2015 Scholar & Mason Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Founded in 2008 and located in Sebastopol, Sonoma County, the Brack Mountain Wine Company takes an approach to making and marketing wine they believe is more in tune with the 21st century. It operates neither as a “chateau” (no iconic buildings, sprawling estate vineyards, gardens, or caves) nor as a “negociant” bottler of bulk wine. Instead, the company focuses its attention entirely on the craft of producing fine wine. This begins with establishing long-term relationships with growers who farm vineyards sustainably. Whereas Brack Mountain does own a small property in the Dry Creek Valley, most of their production is sourced from excellent vineyards throughout Sonoma County as well as Napa, Mendocino and the Central Coast. BMWC produces a wide range of wines, including appellation and single-vineyard bottlings, varietal wines and blends, coastal Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, Sonoma and Napa Cabs, old-vine Zins and even such obscure varietals as Pinot Gris, Verdelho, and Charbono. Rather than bottle the whole gamut of styles and AVAs under one label, BMWC sells them under 17 different brand names - each with a unique and eye-catching label. In this way, wines from different subregions or in different price categories are given a unique identity, and the company has more versatility in targeting different markets, such as restaurants, wine bars, connoisseurs or millennials. Despite the variety, one thing remains constant: winemaking. All the wines are produced in small lots and in a style that emphasizes freshness, balance, age worthiness, and moderate levels of alcohol. Avoiding many of the costs of running a traditional winery, BMWC can afford to use such artisanal methods as natural yeast fermentations and French oak aging with even its most value-oriented labels.                                                                                                                                                                                   Under the Scholar & Mason label, Brack Mountain Winery produces wine from the prestigious Napa Valley – but at price points that encourage drinking instead of collecting. Because Cabernet Sauvignon is what the Napa Valley does best, this variety is at the core of all Scholar & Mason wines. Winemaker Daniel Fitzgerald's approach is to create wines that are expressions of the Napa Valley as a whole, blends sourced from a variety of sub AVAs instead of single vineyards. By maintaining long-term relationships with growers in different parts of the valley, the winery ensures the fruit meets its specifications. For in keeping with Brack Mountain’s philosophy, the wines are elegant, food-friendly and Bordeaux-like in character – lower in alcohol than typical Napa Valley Cabs, with palpable acidity and tannin in addition to the deep and dark fruit we expect.


Unlike many in the Napa Valley, the producers of Scholar & Mason have not set out to make a blockbuster. This Cab was sourced from opposite ends of the Napa Valley, with the majority coming from a vineyard in Yountville, a cooler part of the valley, and the rest grown in Calistoga, where summer days can be hot and dry. Hence, the wine combines the red fruit flavors, acidity and structure of Yountville with the rich, ripe black fruit characteristics of Calistoga into a wine of restrained power - that may remind Bordeaux lovers of the Haut-Medoc. According to the winery, in 2015, a mild winter and spring with almost no rain contributed to early ripening, low to moderate yields and highly concentrated grapes of exceptional quality. By going for structure and acidity and by keeping alcohol and time in new oak low, the winemakers have produced a wine that will make good company with food and good conversation. 


Grapes were 50% de-stemmed and 50% crushed before fermentation on native yeasts in stainless steel. After a 38-day extended maceration, the wine was pressed and transferred to barrel (40% new French oak) for 19 months’ aging. 

Tasting notes

Tantalizing aromas of black plum, rhubarb, vanilla and cedar precede an opulent palate of blackberry, black cherry and earthy flavors. Silky tannins and acidity keep the texture lively and the finish long.


Napa Valley


Cabernet Sauvignon