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Wagner Sees Strong Growth For Caymus 2012 Vintage, Continued Success In Pinot Noir

August 12, 2014

Fueled by the release of its Caymus 40th Anniversary 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet and the ongoing success of Pinot Noir label Meiomi, Wagner Family of Wine owner and winemaker Chuck Wagner says the family’s overall sales have achieved unprecedented levels this year.

The flagship Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon marked its 40th anniversary with the 2012 vintage. That milestone, along with rave reviews for the 2012 vintage overall, has provided much of the spark. “The 2012 vintage is, of course, a great one. It’s dark, supple and rich, and it may well represent a new high-water mark,” says Wagner. “It was also a very prolific vintage. We finished our harvest, then filled our empty fermenters with late-site Cabernet, and it paid off. We fermented and aged a lot of wine, and we’re releasing nearly twice as much Caymus Cabernet than ever before.”

The result has been major run-up in demand. “In calendar 2013, we sold around 65,000 cases of Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet,” says Wagner. “This year, we released the 2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary wine on May 1 and shipped 60,000 cases in the first month.”

With a specially designed label, the 40th Anniversary bottling’s appeal as a collectible has helped propel sales, but the performance has exceeded even those elevated expectations. “We were hoping to see a two-for-one mentality—if you usually bought one bottle of Caymus Napa Valley, you might buy a second bottle this year because of the quality and the anniversary,” says Wagner. “But sales appear to be going far beyond that.”

Elsewhere at Wagner Family of Wine, Wagner’s oldest son, Charlie, produces two wines from the family’s Mer Soleil vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County: the Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay and unoaked Mer Soleil Silver. Wagner’s second son, Joe, produces Pinot Noir as owner/winemaker of Belle Glos, the company’s series of single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. Joe also began producing Pinot Noir label Meiomi in 2007, when grape supply became abundant during the 2008-2009 recession. He secured favorable contracts and was able to boost production significantly, and Meiomi has since shown sizzling popularity. Its volume has grown at the rate of 40% annually over the last several years.

“Joe is still boosting production today,” his father says. Indeed, Meiomi has now been separated from Wagner Family of Wine, and Joe sells it under his own company, called Copper Cane, with plans to continue expanding. “He has become a large buyer of grapes, and this year he’s leasing and planting 230 acres of Pinot Noir in Santa Maria Valley,” adds Wagner. “It’s a major investment.”

Three of Wagner’s four children have now joined the business. Wagner’s third child, Jenny, is in charge of the Emmolo label, which is named after her maternal family and was launched by her mother, Cheryl Emmolo, in 1994. Jenny’s first wines, the 2012 Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc and the 2011 Emmolo Merlot, were released earlier this year. “I’m very excited for her,” says Wagner. “Her goal is to make the best damn Merlot in the state of California.”

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