The Wagners produced their first Cabernet Sauvignon – “Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon” -- from the 1972 vintage. Their first Special Selection, from outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon lots given extended barrel aging, was made from the 1975 vintage.
The Wagners’ 60 acres of estate vineyard remain at the core of Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, but Chuck Wagner believes that much is gained in complexity and layering of flavors by not restricting fruit sources to a single site. As a result, Caymus has taken over farming control of selected other vineyards within the Napa Valley, some on the valley floor and some in mountain locations as high as 1,600 feet in elevation. Each vineyard block is farmed according to the specific needs of its soil type, climate, slope and orientation. The Wagners also have long-term relationships with several Napa Valley growers whose location and viticultural practices produce grapes of the quality Caymus requires.
"Every growing season involves chance, but setting aside certain grapes from among our lots to make the year’s Special Selection is very much a matter of choice. With luck, planting decisions are met by a cooperative climate to produce the superb grapes that go into all our wines. From there, we identify which vineyard blocks were particularly favored with grapes eligible for the Special Selection designation." - Chuck Wagner
The goal in Caymus Vineyard is a balanced wine that tastes delicious when bottled but can improve with age. Chuck Wagner attributes the quality of the wines to farming and winemaking techniques developed over the decades. These techniques are open to change if improvements can be made, even if doing so requires replanting a vineyard.
The Caymus Special Selection was an iconic wine in Napa during the 1980s, as it reflected the classic expression of the Napa Valley Cabernets. Thanks to the Wagner’s great contacts with the growers of the region, they have been able to get the best fruit in their highly respected wines. Over the last decade the hype surrounding the Caymus wines has subsided. However, the quality is still high and their Special Selection is a great wine that definitely benefits from at least 15 years of ageing.
The Wagners have farmed the vines in various places in Napa, from the valley floor to hillsides of mountains reaching 1600 feet. Therefore, the wines have gained complexity from the various terroirs of the Napa Valley. The winemaking philosophy is based on getting the best fruit from selected vineyards in Napa and by blending them they have been able to make wines with great character and complexity Besides their own holdings, the Wagners also control the vineyards from which they purchase grapes.
The Wagner family has a rich winegrowing history in Napa, after starting out in 1906. The Special Selection has been made every year since 1975 except in 1977, 1993 and 1996. The wine was made until 1984 by Randy Dunn, who has always credited the Caymus vineyards for their great fruit. Since then, the Wagners have been in sole charge of winemaking.