The NVFF Vintner Circle is an elite group of Napa Valley wineries that pair directly with the festival’s exclusive Patron Circle. Unlike any other film festival, we connect our guests with top Napa Valley vintners to create the ultimate film, food, and wine experience. The NVFF Vintner Circle members host intimate dinners, late night parties, and pour at exclusive VIP receptions during the festival. Learn more about the wineries and wine collections that make up this elite group of vintners below.
Acumen was founded by Eric Yuan and his family in 2012. Denis Malbec and Henrik Poulson were part of the original winemaking team and in 2017 Henrik Poulsen was named winemaker and general manager of Acumen supported by a viticulture team of Steve Matthiasson (who was interim winemaker from 2016-2017) and Garrett Buckland. Acumen comprises 116 acres of vineyards, Attelas and Edcora Vineyards at the northern part of volcanic, iron-rich Atlas Peak. Acumen’s two tiers of wines, Mountainside and PEAK, can be tasted at Acumen’s Wine gallery in downtown Napa. The wine gallery is a chic urban space with a tasting room and an art gallery designed by the painter, Vincent Xeus, whose inaugural solo show adorns the walls.
In 2006, Michael Polenske left a career in finance to dive into Napa Valley’s world of wine, art and design. Polenske’s RiverHouse by Bespoke Collection is the destination to experience all things Bespoke. Centrally located in downtown Napa, guests can enjoy wine tasting experiences from Blackbird Vineyards and Resolute Wines and the opportunity to acquire Recuerdo wines, while being surrounded by a curated selection of fine art, antiquities, and objets d’art by ÆRENA Galleries & Gardens. Guests are offered one-of-a-kind concierge service upon request and access to exclusive experiences.
John Caldwell’s story is itself film-worthy. Stymied in his search for the world’s best clones and rootstock to begin his Napa vineyard, John took to smuggling—surreptitiously bringing in hundreds of coveted Bordeaux rootstocks. After being nabbed in his last run, Caldwell eluded Feds by eating receipts and burying vines. The result was a new vineyard that would revolutionize Napa viticulture when he began a nursery selling cuttings from his smuggled vines and imported rootstock. Today, John tends one of the most genetically diverse vineyards in the Valley and produces 25 different wines available only at the winery. Recently John became one of seven wineries worldwide making his own French barrels from wood harvested from trees he purchased in France. Caldwell Vineyard is the story of a maverick’s do-anything quest to make great wine.
Castellucci Napa Valley brings together Maria and Marco Castellucci’s passion of Italian lifestyle and hospitality. Ever since they were young, Maria and Marco’s father would tell them how he grew up in Italy and how their grandfather, Luigi Castellucci, made wine in his basement. When their father got into the wine business about 20 years ago, the siblings did not plan to make wine. Luckily, Maria and Marco’s father had the foresight at that time to carefully select special sites in Spring Mountain, in Rutherford, in Carneros and also at their home in St. Helena. From that point on, the family became a source of grapes for highly respected wineries in the Napa Valley. In 2012, Maria and Marco decided to use some of the grapes to begin bottling their own wines. They are immensely proud to continue the family tradition that started in a basement almost a century ago
Charles Krug Winery, founded by Prussian Immigrant Charles Krug, is Napa Valley’s oldest winery established in 1861. In 1882, Charles Krug opened the first tasting room in California at Charles Krug Winery. The winery itself is a registered National Historic Landmark. In 1943, years after Krug’s passing, the winery was purchased by the Mondavi family. This is where Napa Valley icon, Robert Mondavi got his start in the wine industry. Today, Charles Krug Winery is owned by Robert’s younger brother, Peter Mondavi. With over 150 years of winemaking, Charles Krug wines are made with incomparable wine knowledge.
Courage, commitment, an entrepreneurial spirit and a healthy measure of graciousness best describe Darioush Khaledi, who founded his namesake winery in 1997, with two guiding principles: to make world class wines from Southern Napa Valley and to elevate the standard of winery guest experience. As world travelers themselves, Darioush and his wife Shahpar’s vision is echoed in a deep commitment to hospitality at the winery estate on Silverado Trail. Taking cues from their Persian heritage, a visit to the winery calls on centuries-old traditions of going beyond one’s means to make guests feel more at home than home itself.
In 2011, the Davis family purchased a property with an old barn on it that dated back to 1916. They had a plan of restoring the barn and building a winery of their own. Mike Davis, who grew up south of San Francisco, was always very familiar and excited by Napa Valley and the wine industry. The Calistoga based winery uses its sustainable property and extensive technological strategy to produce high quality wine. With vines planted in Calistoga, Rutherford, Carneros, and Howell Mountain, Davis Estates produces a diverse portfolio of wines that exemplify the terrior of the Valley.
Co-founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976, Duckhorn Vineyards has established itself as an iconic Napa Valley producer. With a passion for quality and a commitment to selecting the finest fruit, the Duckhorns established the mentality that great wine begins with excellent vineyards. Since the inaugural 1978 vintage, the Duckhorn Portfolio has expanded to a collection of winery estates which includes Duckhorn Vineyards, Paraduxx (pictured right), Goldeneye, Migration Decoy and Canvasback. The portfolio’s vision is to create distinguished wines that are expressive of their unique terroir and microclimate as well as reflect a sense of place.
Founded by Ellie Anest, Aurelien Roulin, and Carol Vassiliadis, Eleven Eleven Wines celebrates the culture of wine, food, art and entertainment unlike any venue in the Wine Country. For wine enthusiasts, travelers, art lovers and friends, it offers an inviting tasting room experience and signature wines for purchase. Eleven Eleven symbolizes every surprising, awe-inspiring or fated moment that awaits us all. Together with renowned winemaker Kirk Venge the team has built a home for their wines delivered with an authentic, personalized touch. The name “Eleven Eleven” represents the meant-to-be moments in life that are worth celebrating. Just like looking at the clock at precisely 11:11 ad feeling something special, Eleven Eleven Wines is the expression and celebration of the idea that what is meant to be will be.
Grgich Hills Estate celebrates its 40th anniversary this year! Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich joined forces with Austin Hills of the Hills Bros. Coffee Co. family and broke ground on July 4, 1977. Mike had already drawn worldwide attention when the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that he crafted became the winner of the famous 1976 Judgement of Paris blind-tasting, beating the top French Burgundies and earning him the title “King of Chardonnay.” Known for a consistently superior level of quality, Grgich Hills’ wines are sought after by connoisseurs and celebrities as an indicator of prestige and good taste. Regarding his winemaking philosophy, Mike says, “I was taught to treat grapes and wines as if they were living things – like our children. Each vintage brings a new challenge to create the best wines of the future.”
Italics Winegrowers was recently founded by the Martin family, who ran a successful business in Texas that distributed citrus, melons and onions around the country. With regular visits to Napa for tastings, the family became acquainted with vintner Steve Reynolds. When they sold their Texas company they had the opportunity to buy Reynold’s wine collection called Appellations. Wanting to expand in the wine industry with their newly owned collection, the Martin family acquired over 70 acres in Coombsville and a cave winery in 2014. Since then, they have made improvements to the property and named Steve Reynolds the Italics winemaker. Due to the volcanic sediments and cooler climate of the Coombsville agricultural area, Italics wine offers unique flavors and history in every sip.
Owner of John Anthony Vineyards, John Anthony Truchard is a second-generation grape grower with a next-generation approach. John grew up in the vine rows of his parents’ property and loved the teaching and advice from his father and community of renowned Napa Valley pioneers. However, he knew early on that he wanted to chart his own course into the future of the wine business and started a vineyard management business in the mid-1990s. John’s experience tending some of wine country’s most prestigious vineyards allowed him to select prime locations to grow grape varieties best suited to the terroir. John’s meticulously-tended vineyard sites provide the fruit for John Anthony Vineyards — elegant, place-driven wines that celebrate the unique character of each grape and location.
Located in the heart of Yountville, Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley offers a unique lifestyle experience. A meticulously restored 1904 stone building on the National Register of historic places, this wine collective is a purveyor of boutique, limited production wines. Visitors to the tasting room and art gallery enjoy personally curated tasting experiences from a rotating collection of artisan wines from over 25 California vintners. The outdoor gardens are beautifully landscaped around architectural remnants and contemporary sculptures, making Ma(i)sonry the perfect destination to explore, relax, and experience wine country.
Materra, which loosely translates to “mother earth” in Latin, is all about family, the environment and Napa Valley heritage. It’s been ten years since Brian Cunat purchased the Oak Knoll land for Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards. Since the purchase in 2007, Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards has completely transformed the land to produce quality wine that echoes the terroir of the Oak Knoll agricultural region.
The Raymond family came to Napa Valley in 1933. They purchased the estate property, located in Rutherford, in 1970 and proceeded to release their first wine in 1974. The hard work and production from the Raymond family and their original 90-acre estate has made Raymond a Napa Valley icon. Today, Raymond Vineyards is owned by Jean-Charles Boisset who is known for taking wineries to new levels while maintaining their historical roots. He did just that with Raymond after he purchased it in 2009. He brought on an impressive team including Director of Winemaking, Stephanie Putnam and Vineyard Manager, Sophie Drucker. Under the Boisset team, Raymond has received “Winery of the Year” honors from Wine Enthusiast and is a must-see destination for a unique, entertaining, and educational tasting experience.
Reynolds Family Winery is a small boutique family owned and operated winery in the Napa Valley. Steve Reynolds, winemaker, produces expressive wines that are representative of their native appellation. He starts with implementing meticulous vineyard practices and progressive winemaking techniques, resulting in fruit‐forward wines that are soft and approachable, yet complex.
Rombauer Vineyards was established by Koerner and Joan Rombauer. The Rombauer family continues to seek out the finest vineyard sites for each varietal it farms. The quality and character of Rombauer wines combine traditional and cutting-edge practices. Rombauer’s St. Helena winery is set high on a tree-covered knoll just off Silverado Trail. It features a lovely porch with stunning views of the Mayacamas Mountains, a garden with over 100 varieties of plants, whimsical works of art and wine caves. Rombauer is known for warm hospitality, a friendly staff, and a cozy tasting room.
Visiting Tamber Bey is like nothing else in the Napa Valley. The winery is located in Calistoga, at a world-class equestrian facility called Sundance Ranch. The ranch is home to owners Barry and Jennifer Waitte’s endurance horses and Sunrise Horse Rescue. The tasting room is in the barn clubhouse that was designed by renowned Napa Valley architect Howard Backen. Stables surround the beautiful garden courtyard. Guests can sit in the luxurious outdoor lounges, savor Tamber Bey’s artisan wines and delicious savory/sweet cookies, mingle with the horses and enjoy stunning views of Mount St. Helena and the Palisades.
The Hess Collection was founded by Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess, who first purchased vineyards on Mount Veeder in 1978. Located in the historic stone winery originally constructed in 1903 by Colonel Theodore Gier, the winery first opened to the public in 1989. The Hess Collection has earned international recognition for its wine, culinary, and visitor programs while providing free public access to Donald Hess’ extensive private contemporary Art Collection. Known as a leader in sustainable practices, The Hess Collection adheres to founder Donald Hess’ philosophy: “Nurture the land; return what you take.” The Hess Collection is best known for its flagship Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines and single vineyard designates from its estate vineyards in Napa Valley.
The philosophy at VGS Chateau Potelle is to make quality with excellence, but without the pretension that is often associated with the wine industry. In 1980, Jean-Noël Fourmeaux du Sartel came to Napa as a “wine spy” for Bordeaux France. After only six months in California, he decided to stay and open a winery. In 2007 Jean-Noel went on a “trek of a lifetime” in India. He came back, rebranded Chateau Potelle, and started producing “very good shit,” hence the new winery’s name, VGS Chateau Potelle. Jean-Noel, now the wine stylist at VGS Chateau Potelle, describes wine as “another spice to food.” The tasting room offers culinary pairings that complement their small production of up-scale wines.