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Joe Wagner’s Copper Cane: The Vision Takes Hold

January 8, 2018

Bolstered by the 2015 sale of Meiomi to Constellation Brands for $315 million, Joe Wagner is now shaping the next phase of an already impressive wine career. Over the past two years, he has assembled a broad portfolio of wines at his young company, Copper Cane Wines & Provisions.

Copper Cane now has seven wine brands, including Oregon Pinot Noir label Elouan, California Pinot Noirs Belle Glos and Böen, Napa Cabernet-led Quilt, Napa Valley field blend Carne Humana, Zinfandel label Beran and sparkling wine Steorra. With Elouan, Belle Glos and Böen as the priority brands, total production hit around 200,000 cases in 2017, and the goal is to reach 1 million cases by 2021.

The Copper Cane portfolio currently is produced at a leased facility in Napa Valley, but the future production center will be at Mare Island in Vallejo. That facility should be up and running by 2021 and will be accessible by ferry from San Francisco and Oakland, a factor which should help draw visitors.

Wagner’s vision also extends beyond the business of winemaking and into a larger goal of creating a new cultural platform for luxury wine drinkers. Plans include a new boutique winery that’s currently breaking ground in Napa Valley between St. Helena and Calistoga. It will be small, with annual capacity at just 50,000 gallons, sitting on a 600-acre property that includes cabins and hiking trails. “It’s beautiful,” says Wagner. “We’ve already started bringing people up there, mostly from the trade. We can take them on hikes and showcase native Napa Valley, then bring them down to the winery.”

Wagner is also adding spirits to Copper Cane’s repertoire. About four years ago, he began making ciders from Sonoma apples, and then began working with Modesto, California-based Do Good Distillery, where he made his first apple brandies. “We’re not business partners with Do Good, but we share the infrastructure of the distillery and expertise of the team,” says Wagner. “We’re doing a lot of experiments, but we have specific plans for spirits. The lineup will include apple brandies, grape brandies, Bourbon, rye, single malts and a gin.”

Meanwhile, Wagner is moving ahead with a unique project—a bar, tasting room and restaurant in downtown Napa on the site of the former Fagiani’s bar, which should be open by next summer. “This will be another way for us to communicate with a younger generation that wants to get out and learn more,” says Wagner. “It also will be a venue to showcase our wines and spirits locally.”

Market Watch has an in-depth look at what’s next for Wagner and Copper Cane on its website—David Fleming

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