Emmolo is the name of my mom’s side of the family, which has a long farming history in Napa Valley. My mom, Cheryl Emmolo, has no brothers and wanted to keep the name alive. She dreamed of making wine using family vineyards, and I feel very fortunate that she passed the reins on to me. When I showed my first wine (produced in 2011) to my grandparents, it was very emotional for all of us.
“Wine is an experience, and I want it to be special. I want people to feel as excited as I am.”
— Jenny Wagner, winemaker
There really is no typical day. The work changes with the seasons and you have to constantly adapt. It’s your job to turn out a great wine no matter what Mother Nature hands you. Fall is the most exciting time as we harvest the grapes. Even though the days are long, the Valley is lively. The smell of pomace is in the air, and everyone is on a harvest high.
With some decisions, there’s no going back, like deciding when to pick the grapes during harvest. I remember during my first harvest a number of years ago, I asked my dad for advice. He said, “Well, good luck with that,” pushing me to figure it out for myself. I’m so grateful, because I gained the confidence to make my own mark as a winemaker.
My grandparents Frank and Annie Emmolo are a constant reminder to enjoy life’s good moments. My mom, Cheryl Emmolo, has inspired me to be a go-getter. And my dad, Chuck Wagner, who founded Caymus Vineyards with my grandparents, has taught me you never stop learning. I’ve also watched both of my brothers, Charlie and Joe, become successful winemakers. We all constantly push to get better and better at what we do.
When a Merlot is good, it’s really good – rich, round, earthy and expressive, with ripe fruit character. It can also have soft tannins that leave a gritty texture on the palate. My goal is to create a luxurious, dark and balanced wine. And nothing makes me happier than when people tell me that Emmolo helped them see Merlot in a new light.
This wine is more minerality-driven than fruit-driven. Not grassy or overly ripe, it features delicate fruit flavors and steely, mineral notes. Starting with the 2019 vintage, our grapes come from Napa Valley and Suisun Valley, a “hidden gem” only 30 minutes from Napa that shares a similar maritime climate and produces exceptional wine. We harvest the fruit at just the right moment to achieve firm acidity and low alcohol.
Grapes for this wine are sourced from vineyards in Napa Valley, including land which has been in my family for generations. We seek out areas with light gravelly soil and ideal growing conditions that enable longer “hang time” for the grapes to achieve full ripeness. We also utilize techniques like crop thinning to produce a rich, distinctive Merlot. This wine is lush and supple on the palate, with expansive, dark berry flavors, a fresh earthiness and smooth, leathery tannins.
With a richly developed character inspired by our favorite Champagnes, our No. 4 bottling is a blend of 59% Chardonnay and 41% Pinot Noir, produced on Méthode Traditionelle. This wine is sourced from cooler coastal regions of California and is non-vintage, affording greater ability to achieve our desired style. Features soft bubbles and freshness that yields to creaminess from extended aging.
A Special Release
Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
This reserve Sauvignon Blanc — produced only in a 1-liter bottle — results from an experiment in the vineyard, by which we use a brush to remove more than half the grapes on every cluster. A labor-intensive process, this technique ensures that the remaining grapes receive abundant and equal sunlight, enabling us to harvest earlier and achieve a unique flavor profile in the wine. This wine features unusually lively acidity but no herbaceous quality, balanced by creamy roundness.
We’d love to see you at Caymus Vineyards — the family winery where you can taste Emmolo and a diverse range of wines made by Chuck, Charlie and Jenny Wagner.
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