Viader Vineyards & Winery
Founded in 1986 by Delia Viader, VIADER is located 1200 feet above the Napa Valley floor just northeast of St. Helena on the steep, rocky slopes of Howell Mountain. 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 Direction 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 cirticism, 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. The idea of a single woman running a successful winery business while raising a family of four children on her own was a rare happening in Napa Valley’s developing fine wine business in the late ‘80’s.
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 1200 ft elevation, the soil for the vineyard at Viader is mainly the rocky remnants of this former volcano. The volcanic loamy soils, made up of rhyolite and tuffa rocks, 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 in producing wines that are organically grown, hand-farmed, with very low yields per acre. Average yields are on average 2 tons per acre.