May 2017 – Ann Colgin is the owner-vintner at Colgin Cellars in St Helena, Napa Valley, which produces top-flight Cabernets that are world renowned and only available in select restaurants or on allocation through an exclusive mailing list.
Ann and her husband, Joe Wender (a connoisseur of French wines and a California Cabernet convert) are known for the fabulous parties they throw. So it was only fitting that I met Ann at a wonderful wine dinner hosted by Rati and Dhruv Sawhney for Delhi’s wine cognoscenti at the Longchamp restaurant of the Taj Mahal hotel where the wines were classic Colgin. The Taj chef produced a superb meal on par with the wines which included 100-pointer Colgin 1997, of which only 400 cases were made and a Bordeaux inspired blend, Colgin 2001 “Cariad” in magnum.
What were your interests as a young woman and where did you spend your formative years?
I grew up in Texas with parents that loved good food and entertaining and greatly valued education. I was fortunate enough to attend a prestigious boarding school in Dallas and fell in love with art history after taking my first class there. That interest took me to Sotheby’s in London after graduating from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. While studying in London I discovered fine wine by attending Sotheby’s wine tastings. It was the beginning of a life-long education and passion.
A former art and antique dealer, what drew you to wine professionally? How did you make the shift? I fell in love with Napa Valley cabernets and wanted to learn more about the region. So I started spending summers in St Helena and discovered the generosity and spirit of the people there. That led me to want to produce my own wine and become a part of the community.
The house and vineyard at Tychson Hill were in bad repair. Why did you buy it? I was attracted to this site by the rocky Aiken soil and the ideal east-facing orientation of the gently sloping land. The fact that the land originally belonged to the first female vintner in Napa Valley was an added bonus! I am proud that I was able to restore the prestigious history of the property.
What were your reasons for investing in a vineyard in Burgundy? My husband and I both adore the wines of Burgundy for their sense of place, elegance and texture. With our interest in Camille Giroud, a negotiant in Beaune, we have been able to further explore our love of the region and the wines. What we have learned there has greatly influenced our efforts at Colgin Cellars where we showcase distinctive vineyard sites and focus on perfume, minerality and silkiness, along with the luscious rich fruit of Napa Valley.
How did Colgin Cellars produce outstanding wine in such a short time? Are you involved in the production? Our exceptional hillside vineyard sites are critical to our success but it is really the people at Colgin Cellars that are most important, from our dedicated and focused vineyard crew and vineyard manager David Abreu, to the talented winemaking team lead by Allison Tauziet along with our marketing and office staff and COO Paul Roberts. I am so thrilled to work with all of them very closely to pursue my dream of making wines that are considered amongst the best in the world. I have a very hands-on approach and am actively involved at harvest time, with blending decisions and marketing efforts around the world.
Which wines do you and your husband generally drink at home, other than your own? My husband, Joe and I are fortunate to have a very large cellar to choose from. It is a nightly ritual to pick wines for dinner and we often choose white Burgundy to begin, followed by red Burgundy, Rhône or, of course, a Napa Valley cabernet.
It was wonderful meeting you in Delhi. Was this your first visit to India?
No, we had a fabulous trip in 2012 to Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, and Mumbai. We fell in love with India and can’t wait to return again.
How do you view the Indian wine market? We have really enjoyed meeting so many knowledgeable and enthusiastic wine lovers in India and I think the Indian market will continue to grow as more people learn about the joys of wine.
This interview first appeared in Issue 3, May-June 2017, of Sommelier India wine magazine.