Artesa is perhaps the most imaginative and striking of all Napa Valley wineries, rivaling and even surpassing the likes of Opus One and Dominus. Resplendent with a sculpture-studded visitor center and futuristic fountain, everything about this young winery exudes panache and style. From panoramic views of San Pablo and San Francisco Bays to the bevy of opulent, individualistic wines that flow from meticulously tended vineyards, Artesa offers every enticement to stay and taste.
Artesa means “craftsman” in Catalan, the language of Barcelona and the winery’s owners, the Raventos family. As the name implies, all of this world-class winery’s offerings are handcrafted. Born in 1991 to great fanfare, Artesa has undergone several makeovers in order to specialize in the production of small lots of exquisite wines from single-vineyard sites.
Established originally to make only premium sparkling wines, Artesa has adroitly switched its focus to include a range of premium still wines from California’s finest varietals. Since 1997, millions of dollars have been spent on a “winemaker’s wish list,” which has raised the bar at this outstanding property, not only for its still varietal offerings but also for the estate’s traditional methode champenoise sparkling wine, as well.
Today, the winery’s most notable wines include two superb Carneros offerings, a tantalizing, full-bodied Pinot Noir and an equally stunning Carneros Chardonnay; and a rich, elegant Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. These are, of course, in addition to Artesa’s excellent champagne-style sparkling wines. In total, Artesa comprises 352 acres in Carneros that are devoted mostly to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; 409 acres in northern Alexander Valley, which are dedicated equally to the Bordeaux varietals and Tempranillo; and a new 300-acre Sonoma Coast property that will produce Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Spain’s most important white varietal, Albarino.
In order to produce top-notch Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir that occupy the highest echelon of Napa Valley offerings, Artesa employs Dave Dobson as Head Winemaker. Dave came to Artesa in 2005 after resurrecting Rutherford Hill and re-establishing the legendary winery as one of Napa Valley’s greatest estates. He chose to leave Rutherford Hill and come to Artesa because “this [Artesa] is a winery with history, with an amazing facility and with dedicated, smart, passionate people. But what really puts it over the top are the vineyards. We're in all the right places to do amazing things: Foss Valley, Alexander Valley and, of course, Carneros. It's an embarrassment of riches."
In order to fashion Artesa’s riches, Dave spends months in the vineyards. It is the part of the job he loves most "because it's where sun, rain and soil meld into something sublime,” he states. “ It's where the winemaker can have a huge impact on quality by ensuring even ripening and determining when to harvest and it's where you can make a huge difference. In the winery, once you've got the basics down, you're kind of working on the margins. In the vineyard, improvements can be dramatic and profound." And the proof is in the wines. Dave’s tenure at Artesa has unequivocally raised the quality bar.
In addition to Artesa, the Raventos family owns Codorniu, Spain’s first and foremost producer of Cava; Bodegas Bilbainas, a historic property in the heart of Haro in La Rioja Alta; Septima, a stunning new winery in the famed Agrelo district of the province of Mendoza in Argentina; and other prime Spanish properties. All are renowned for their quality and individual styling.