Carter Cellars

Cult Wine: Beckstoffer To-Kalon
Winemaker: Mike Smith
Proprietor: Mark Carter
Inaugural Vintage: 2000
Annual Production: 600 cases
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Napa Valley
Other Wines: Yes, Four
Estate Vineyard: No
Grape Source: Beckstoffer To-Kalon


Carter Cellars is the ultimate fruit of a world-class wine list born in Eureka California in the 1980s. Mark Carter, owner of the Carter House and Hotel Carter, whose Restaurant 301 boasts a Wine Spectator Grand Award, has compiled an incomparable list, from first growth Bordeaux to the finest California Cabernets to little known gems. Mark became famous for hosting winemaker dinners with the likes of Dan Duckhorn and star winemaker Nils Venge. When Mark decided to create his own label with the best fruit Napa had to offer, he partnered with Nils, winner of the first “perfect Parker score” for a domestic wine while at Groth in 1985. And so began another quest for excellence.

Carter Cellars first vintage, in 1998, sourced grapes from the steeply terraced Coliseum Block of the Hossfeld Vineyard. In 2000 Carter Cellars began a long and deeply rewarding relationship with the most iconic vineyard in the western hemisphere: the Beckstoffer portion of the original To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville. Hence the famed Carter Cellars Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet, a wine that to this day receives top scores from critics worldwide.

Carter Cellars currently sources grapes from four exceptional vineyards in Napa Valley: Beckstoffer's To Kalon, Hossfeld's Coliseum Block, the late Reg Oliver's Cabernet vineyard in St. Helena, and the Truchard's vineyards on the Napa side of the Los Carneros AVA. From the Beckstoffer To Kalon vineyard, Carter produces three world class Cabernet Sauvignons: "The O.G", "The Grand Daddy" and "The Three Kings", each sourced from its own block, with a combined production of just 600 cases.

In 2006, Mark and Nils founded Envy Winery on Tubbs Lane in Calistoga, now the permanent home of Carter Cellars. Under the watchful eye of winemaker Mike Smith, the hand-harvested grapes brought into the winery are hand-sorted, gently pressed and stored after fermentation in new French Oak for twenty-two months.

As Carter Cellars continues to create great wines from some of the best vineyard sites in Napa, Mark finds his time increasingly split between his inspirational hotel/restaurant and his winery. He has one of the longest commutes around, but does it gratefully knowing that dedication and constant attention to detail bring satisfaction to those who drink his wine and enjoy his hospitality. Carter Cellar's 2002 Beckstoffer To Kalon was recently awarded 100 POINTS by Robert Parker in his 10 year Napa Restrospective and has certainly earned pride of place on Carter's own lovingly-tended wine list.

Winery Website

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