Krupp Brothers Winery starts with great terroir, then adds grapes
Among the delightful boutique wines cropping up in area shops are the distinctive Napa offerings of Krupp Brothers Winery, which are characterized by big fruit flavors and excellent structure. After having attended a couple of recent tastings, I interviewed owner Jan Krupp, an internal medicine physician, by phone last week.
Q: How do you practice medicine and maintain your vineyard?
A: I do not practice anymore, except as a first responder in the vineyards. We have too many grapevines to do that and practice medicine.
Q: How did you make the transition from medicine to winemaking?
A: I studied at Yale, but wanted to learn medicine in the sunshine, so I moved to northern California and did my post grad at Stanford. I liked being a doctor, but liked growing grapes and making wine even more. In 1991, I found 41 acres with the potential for high quality wines. I planted wilder and rockier vineyards until I had 500,000 vines planted and gave up medicine to make wine. I studied at UC-Davis to learn the science of winemaking.
Dr. Jan Krupp with his stagecoach atop the vineyard.
COURTESY PHOTO Q: Do you see an advantage in creating a wholly new vineyard rather than purchasing an existing one?
A: The advantage is you can really studys ari what type of grapes and rootstock are best for your location, and get the right angle for the rows. You do not inherit someone else’se mistake. Also,A exceptional vineyards are not for sale.
Q: How do your vineyards differ from each other?
A: Our Stagecoach Vineyard is planted with 550 acres of grapes on Atlas Peak. The different aspects of the soil make it perfect for cabernet sauvignon, and the mountain grapes make a bigger, juicier fruit with ripe round tannins. The Krupp Vineyard has about 30 acres planted in mostly tempranillo and malbec. It’s a little cooler spot. The Krupp Brothers Vineyard is generally deeper soil, so we can utilize different rootstocks there.
Q: What’s your favorite wine that you make?
A: That depends on what I am eating, but if I could take just one to a desert island, it would be the Krupp Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon. It has so much depth and concentration and complexity.
Q: What are your plans for the near future?
A: We hope to build a winery in the next year, and we want to do more small production wines for our wine club members. We bottled a special malbec last year, and also a syrah with three years barrel aging. It is wonderful to do these wines, and we’re hoping once the tasting room and winery are open it will drive more visitors out to us. Right now, we crush and make our wines at Laird Family Estate Winery in Napa, and tastings are at the top of Stagecoach Vineyard, at 1,800-feet elevation. Normally, we take visitors up in an SUV, but for special wine club events we use our 136-year-old stagecoach.
I recently attended a Krupp Brothers tasting at Decanted Wines in Naples. Here are my tasting notes:
¦ Krupp Brothers The Doctor 2007 ($75): An interesting blend of merlot, tempranillo and malbec with some cabernet sauvignon. Opens with violets and lavender and earth followed onto the palate by black fruits, dark cocoa and mocha and a lingering finish.
¦ Veraison Synchrony 2007 ($72): Dark rich colors with fragrant floral notes and aromas of blackberry, vanilla and blueberry. The palate is layered with bright red fruits and mocha and leads to a long, lingering finish.
¦ Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach 2007 ($60): Aromas of spice and espresso bean lead to black currant, dark berries and a mineral edge, with a powerful yet elegant finish.
¦ Krupp Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($104): Deep purple color with a complex aroma of cassis, violets and chocolate. The palate is layered with dark black fruits, roasted coffee and black tea with a long, structured finish.
¦ Black Bart Syrah Stagecoach 2007 ($58): Deep garnet in color with aromas of blueberries and raspberries, with a complex palate of fruit and oak and a persistent finish. ¦