In 1991, Spain’s oldest winemaking family, Raventós Codorníu, ventured to a new world: a sea-facing hillside in the Napa Valley, with rocky soils and a favorable coastal climate. It was here in Los Carneros, that they planted new roots, building upon a 460-year winemaking legacy to create the next generation of estate-grown artisan wines: Artesa.
Artesa was founded in 1991 by the Codorníu Raventós family. Raventós Codorníu is the oldest family winery in Spain, with roots dating back to 1551. Seventeen generations of the founding family have built a legacy of innovation, from the world-famous inventors of Cava, Codorníu; to the oldest winery in Rioja, Bodega Bilbainas; to the single largest estate vineyard in Europe, Raimat; to the jewels of Legaris in Ribera del Duero and Priorat’s Scala Dei; to the high elevation vineyards of Septima in Mendoza, Argentina; and of course at Artesa.
At first, the Carneros winery focused on sparkling wines, then turned to Napa’s classic still wines—pinot noir, chardonnay, and cabernet sauvignon. The company changed the winery’s name from Codorníu Raventós to Artesa in 1997, signaling a new focus on artisan wines. “Artesa” is Catalan word for “handcrafted.”
The winery is an architectural treasure designed by famed Barcelona architect Domingo Triay in the early 1990s. Fountains abound and you can catch a glimpse of the San Francisco skyline from its elevated terrace. It is set into the highest hill of the 350-acre estate and kept naturally cool by its earthen construction. The visitor center presents original works of sculpture, painting, and mixed-media by Gordon Huether, the winery’s artist-in-residence. The winery itself and its grounds are dramatic works of art.
Vineyards and Estate: 50 Blocks
The Artesa Estate Vineyard is set in the steep foothills that straddle the Los Carneros and Mount Veeder AVAs at the southern tip of the Napa Valley. Its proximity to the San Pablo Bay, three miles south, provides the cool, maritime climate ideal for pinot noir and chardonnay. Their 150-acre vineyard is planted along five distinct ridges, with a variety of slopes and soils. To farm such a complex site, they divide the vineyard in over fifty distinct blocks, tailoring efforts to the unique character of each block.
Most of the vineyard is dedicated to pinot noir – 80 acres are planted in 28 blocks with ten distinct clones. The steep, south-facing slopes of the ranch are dominated by shallow, alluvial soils of weathered sandstone and shale, with long exposure to sunshine and maritime air. These are ideal conditions for growing pinot noir that is clean, balanced, concentrated and distinctively aromatic.
Nearly fifty acres are planted to chardonnay in 13 blocks, primarily on northeast-facing slopes that offer some protection from wind and late-afternoon sun and are dominated by Haire Clay Loam soils. Chardonnay from these sites express ripe citrus character and distinctive minerality.
Twenty acres are dedicated to twelve micro-blocks specially suited to boutique Estate bottlings. Albariño is planted on two of the coolest sites; low-lying, gentle slopes in the shadow of Milliken Peak. Six blocks of Tempranillo are planted on gravelly soils in the warmest sites, and the very highest ridge of the property, above the 400 foot elevation boundary that separates Mount Veeder from Carneros, are four blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Artesa Estate Vineyard is farmed sustainably in accordance with certifications for Napa Green Land and Fish Friendly Farming.