Schrader Cellars is one of Napa’s cult names. It focuses on pairing specific clones with the perfect site to produce the ultimate expression of Napa Cabernet.
The results regularly receive the very highest scores from critics, with 19 100-point scores from the Wine Advocate to date.
The winery was started by Fred Schrader. Originally an antiques dealer, he fell for Napa’s charms attending the Napa Valley Wine Auction in 1988. He established a winery with his then-wife Ann Colgin (now of Colgin Cellars), setting out to make world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2000 he tasted a barrel sample of Cabernet
from the Beckstoffer To Kalon vineyard in Oakville: he knew he had found something special, and started working to secure grapes from this lauded site. The same year he met Thomas Rivers Brown, a young enthusiastic winemaker working in
the local wine shop. He’d never made Cabernet before, but Fred Schrader trusted his instincts and hired him anyway. It wasn’t a decision he’d regret. The 2002 vintage of Old Sparky – a blend of the finest Cabernet barrels in the Schrader cellar – was the first of their wines to receive 100 points from Wine Advocate, with many more perfect scores following.
Schrader doesn’t own any vineyards, but works with some of the most prestigious sites in the valley – including Beckstoffer To Kalon, Georges III, Dr Crane and Las Piedras. Stylistically, the wines are immense, opulent and plushly textured, with purity of fruit and fine silky tannins, underpinned by an elegant power. With a total production of between 2,500 to 4,000 cases each year, there is a huge queue to join the Schrader mailing list and never enough of the wines to go around.
The winery was sold to Constellation Brands in 2017, although nothing has changed in terms of the day-to-day management of the winery – with Schrader and Rivers Brown still
at the helm.