Wines Reflecting Mother Earth Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards harnesses their families' history of exquisite taste and quality. BY TOURING & TASTING
Photos courtesy of Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards
A blend of family history has helped create a culture and ultimately, wine that the rest of the world can enjoy.
“ Besides discovering wonderful wines, guests can expect to feel right at home with this inspired, industrious family who has inherited a passion to grow and produce exceptional wines.”
In Latin, the name Materra is a rough translation for Mother Earth. It’s quite a fitting name for wines from the 50-acre vineyard purchased by Brian and his brother, John Cunat, along with their family in 2007. Their commitment to agriculture and farming reaches back years earlier to the Midwest, where Brian worked on a farm as a boy. Their passion for wine was inspired by Brian’s wife Miki’s father, Yasuo Obata, founder and chef of the renowned Restaurant Edelheim in Shiogama, Japan. His expertise at pairing the cuisine and wines of France and Germany earned the restaurant international acclaim.
"Thanks to my grandfather, Yasuo, our family has a very refined European palate," says Brian and Miki’s daughter and Vice President of Operations Neena Cunat Heitz. "And thanks to my grandfather, Dean, we grow excellent quality fruit that becomes exquisite wine."
Brian strongly believes that by identifying the best soils and climates, meticulously planning and planting, and gently cultivating and nurturing the vines, they will yield the highest quality grapes. For nearly a decade, the Cunat family has practiced these principles, resulting in some of the highest quality grapes from Napa Valley’s esteemed Oak Knoll District. The vines are farmed using sustainable methods and even the production, storage, and hospitality facilities on the property demonstrate the family’s commitment to producing wines with as little impact on the environment as possible.
Each Materra wine is a pure expression of its origin, Mother Earth. Members of the Cunat family assume a variety of roles from vineyard selection to packaging. In addition, they rely on two consulting winemakers, Bruce Regalia and Michael Trujillo, to provide expertise and assure the wines are made to the family’s high standards. "They assume a hands-on role and, with the help of our enologist and cellar crew, lovingly craft our wines," Neena explains. "But the blending process involves the entire family. My father often tastes the wines with them as they are blending, and we have an annual blending event each May."
This heartfelt collaborative effort is realized with each new release of Materra wine. Each elegant wine provides an exciting aromatic and flavor profile and may be enjoyed now or cellared for as long as one’s patience prevails. Often described as classic and fruit forward, the wines have received their share of accolades, including the 2011 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, which received 90 points from Wine & Spirits. The 2011 Right Bank Reserve is a blend of all the standard Bordeaux varietals (Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc) and the winery’s flagship wine.
Warm, welcoming, and friendly, the tasting room is located at the family’s new, state-of-the-art winery on the vineyard property. To be certain all guests get the attention they deserve, the family requests that appointments be made in advance. They offer three different tasting options: the Daily Tasting, the Tour & Tasting, and the Reserve Tasting. Besides discovering wonderful wines, guests can expect to feel right at home with this inspired, industrious family who has inherited a passion to grow and produce exceptional wines.
What to Buy '13 Chardonnay - $25
Citrus, apricot, grapefruit, hazelnut
'11 Right Bank Reserve - $44
Dark cherry, black licorice, cinnamon, chocolate
'10 Cabernet Sauvignon - $65
Jammy red and black fruit, nutmeg, vanilla, black pepper
Sustainable farming practices, wine club events and discounts, winemaker dinners, owner on site.