The name Calla Lily comes from a Greek word for beauty. At some point during the 19th century, flowers began to be associated with the expression of specific feelings and the stunning cone shaped calla lily became the symbol of youth and rebirth. You will often find it in arrangements that are sent for major transitions, such as rebirths and new beginnings. It is also the symbol of the latest wine venture for fourth generation winemaker Cary Gott.
A Calla Lily is not really a lily. The scientist in me, can’t continue this article without sharing that fact. When Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus was busy categorizing everything he could into his classification system, he mislabeled it. Years later, German botanist Karl Koch, realized that these amazing flowers were classified wrong and created a new genus Zantedeschia to include the misnomer along with its true relatives caladium and philodendron, but the name continued on.
Fourth Generation Winemaker
Cary Gott has been involved in the wine industry for over 40 years. His great grandparents, whose family name was Cary, were grape growers in Lodi, CA. They grew Tokay, Mission and Zinfandel grapes which they would ship their wines to the east coast using the railway system. His grandparents followed suit in the wine growing industry, but joined cooperatives to produce brandy. After WWII, his father remained in the wine business as a winemaker for Petri in Escalon, CA, which is where Cary grew up running around the winery.
After graduating from UC Davis, Cary worked at Inglenook and then Sterling Vineyards. In 1973, his family purchased land in Amador County and began making wine in their basement. After growing the business, he sold to Sutter Home and he and his wife, Vicky, moved down to San Luis Obispo and started Corbett Canyon where he remained for approximately 5 years. They say that if keep clothing long enough, it comes back into fashion. I guess jobs follow the same rule, because Cary returned to Napa Valley, to take over as President of Sterling Vineyards/Mumm where he remained until the late 1990s.
Today, Cary splits him time between helping other winemakers create their brand and maintaining his own winery, Calla Lily. His company, Vineyard & Winery Estates, “provides specialized management services to select ultra-premium wine and vineyard estates. Our services range from start-up efforts of new super premium brands to evaluation of and re-shaping existing winery and vineyard operations. We assist in property and brand searches for people who want to enter the vineyard and winery business. Due diligence on acquisitions is a specialty of our consulting services.“
Cary’s winery, Calla Lily is located in Pope Valley AVA. The property, which located on the eastern side of and just below Howell Mountain, although not part of that AVA, is just over 65 acres with approximately 20 under vine and sits at 800 ft above sea level.
Pope Valley AVA is located in the northeastern portion of Napa Valley. It’s wines are celebrated due to its ability to grow grapes at higher elevations.
All wines at Calla Lily are estate. Cary works hard to continually improve the quality of the production of the grapes he grows. The vineyard was originally laid out to be a “Bordeaux House.”They grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec. (and for those really geeky winelovers out there; the vineyard has a small plot of pre-phylloxera vines.)
The first thing Cary did after obtaining the vineyard, was dramatically reduce the production per acre of the vines. He now limits the tonnage to no more than 4 tons per acre which intensifies the flavors and improves the quality of the wine. The hillside land, sees weather conditions in September and October, when the coastal fog comes over the hill, the fog above St. Helena just enters Pope Valley. It is slightly warmer so the fruit ripens a little slower than in Howell Mountain, which is just above them. This climate, as Cary puts it, creates a Calla Lily style wine and that is exactly what he is looking for.
In 2013, Anthony Fung and Andy Chui, two businessmen from Hong Kong, contacted Cary. They wanted to enter the California wine industry and needed help finding a vineyard and winery site. With Cary’s guidance, they found a winery that was build only three years earlier and was fully equipped. It seemed like a perfect opportunity, so they purchased it.
They named the winery after the flower Calla Lily, which represents youth and rebirth as well as beauty and refinement – All things that they felt were ideal for a winery’s wine to express. The label itself, is a scroll of a Calla Lily that was designed by calligrapher in China and given to them as a gift.
Calla Lily produces three wines. Ultimate Pinot Noir (SRP: $39), which is the house BTG wine at Copia, Ultimate Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP: $65) and Audax, which is Bold in Latin (SRP: $120). I received the later two wines as samples:
2014 Calla Lily Ultimate Cabernet Sauvignon
? clear, deep ruby in color
? clean, medium (+) aromas of leather, cherry cola, black cherry and spice
? dry, medium acidity, medium (+) tannin, medium alcohol, medium (-) body, medium (+) flavors of leather, anise, shortbread, plum and raspberry.
? 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, 22 months in 43% new French oak, 14.6% ABV, long finish, drink now but definitely age worthy
2013 Audax Cabernet Sauvignon
? clear, deep ruby in color
? clean, pronounced aromas of black cherry, eucalyptus, licorice and raspberry
? dry, medium acidity, high tannin, medium alcohol, medium body, pronounced flavors tobacco, cassis, date, oak and plum
? 86.6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.2% Merlot, 0.2% Cabernet Franc, 27 months in 50% new French oak, 14.5% ABV, long finish, needs some air to open up, age worthy
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