Viader Vineyards

Viader Vineyards

Founded in 1986 by Delia Viader, VIADER is located 1,200 feet above the Napa Valley floor just northeast of St. Helena on the steep, rocky slopes of Howell Mountain. VIADER is recognized around the world for consistently producing award winning, very limited production red wines and red Bordeaux-style blends. Emulating a European design quite rare in California, the vines are oriented up and down the steep hillsides, a planting method that optimizes sun exposure, vine density and erosion control. Planting on such a steep grade of 32% is a challenge and requires meticulous hand farming.

The first VIADER wine was produced in 1989 and with that vintage a proprietary estate blend was established that features Cabernet Franc with Cabernet Sauvignon as its base element. At the time, this blend was a daring diversion from other Cabernet-based wines being made in Napa Valley. This blend has come to be the signature wine from VIADER.

Over the years, the product line has grown to include Syrah under the VIADER label and two additional brands: The “V” is a reserve Bordeaux-style blend featuring Petit Verdot. The DARE line features two distinct wines – a Cabernet Franc and a Tempranillo – made from selected vineyards. Born in Argentina, Proprietor Delia Viader spent much of her formative years in Europe and especially in France. She developed an international approach to business and a long range vision of success. Delia came to the United States as a post-graduate student and earned her PhD.

While raising four children on her own, Delia forged the vision and design for this unique estate vineyard property, wine blend and brand.

Because of Delia’s dedication, persistence and attention to high ideals, VIADER was recognized early on as a first growth property and the wines have been highly coveted since inception. In the last few years, Delia’s children have come back to help manage and operate the business, making this a true family concern. Alan Viader is Director of Operations and Winemaking, Janet Viader is Director of Marketing and Sales. Mariela Viader (married to Alan) is in charge of the Culinary Program. In the winter of 2006, Michel Rolland, the world-renowned enologist, and family friend, was brought on as a winemaking consultant.

Delia has earned the reputation as a pioneer for planting the vines running directly down the mountain, in a style normally found in Bordeaux. After receiving initial criticism, eventually Delia’s vineyards on Howell Mountain were regarded as an ideal model for growing super-premium quality grapes. The original focus on Cabernet Franc as the main blending component, thought to be radical upon release, was a natural harkening back to Delia’s European roots and her love of Cheval Blanc.

Over the years, Delia has remained true to her vision. Today Viader Vineyards is a thriving family business producing world-class wines from a magnificent, mature estate vineyard property complete with small bonded winery, underground caves, and a Hospitality Center which offers tours and tastings by appointment and a sophisticated wine and food pairing Culinary Program.

Planted on the lower reaches of Howell Mountain at 1,200 ft elevation, the soil for the vineyard at VIADER is mainly the rocky remnants of this former volcano. The volcanic loamy soils offer superior drainage for each of the VIADER estate varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Syrah. The lack of topsoil stresses the plant and forces the grapevine to concentrate all of its resources into the production of the fruit.

The Vineyard was planted in order to best represent the distinctiveness of this incredibly challenging terroir. The vine rows are orientated East/West, running down a steep 32º slope. These characteristics give the optimum conditions for the ripening of the fruit. The afternoon sun shines directly over the top of the canopy of the grapevines, which filters the light and prevents the grapes from receiving direct sunlight which can damage the fruit. In addition, the mountain breezes can easily flow between the rows, which are positioned up and down the mountain, as opposed to the traditional method of close-to-contour terracing. This is especially important in the hot months before harvest, and during the last months of winter, when temperatures drop and there is threat of frost. Moreover, the volcanic rock component in the ground absorbs the heat, and releases it after sunset. Spacing in the VIADER vineyard is 2,200 vines per acre, planted every 5' x 4' -- approximately four times the average planting density.

Furthermore, VIADER prides itself on producing wines that are organically grown, hand-farmed, with very low yields per acre. Average yields are fewer than 3 tons per acre.

Viader Vineyards boasts three talented and distinctive winemakers: founder Delia Viader herself, Alan Viader, and Michel Rolland. Even before establishing VIADER, Delia Viader found she was decidedly more attracted to Old World wines. She was particularly impressed by the wines of Chateau Cheval Blanc in St. Emilion, from which she based the idea for her first blend, the 1989 VIADER (40% cabernet franc, 60% cabernet sauvignon). Soon after successfully releasing her first vintage, it was clear that her efforts to develop the vineyard were worthwhile. Delia's story illustrates the importance of education and understanding coupled with following one's instincts. VIADER Winery and her wines have consistently reflected these strengths.

Since childhood, Alan has assisted in the vineyards at VIADER, primarily working during his summer vacations. Today he looks back fondly on those early summer mornings when he was responsible for manually clearing the piles of rocks from between the rows to allow the tractor to pass. In college, he formally pursued his interest in viticulture with a hands-on program in Sonoma and he learned the fundamentals of winemaking at UC Davis. There, he accumulated more knowledge and respect for the organic farming principles he grew up with at VIADER. Alan also spearheaded the biodynamic project with consultant Phillipe Armenier, integrating the biodynamic calendar and several herbal treatments to the vines and in the cellar with fervor. Alan has been managing the VIADER vineyards since 2002, but has worked in all areas of wine production, and also national sales. In 2005, looking to gain more winery experience, Alan worked the harvest in Mendoza, Argentina with close friends Manuel Ferrer Minettti and Santiago Achaval from Bodega Achaval-Ferrer. While in Argentina, he was picking fruit from hundred-year-old Malbec vines, and soon after, out of his appreciation for the Bordeaux varietal, he installed 174 vines of Malbec at VIADER to have “something to play with.” The following year of 2006, Alan started dedicating his time to both vineyard management and winemaking, and would later become the Director of Operations, responsible for the 2005 wines at VIADER. As Delia's right-hand, Alan has the opportunity of overseeing production from start to finish. And having inherited his mother’s passion for winemaking and expressing the terroir, Alan is looking forward to many exciting vintages in the family business.

Lastly, consulting Enologist Michel Rolland is an influential Bordeaux-based enologist, consulting with about 80 wineries in Bordeaux, some 55 of which are on the Right Bank; Merlot and the lusher, Right-Bank style are seen as being his specialty, though he works with many other grapes as well. And in other places: 10 foreign countries in all.
Rolland works with two other independent consultants, Athanase Fakorellis and Pascal Chatonnet. His wife Dany runs the company laboratory and many aspects of the family wineries, Chateaux Le Bon Pasteur, Fontenil in Fronsac and La Grande Clotte in Lussac.

The Viader family business is further strengthened by the dedicated work of two additional Viader women: Sales and Marketing director Janet Viader, and Executive Chef Mariela Viader. Janet Viader grew up in the Napa Valley on the vineyards of VIADER which was founded in 1986 by her mother, Delia Viader. Janet has been involved in the family business since a very early age and has witnessed firsthand the growth of the business and brand. Janet completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley and Sciences Po University in Paris, France. She has spent time in the wine regions of Western Europe, Argentina, and back home in the Pacific Northwest improving her wine education, language skills and palate. Before officially joining the family business, she dedicated six months to a political research project in Argentina, where most of her family resides. She then spent a year working at Napa Legal Aid, providing free legal services to low-income families, seniors and immigrants. In January 2007, Janet joined the family business as the director of sales and marketing. She currently serves on the Board of "NG: The Next Generation in Wine," a collaborative marketing group of second generation family winemakers. Janet is also one of the youngest Board Directors elected to represent the Napa Vintners Association, the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation with a membership nearing 400 Napa Valley wineries.

Mariela Viader, Executive Chef, was born Mariela de la Cerda in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Mariela and Alan Viader were married in 2006. Mariela has always shown a passion for cooking, and was professionally-trained at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon (Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts). After finishing her studies she pursued her dream of being a chef and was contracted as an intern at Bouchon in Yountville, a sister restaurant of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in the heart of Napa Valley. Upon completing her internship at Bouchon, she was curious to explore other types of cuisine, and started working at Chef Hiro Sone’s Asian-inspired restaurant Terra in St. Helena. Simultaneously, Mariela cooked at Redd restaurant, under Chef Richard Reddington, formerly of Auberge du Soleil. Proving herself as a talented chef she was given an opportunity to help test and develop recipes for a number of cookbooks. In late 2006, she decided to leave the restaurant world to pursue a career as a private chef found herself cooking events all over the Napa Valley. Currently, she actively participates in the family business, as Director of the Culinary Program at VIADER, happily preparing anything from hors-d’oeuvres, to casual picnics, lunches and elegant 3- to 5-course dinners for our guests. With her own organic vegetable garden on the VIADER estate, and another in her own backyard, Mariela always uses the freshest and seasonal organic produce for all her wine-pairing dishes.

Visit Viader Vineyards’ tasting room to experience wines as breathtaking as the views. Stop by for a tasting of VIADER wines on the terrace overlooking the Howell Mountain estate vineyards and the beautiful Napa Valley. Declared by Robert Parker, Jr. of the Wine Advocate as "one of the most magnificently situated vineyards in California," Viader has also been recognized as one of the "Napa Wineries with the Best Views" in San Francisco's 7x7 Magazine. The Viader Vineyards team looks forward to accommodating you!