When the Highway Patrol removed the plants, they refused to remove the abandoned van due to it lacking its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), thus there was no proof of ownership. After many attempts to remove the van over the following months, Mark emphatically stated, “I just want that van gone.” The vineyard manager then called back a few weeks later with a single statement: “Van gone.” Where the van went is a mystery. The name stuck and the icon on the label is an abstract image of the van.
The Estate Vineyard is a staggeringly beautiful site perched on two ridge tops, high in the Vaca Mountains between Atlas Peak, Pritchard Hill and Oakville. With views looking down across the nearby Rector Creek reservoir towards Screaming Eagle on one side (see picture), high up towards Continuum Estate in the other direction, and untouched wilderness at every other angle, it is one of the most stunning terroirs in Napa.
Proprietor Mark Davidowski and winemaker Sam Kaplan (Arkenstone & Momento Mori) produce a unique trio of wines: around 100 cases each of two individual vineyard parcels, Block B and Block D, as well as masterfully combining them into the Estate Cabernet (c.250 cases).
The west-facing Block B has great exposure to the sunshine and the reservoir below has a significant cooling influence.
Block D faces Atlas Peak to the east, on an incredibly steep part of the vineyard.
The Estate Cabernet is a stunning combination of the two. It carries notes from each and shines with gorgeous density, structure and personality.
After 20+ vintages in the Napa Valley, Sam often reflects on what first got him interested in and then passionate about winemaking and the culture of wine as a way of life. He goes back to one day in college when he walked into a friend’s winery in Oregon and was overcome with the aromas of fermentation. It was a pivotal moment. “It smelled like home, and reminded me of my early childhood”, he says. Sam remembers his physician dad and friends making wine in their garage. Although he jokingly calls his dad “an early garagiste,” he remembers how wine, the intensity of aromas with fermentation, pulled family and friends together.