Last updated on February 29, 2020
Life takes many twists and turns, and for many winemakers, their career beginnings drove them down quite a different path. Besides the approach to winemaking, it is this past that can also define the future of their style of winemaking and especially true for Tony Arcudi, Arcudi Wines.
Being of Italian descent, Tony grew up in a family where food played an important role in his daily life. This interest in food advanced to include wine.
At that time, life had a different course for Tony. Although he was not a test taker, he got himself accepted as a submarine naval engineer onboard the Alexander Hamilton. After five patrols, Tony became an instructor for seven years. Following that Tony became a product manager for IBM and twenty years later felt his life was not fulfilled.
Having a love for food and wine, this passion overtook him. At 38 years of age, Tony decided to take a leap of faith and make a drastic change in his life. Packing up his bags, he left Boston and moved to Napa Valley in 2001.
Tony was not a great student in high school, so the challenge was finding a way to get to UC Davis. The answer was enrolling in Napa Valley College. It shows that students with the so-so grades that have determination and drive can excel when they want to. For Tony, after 2.5 years he was accepted in UC Davis Enology School, but the coo was he received a Regents Scholarship.
Following graduation, Tony received a fellowship from the International Wine & Food Society to travel to France to train under M. Chapoutier. Upon his return, he was at a function where Winemaker, Heidi Barrett was also attending. The two met and over a discussion on submarines. It turns out Heidi’s father was also on a submarine. With similar winemaking philosophies, this chance meeting landed Tony him a job as an assistant on one of her new projects.
Tony’s philosophy is “let the vineyard speak for itself as the winemaker is the conduit.” He is what he calls a “simple winemaker.” When meeting Tony, one will find him very modest. Although he is humble, his wine has a lot to same but with subtle nuances.
When asked why Cabernet, Tony response was “When in Napa Cabernet is the best. Like a chef, you want the best ingredient.” To Tony, Cabernet Sauvignon is the foremost component.
Like Tony’s demure, the label for his wine is very simple. On the back of the label is sword and the words Nic Spe, Nec Metu. The words me no hope, no fear. Basically, you have got nothing to loose. The significance of the sword is it is the sword of Caravaggio. For Tony, it is a summation of what he did when he gave up his career back east to forge a new path in Napa. He had nothing to loose by making this move.
Now in his 15th year in Napa, Tony has his own wine label, Arcudi Wines and his first release is the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Sears Vineyard Howell Mountain, Napa Valley. The Black Sears Vineyard is the highest on Howell Mountain. The vineyard is dry farmed both organically and biodynamically. The Arcudi Cabernet is rich and velvety yet earthy with a complex textural quality. The aromas are licorice and blackberry pie. The flavors are stewed fruit, plums, and blackberries. On the finish, one finds some hints of anise. The wine has fine tannins, not overly oaked, and is nicely balanced. Tony describes his wine as having “the ripeness of California and the structure of French wine.
The future holds a lot of promise for Tony Arcudi. He hopes to secure two more vineyards to create another single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. One is from Stagecoach Vineyard in Pritchard Hill. Another is from West Oakville Hill. What is exciting is that the vineyard owners are coming to him, offering their grapes to him. It is almost like what goes around comes around, especially when you paid your dues from the get-go.
Currently, the Arcudi Cabernet Sauvignon is sold directly from the winery to the consumer. If you happen to be in Napa, you definitely want to contact Tony and get your hands on some of his wine. Without a doubt, you will enjoy this exceptional wine.
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