Grape Expectations

The pastoral splendor of Napa Valley’s expansive vistas attracts over four and a half million visitors annually. The area’s uniquely relaxed aura, rusticluxe hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, and cult wineries surely bring delight and solace to all who make the journey. Some would go even further, perhaps imagining themselves settling and leading the life of the country vintners, yet the notion is quickly dismissed as fantasy; the life of a winemaker requires an unfathomable devotion of time and resources. When Henry and Olga Patland visited the region over 25 years ago they, like many tourists, were enamored with the region’s incomparable blend of beauty and history, and vowed to return.

Ukrainian immigrants of Russian descent, the Patlands came to the United States in 1978. After a yearlong stint in Miami, they made California their family home. Henry obtained an engineering degree from UC Santa Cruz and during that time the Patlands visited Napa regularly, dreaming about and envisioning their own winery. They frequented a small vineyard where the owner himself poured tastings for visitors and, over the years, witnessed its transformation from a small, dark cellar into a magnificent estate; the Patlands were deeply inspired. After Henry found success in the high tech data storage industry—the American dream fulfilled at last—the Patlands turned their sights back upon the vocation that had always captured their hearts, winemaking. They began searching for the right location; there were, after all, many to choose from. It was only after several years of comprehensive research and visiting countless estates that they came upon the perfect property.

A rugged mountain landscape swathed in chaparral, oaks, and succulents forms a seemingly inhospitable yet ideal backdrop to what would become an oenophile’s oasis. Sitting atop a terraced plateau, nestled amongst the grapevines, is a trio of Tuscan-style houses aptly named “Terra del Cuore” (Italian for “Land of the Heart”). The grand view afforded by this perch sweeps miles across southern Napa Valley and as far as San Pablo Bay and Mt. Diablo. Visiting the property, the Patlands were amazed by the beauty of the grounds. The pomegranate trees that dotted the lands reminded them of their native Ukraine where the fruits were highly desired during the cold fall season. The Mediterranean style of the grounds was speckled with olive trees, cypresses, and oleander. Fruit trees, flowerbeds, and grape vines grew abundantly from every crevice and amid the fountains and sculptures. Here thrived a sense of contemplative serenity and endless possibilities. Henry and Olga had finally found the ideal property to found their estate.

The Patlands acquired Terra del Cuore in 2007 from then-owner Jack Daniels of Wilson Daniels, who was relocating to Cabo San Lucas. Henry and Olga wasted no time and set about making their mark upon the Valley. They recruited Jay Buoncristiani as head winemaker; previously he’d held the same position at the Hess Collection for five years. Having formally anointed Patland Estate Vineyards, the team began experimenting with different grapes and blends. At that time, the property had hosted Sangeiovese, Merlot, and Petite Syrah vines. Those grapes went into the Patland Proprietary Red Wine, resulting in a unique ruby blend, rich in aromas of red berries, clove, vanilla, cigar, and nutmeg. With an elegantly soft, satin-like finish, this particular combination was exclusive to the 2007 production. Later, Henry’s preference for “big, heavy Napa cabs” lead to a production of the Patland Cabernet Sauvignon, which was praised for its richness and range of flavours. Both Patland’s Proprietary Red Wine and Cabernet have received impressive 93-point reviews from Wine Spectator.

In 2008, on returning from the wine country of Argentina and Chile and following the advice of head winemaker Buoncristiani, the decision was made to convert the vines present on the property into Malbec. The estate’s unique climate, location, and soil were ideal for the consistent production of a rich Malbec blend. It was also in Argentina that the estate’s label and branding began to take form. Eldest son Michael Patland looked to many classical marquees, and echoing the family’s humble beginnings, the design began as a sketch on a napkin. Michael was particularly inspired by the artwork in their home and today a swatch of their favourite painting flanks the Patland Estate Vineyards label. Indeed, every member of the Patland family has been involved in aspects of the vineyard’s conception, refurbishment, and daily operation. Olga’s artwork can be seen in the hallways and twins Kevin and Felix help with tours of the extensive property. The family’s stories, travels, and inspired way of life have begun to intertwine with the history and future of the property itself.

Amongst the establishment in Napa Valley, Patland Estate Vineyards reminds us that newcomers are never to be underestimated. Having already garnered several awards and attracted the attention of keen wine aficionados, the relatively young vineyard has truly bright prospects ahead. Their limited productions yield rare wines with handcrafted artisanal bouquets, rife with character. In keeping with the determination that has brought them to this point, Henry and Olga are not content to rest on their laurels. Their deep passion for winemaking and desire to pass on a remarkable legacy to their children is revealed through the vineyard’s constant innovation and improvement, aided by the outstanding talent they have recruited along the way. A genuine David amongst goliaths, Patland Estate Vineyards stands as a hidden treasure, waiting to be savored and appreciated by the adventuring connoisseur.

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