exclusively on Napa Valley’s most prestigious and historic vineyard estates.

 

Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, Oakville — Originally planted by pioneer Hamilton Crabb in 1868, To Kalon – meaning 'highest beauty' in Greek – is a noble first growth estate in Oakville that has established itself as the preeminent source of Napa Valley’s finest grapes. The vineyard is defined by its high mineral content and exceptional drainage, offering optimal north-south sun exposure by day with cool coastal breezes at night that we feel is the ideal environment for growing our Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard, Rutherford — Located in the legendary Rutherford Bench on the eastern side of the Napa Valley, the Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard boasts a remarkable history that dates back to its founding by winemaking pioneer and namesake Georges de Latour in 1928.

 

The grapes for our Schrader GIII Cabernet are grown in a small, specific section of this vineyard, formerly a natural riverbed, and it is here that the wine finds its compelling character and structure. The unique gravel and rock soil composition combined with the gentle sloping contour of this block ideally stresses the vines and produces stunning fruit with phenomenal concentration. We truly feel that we have found the magical 'sweet spot' of this historic vineyard estate.

 

Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard, St. Helena — The Las Piedras Vineyard, a name that translates to 'little stones' in Spanish, is an exceptional rolling estate in the St. Helena district of the Napa Valley. This breathtaking estate boasts a viticultural lineage of more than 150 years, dating back to the 1840s when it was planted by early settler Edward Bale.

 

The most northern of our vineyard sources, the region receives the warmest daytime temperatures, yet still receives the benefits of the cool marine influences in the late afternoon and evenings.

 

This exceptional vineyard is defined by its unique terroir, where the vines contour the gentle slopes and live in a soil of rocky, gravelly loam perfectly suited to growing Cabernet Sauvignon. The resulting fruit is remarkably dense and concentrated, producing massive wines with lush black and blue fruit character, elegant minerality, as well as magnificent structure.

 

 

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Winemaking

At the winery, we employ the most naturalistic winemaking practices possible often letting the wines proverbially 'make themselves.' We truly believe our low impact, non-interventionist practices produce the most pure, naturally beautiful wines and allow us to bring forward the very best the vintage had to offer.

 

With all of the attention given to the vines and grapes in the vineyard, the process intensifies at the winery. The Cabernet clusters are removed from the bins and carefully laid out and screened for optimal structure and ripeness, a painstaking hands-on process that often results in berry-by-berry selection.

 

To begin the winemaking process, the grapes are gently removed from their stems and placed in a stainless steel tank to 'cold soak' where the naturally clear grape juice can pick up both color and character from the grape skins. This process is essential for making lush, densely hued wines and can take up to a week to complete.

 

Following the cold soak, the temperature of the deep, dark juice and skin mixture is elevated, which activates the natural field yeast present on the grape skins and fermentation begins. The yeast feeds on the sugar in the grape juice to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide gas that is allowed to escape from the top of the tank.

 

Once fermentation is complete, the wine is separated from the skins and transferred into small French oak barrels for aging.

 

 

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Highlights

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Napa Valley’s Schrader Cellars sold to Constellation Brands Constellation Brands, Inc., the  more ...

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 Georg Linde, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Schrader Cellars . In a tasting of  35 wines 

“Tasted some of the greatest Napa wines.”

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