Schrader Cellars: The Importance

Founded in 1998 by Fred Schrader, this boutique winery in Napa produces some of the most highly praised and coveted Cabernet Sauvignon in the world. In the words of Robert Parker: “these are profoundly great, world-class wines. If you can find any, don’t hesitate to buy them – you won’t regret it.”


A wide range of wines are produced at Schrader Cellars. The most prominent of these is Old Sparky Cabernet Sauvignon, which owner Fred Schrader considers his top cuvee. The Old Sparky is made of a blend of two clones of Cabernet Sauvignon (Clones 6 and 337) and aged in 100% new French oak for approximately 20 months and only produced in magnum format. It has received multiple 100 point ratings from Robert Parker, and no vintage rated by him has received fewer than 95 points, a remarkable achievement in consistency. It is difficult to single out the best vintage, as they all perform so well, however 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2013 all received 100 points, with Parker describing the 2013 vintage as “tasting like a first-growth Pauillac.”


However the Old Sparky is just one of Schrader’s wines: also in the lineup are a number of others, including the Colesworthy, GIII, LPV, Rutherford, Calistoga, Aston Estate and Double Diamond. Not all of these wines are made in all years and quantities are usually small, making them highly desirable to collectors.


With the other wines produced, this estate has received eighteen 100 point ratings at the time of writing from the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator, including for the CSS Cabernet Sauvignon and the Beckstoffer Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, with many more surely to come in the future. As Parker writes, “there doesn’t appear to be a hotter Cabernet Sauvignon producer in the New World than this small boutique winery.”


Schrader Cellars: The Insight

The purpose of the wines created at this estate, is to showcase different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, displaying both the character of each clone with as little human intervention as possible and how different clones can perform within a single vineyard site. Some of their wines are also made up of fruit from single blocks within single vineyards, highlighting the variety that can exist even within clones.


Schrader Estate produces several different bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon including the RBS made from a single clone (Clone 337), the CCS, a blend of two clones (Clone 337 and 4) and the T6 made up of a single clone (Clone 6), amongst others.


The focus at Schrader Cellars is on Cabernet Sauvignon, although the estate also produces Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. Much of the fruit for their wines comes from the famous Beckstoffer Vineyards, and primarily from the acclaimed To Kalon vineyard. Orginally planted in 1860’s, “To Kalon” comes from the Greek meaning ‘the beautiful’. Schrader Cellars paved the way for winemaker’s to use the name of the To Kalon vineyard on their labels, as up until the year 2000 only wine produced by Mondavi could bear the name on their labels. Schrader Cellar’s use of the name led to a lawsuit, the settlement of which meant that winemaker’s who purchased their grapes from this famous estate could now freely use the name on their bottles.


The style of wine produced at Schrader Cellars is extremely ripe and fruit forward, however it differentiates itself from the majority of winemakers in Napa Valley with its focus on the purity of fruit. The wines are extremely powerful, and yet remain elegant, and though they will age for 15-20 years with ease, they can also be enjoyed in their youth.


Schrader Cellars: The Background

Founder Fred Schrader initially thought up the idea to start a winery when he attended the Napa Valley Wine Auction in 1988. A few years later, the Colgin-Schrader Cellars was born, a partnership between Schrader and his then wife Ann Colgin. Their first wine was produced in 1992. After the dissolution of their marriage, Fred Schrader founded Schrader Cellars in 1998 and hired famed winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown as winemaker and consultant, who has worked at the estate ever since. 

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2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Old Sparky Schrader Cellars California


2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Old Sparky California


2009 Cabernet Sauvignon RBS To Kalon Schrader Cellars


2009 Cabernet Sauvignon RBS To Kalon


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