May 2017 â€“ Ann Colgin is the owner-vintner at Colgin Cellars in St Helena, Napa Valley,Â which produces top-flight Cabernets that are world renowned and only available in selectÂ 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)Â are known for the fabulous parties they throw. So it was only fitting that I met Ann at a wonderful wineÂ dinner hosted by Rati and Dhruv Sawhney for Delhiâ€™s wine cognoscenti at the Longchamp restaurantÂ of the Taj Mahal hotel where the wines were classic Colgin. The Taj chef produced a superb meal onÂ par with the wines which included 100-pointer Colgin 1997, of which only 400 cases were made and aÂ Bordeaux inspired blend, Colgin 2001 â€œCariadâ€ in magnum.
What were your interests as a young womanÂ and where did you spend your formative years?Â
I grew up in Texas with parents that lovedÂ good food and entertaining and greatly valuedÂ education. I was fortunate enough to attend aÂ prestigious boarding school in Dallas and fellÂ in love with art history after taking my firstÂ class there. That interest took me to Sothebyâ€™sÂ in London after graduating from VanderbiltÂ University in Nashville, Tennessee. WhileÂ studying in London I discovered fine wine byÂ attending Sothebyâ€™s wine tastings. It was theÂ beginning of a life-long education and passion.
A former art and antique dealer, what drew you to wine professionally? How did you makeÂ the shift?Â Â I fell in love with Napa Valley cabernetsÂ and wanted to learn more about the region. So I started spending summers in St HelenaÂ and discovered the generosity and spirit ofÂ the people there. That led me to want toÂ 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 landÂ originally belonged to the first female vintnerÂ in Napa Valley was an added bonus! I amÂ proud that I was able to restore the prestigious history of the property.
What were your reasons for investing in aÂ vineyard in Burgundy?Â My husband and I both adore the wines ofÂ Burgundy for their sense of place, eleganceÂ and texture. With our interest in CamilleÂ Giroud, a negotiant in Beaune, we haveÂ been able to further explore our love ofÂ the region and the wines. What we haveÂ learned there has greatly influenced ourÂ efforts at Colgin Cellars where we showcaseÂ distinctive vineyard sites and focus onÂ perfume, minerality and silkiness, along withÂ the luscious rich fruit of Napa Valley.
How didÂ Colgin Cellars produce outstanding wineÂ in such a short time? Are you involved in the production?Â Our exceptional hillside vineyard sites areÂ critical to our success but it is really the peopleÂ at Colgin Cellars that are most important, from our dedicated and focused vineyardÂ crew and vineyard manager David Abreu, toÂ the talented winemaking team lead by AllisonÂ Tauziet along with our marketing and officeÂ staff and COO Paul Roberts. I am so thrilledÂ to work with all of them very closely to pursueÂ my dream of making wines that are consideredÂ amongst the best in the world. I have a veryÂ hands-on approach and am actively involvedÂ at harvest time, with blending decisions andÂ marketing efforts around the world.
Which wines do youÂ and your husband generally drink at home, other than your own?Â My husband, Joe and I are fortunate to have a veryÂ large cellar to choose from. It is a nightly ritual toÂ pick wines for dinner and we often choose whiteÂ Burgundy to begin, followed by red Burgundy,Â RhÃ´ne or, of course, a Napa Valley cabernet.
It was wonderful meeting you in Delhi. Was this yourÂ first visit to India?
No, we had a fabulous trip in 2012 to Delhi,Â Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur,Â and Mumbai. We fellÂ in love with India and canâ€™t wait to return again.
How do you view the Indian wine market?Â We have really enjoyed meeting so manyÂ knowledgeable and enthusiastic wine loversÂ in India and I think the Indian market willÂ continue to grow as more people learn aboutÂ the joys of wine.
This interview first appeared in Issue 3, May-June 2017, of Sommelier India wine magazine.