Wednesdays with Winemakers – Russell Bevan
If there is a winemaker in Napa Valley that fits the description “Larger than Life,” it is Russell Bevan.
Native Californians, Bevan and his partner Victoria DeCrescenzo fell in love with wine while living in the Midwest. They started regularly traveling to California, visiting cellars of luminaries such as Philip Togni, Bob Foley and Greg La Follette. They soon moved to Sonoma County, where Kal Showket became their mentor and shepherded the couple into planting their estate vineyard. He also sold them a ton of his best fruit, to see if they would like making wine…the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Russell Bevan is one of Napa Valley’s most acclaimed winemakers; a superstar with critics, colleagues and consumers alike. Famed critic, Robert Parker, regularly praises his wines, providing correspondingly sky-high scores. His wines are invariably unapologetic, character driven and remarkably tasty. They are made in small lots, many under 100 cases, and sell out in an instant. He also makes wines for such notable producers as Chateau Boswell, Jemrose, Chase, and Wren Hop. He just bought the 41-acre Saunders Vineyard in Oakville, which borders Dalla Valle and Oakville Ranch. He leases a vineyard from the Tench family as well, ensuring long-term access to some of the best fruit in the valley. This property is adjacent to Screaming Eagle and Rudd. For years, the owners have sold fruit to Nickel & Nickel and Quivet Cellars. From his dogged pursuit of excellence in viticulture, to resourcefulness in the cellar, and to legendary property acquisitions, Bevan’s enormous success took years of hard work. Building his brand from the ground up, Russell Bevan is an extraordinary example of achieving towering heights in the wine world.
Why did you become a vintner/winemaker?
I have always loved wine and wanted to turn my passion into a profession.
If you weren’t a vintner/winemaker what would you be and why?
A super model. Why? Look at me.
What is your greatest strength as a vintner/winemaker?
Working with our farming partners to grow special grapes.
What is your biggest weakness as a vintner/winemaker?
I over stress about almost everything.
What’s the one mistake that you made in the cellar you would never repeat?
I dropped a barrel while driving a forklift.
What is your proudest achievement?
Crafting special wines in 2011.
What was your scariest vintage to date?
2010, our first vintage without the amazing Showket Vineyard.
What is your favorite word?
What is your most prized possession?
The Saunders Vineyard.
What’s the oddest thing about you?
I live out loud.
What song best sums you up?
Everyday by DMB.
What is your favorite memory?
First climax with a partner.
Which of the 5 senses is your strongest?
What is your biggest motivation?
Which bottle of wine would choose to be stranded with on a deserted island?
2007 Keller TBA for Sweet, 89 Haut Brion for red, 2008 Marcassin for White.
What is the difference between a good and a great wine?
Name 3 individuals you would like to have dinner with?
Thomas Jefferson, Plato, and John Lennon.
Who is your winemaking hero?
Philip Togni and Greg La Follette.
What does the concept of “balance” mean to you?
The harmony between textures, flavors and aromatics.
What is the one thing you want people to remember about your wine?
It was serious and yummy.
Best comment made about your wine? Was it by a consumer, trade or press?
Press, Robert Parker.