RICK RUIZ – PRESIDENT, CHARLES WOODSON WINES
Charles Woodson discovered his appreciation for wine in 1998 when he arrived in Napa with the Oakland Raiders for training camp. He was intrigued when he noticed that everywhere he went people were enjoying a bottle of wine. It didn’t matter if it was an opulent dinner, low key lunch, or lazy afternoon. He was drawn to the fact that people seemed to slow down and come together over a glass of wine. Being the curious type, he not only wanted to participate in this ritual, he wanted to learn how to create it himself.
In 2001 Charles, met Rick Ruiz who was working at Robert Mondavi Winery. Rick invited Charles to visit the winery and showed him around the cellar while explaining the winemaking process from start to finish. In that moment, Charles’ desire to actually make a wine was launched. The two worked together with another friend – who happened to be acclaimed international winemaker, Gustavo A. Gonzalez – to create the first barrel of Charles Woodson Wines. They produced a 2001 vintage Merlot that was used to support the various charities with which Charles is involved.
OUR VINEYARD AND FARMING PRACTICES
The Charles Woodson Wines vineyard is farmed with the same artisanship, precision and delicate care that is at the core of the winemaking philosophy. After an in-depth sourcing process that led Charles Woodson and the winemaking team through some of the most coveted vineyards in the Napa Valley, the site exhibiting the highest potential to define Charles Woodson Wines as a wine of structure and elegance was selected.
The chosen vineyard, owned by Heitz Bros. Vineyards, has a pedigree as exclusive as its northern Napa Valley location. The original vines were planted in 1904 by Michael and Louise, the grandparents of the current Heitz Bros. owners. As recent immigrants from the Alsace region of what was then Germany, now France, the couple wanted to find a place where they could raise a family while putting Michael’s horticultural background to use.
The result of their search was the purchase of 50 acres of prime Napa Valley soil located at the base of Diamond Mountain, just two and a half miles south of the town of Calistoga. Michael made an assortment of wines from the original vines which included varieties such as Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, and Charbono.
This section of land is still held by the Heitz family and is managed by one of the third generation brothers, Mark. A true farmer, Mark does not make wine. He prides himself on focusing solely on the grape growing process which allows him to direct all of his time and attention toward cultivating the highest quality vines possible.
After years of working in the soil and learning the climate conditions, Mark concluded that the most optimal varietals to grow in this site are of the Bordeaux family. The majority of his land is now dedicated to the production of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that grow next to esteemed neighbors including Sterling, Clos Pegase and Schramsberg.
JAMEY WHETSTONE - PROPRIETOR AND WINEMAKER , WHETSTONE WINE CELLARS
Born in Florence, SC, I grew up the son of a Baptist preacher and moved around quite a bit before settling in Wilmington, NC. I relocated to Napa in 1996 to manage Mustards Grill, figuring I’d gain restaurant experience before heading back home to the Carolinas to open a restaurant of my own. Napa had other plans for me. My winemaking education began in 1998 at Turley Wine Cellars, where learning how to change the clutch on a tractor was more valued than knowledge of Bordeaux First Growths. I had the opportunity to take a summer sabbatical working for the Seysses family at Domaine Dujac in Morey-Saint-Denis, which cemented my love for Pinot Noir. After returning from France, I founded Whetstone Wine Cellars in 2002 while continuing my apprenticeship at Turley. In 2005, I left Turley in order to take the leap toward growing the Whetstone brand.
We purchased Whetstone Estate in February of 2011, and opened our doors in July of 2013. The centerpiece of the property is a 19th century French-style chateau, now our tasting salon, which sits on two acres located at the base of Atlas Peak Road in Napa. Other than gaining a physical location, the most significant change in the trajectory of Whetstone Wine Cellars was the full-time addition of my wife, Michelle. She’s behind the overall operations and aesthetic of our brand, and introduced our simple but effective sales motto: to be more in touch with the lost art of face-to-face communication. With the touch-screen ease of the digital sales world, we’ve made this grassroots approach a priority here at Whetstone. The quality of our wines coupled with the gorgeous setting, relaxed atmosphere and Southern hospitality make for a truly unique Wine Country experience. We look forward to seeing you soon!
U P C O M I N G E V E N T S : W I N E D I N N E R // B O U L D E R , C O
What: Join Jamey Whetstone at Frasca Food & Wine for
an epic 4-course prix fixe dinner!
When: Monday, November 14th // 5:30PM
Where: Frasca Food & Wine
1738 Pearl Street // Boulder, CO
Price: $50 per person + optional wine pairing
*tax and gratuity not included
RSVP: 303.442.6966 // Space limited so call NOW!