Caymus Vineyards and the Wagner family
The Wagners have roots in Napa Valley dating back to the 1850s, with a long family history of grape growing and winemaking.
In 1972, Chuck Wagner started Caymus Vineyards with his late parents, Lorna and Charlie Wagner Sr. Working together for decades, they established Caymus Cabernet as one of the region’s most celebrated wines. Today, Chuck continues to produce two world-renowned Cabernet Sauvignons, Caymus Napa Valley and Caymus Special Selection.
In addition, Chuck is head of winemaking for Bonanza, a California Cabernet Sauvignon that celebrates the endless discovery of vineyard land throughout the state. He also produces Caymus-Suisun Grand Durif, a Petite Sirah from neighboring Suisun Valley. A “hidden gem” wine region only a short drive from Napa, Suisun has become the Wagners’ second home, with exceptional growing conditions for a range of varietals.
Endless exploration of California and the next generation
Since Caymus Vineyards was founded, the Wagner family has worked with the soils and climate of Napa Valley to develop techniques for farming grapes and producing fine wine. They are now applying those techniques to making a range of wines from other parts of California and beyond. Their winemaking business remains entirely family-run, and two of Chuck’s children, Charlie and Jenny Wagner, now work alongside him.
Chuck, Charlie and Jenny all feel extremely fortunate to be spending their days exploring California in pursuit of making extraordinary wine, year after year and generation after generation.
Charlie is the person behind Mer Soleil winery and vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands (within Monterey County). Through his passion and vision, the drama and rugged beauty of California’s central coast are reflected in his wines.
Charlie also leads Conundrum, which was inspired in the late ‘80s by his grandfather’s experiments at the dinner table. Mixing different varietals was unheard of back then, and Conundrum helped to ignite the now-popular blend category. In addition, Charlie leads Red Schooner – which now includes two “Red Wines of the World,” a Malbec made from grapes grown in Argentina and a red blend made from grapes grown in Australia.
While Charlie produces more expensive wines, he also has a strong interest in making good wines at affordable prices. Charlie launched Sea Sun, a $20 wine. Reflecting the state’s unique landscape, Sea Sun offers both a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from premier coastal regions, each holding broad appeal for a wide range of palates and pocketbooks.
Coming from a long line of farmers and winemakers on both maternal and paternal sides, Jenny Wagner “inherited” her avid love of farming. Dusty hands, pushing the boundaries in viticulture, and always experimenting with winemaking techniques will continue to be her advantage.
Jenny has created a distinguished and singular style in her Emmolo wines – Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sparkling. She also oversees production of hillside Zinfandel along with several experimental varieties planted under the Caymus-Suisun label in Suisun Valley, including Italian, French, and Greek varieties.
The Emmolo label is named after Jenny’s maternal side, who arrived in Napa Valley from Sicily in 1923. For many years, the Emmolos ran a rootstock nursery, providing grapevines to many of the state’s grapegrowers.
Now that the Wagners have expanded to Suisun Valley, Jenny has also become the winemaker for The Walking Fool Red Blend, named after her great-great grandfather Johannes Glos. The Walking Fool is the second of Caymus-Suisun’s flagship wines alongside Grand Durif. In addition, Jenny is actively involved in Suisun Valley, sitting on the board of the Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association.