When Brian Cunat, owner of Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards, was asked to describe the first 10 years for his winery in one word, he quickly responded with “It’s been a ‘rush.”
However, after discussing the immense changes he, his wife and his daughters have brought to the Oak Knoll District-based vineyard, his daughter Neena mentioned that maybe “rush” was not the word, but rather “transformation.”
When the Cunat family first bought the 50-acre property, the land was only growing merlot. Now the land grows three white wines — sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and viognier — as well as four reds — merlot, malbec, syrah and petite verdot.
Yet just increasing the type of wines that the vineyard can produce is not the only transformation Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards has experienced over the last 10 years. In addition, the Cunat family has focused the bulk of its energy on incorporating the best technology for making wines.
In fact, the winery even has a full-time enologist to monitor wine chemistries. With a special system to monitor room temperatures for the fermentation process, along with humidity and carbon dioxide, the winery takes special care balancing technology with the production of their wine. To Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards, energy efficiency and great wine-making go hand-in-hand.
While the winery is committed to creating the best wines possible, in taste and in process, Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards is guided by the family’s dedication to the people and wildlife surrounding them.
“We try to be a very good steward with our neighbors,” Brian said. “We didn’t come to Napa to be disruptive. To kick people out of their comfort zone. We came to fit in and to actually add to the great history of this valley. Obviously, we came here to make great wine and that’s a big part of what we are doing. But also to really fit in and be a part of the neighborhood.”
In a concerted effort to be as environmentally sustainable as possible, Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards has been working towards becoming certified as a Napa Green Winery by Napa County Department of Public Works and the California Green Business Program. Their power is completely generated by solar panels. They choose to use biodegradable chemicals and natural oils for the land, as well as only using water that comes from the property and recycling it for use again. To keep the namesake of the land, they recently planted 18 Oak Knoll trees they hope to grow with the winery’s reputation over the years.
As for wildlife, the Cunat family has placed owl houses on their property to help fight off rodents, saying “it’s nice to have an owl to take away a rodent, than having to poison a rodent. It’s more natural and a better way to go.”
Although Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards has accomplished many things in their still young history, Brian feels there is still more to do.
“We’re hoping to build the brand. We really anticipate the brand to continue to grow. This past year we bought 20 more acres. So now we are at 70. Still, pretty small in the world of big wineries. But I don’t want to be a big winery, I want to be a great family winery that produces a great wine.”
Seeing how far Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards has come in just a short time, it’s hard to imagine that this winery will not have a lasting legacy for the next ten years. Coupling the wineries family-first mentality, progressive environmental policies, and an already excellent set of wine, there is no doubt the Cunat family’s long-term goals will continue to be realized as they expand.