We came to Napa Valley in March of 1997, purchasing 48 acres of steep wooded property on the north slope of Diamond Mountain in Calistoga. We found the property on the internet, an old private boys school that had fallen into disrepair. We made an offer, prayed we would get it and then "oh no!' We got it. Everything needed repair, especially the water system encased not in pvc or iron pipe, but some obscure polyethylene rubber that produced ongoing leaks that would drain our holding tank leaving us without water till fixed. We called it a project. Our friends called us crazy. "You must be out of your mind" the guys told me. "You're so brave" Treva's girl friends sympathized.
I'm a third generation San Franciscan, whose dad Tommy Harris was a famous entertainer/restaurant owner and acknowledged city character. He and my mom were married as teens, running away to Reno with 50 dollars borrowed from Meridth Wilson who produced the Radio Show "The Happy Go Lucky Gang" in San Francisco. He would later strike it rich with his musical "The Music Man." These were the days when radio was king. The 1930's with big bands, stage shows and intimate night clubs, was an exciting time to be alive. World War Two was on the horizon and Vegas was still a sand box.
Treva grew up in Columbus, Ohio. A midwest girl with values and sensibilities from our country's heartland that would help her survive "the project." We met at a 49er game in 1973. There are many different versions of who fell in love first, but regardless, after 32 years of marriage it's still a love affair. I spent lots of time when I was growing up, in Napa Valley. My dad loved the hot springs in Calistoga and our family had a country home in Glen Ellen over on the Sonoma side during the war. Food and wine were always topics of conversation in our house, and we spent a lot of time with our dad at his night club "The House of Harris," when we could talk him into taking us. Treva came to California in 1970, an Ohio State Buckeye who loved the weather and lifestyle so much she never went back. By the time we met she had already developed a taste for fine wine and gourmet cooking while raising two children.
I retired in 2005 after 32 years as a pediatric dentist in Silicon Valley. I always said that after 32 years of beating up little kids anyone could use a great glass of wine. I never thought we would be the ones making it. Making wine was never part of our original plan, but after having our soils tested we were told we had to plant vines because the soils were so outstanding. We decided to plant three separate vineyards with french clone cabernet sauvignon. With the help of our vineyard manager Michael Black, and Paul Hobbs purchasing our first available crop, we knew we were on the right track.
Wine maker Mark Herold came into our lives after being recommended by our friends Peter and Paulette Story from St. Helena Winery. Mark walked Treva's hillside vineyard and said," If I can't make great wine from this fruit you should fire me!" So began Harris Estate Vineyards. At this stage in our lives we want to make great wines, life is too short to drink bad wine. Judging from the response to our first release, the 2002 vintage, we are close to reaching our goals. A 94 rating from Robert Parker and hundreds of e-mails praising our wines have us very thankful and excited. Our wines are all terroir driven. Our three beautiful vineyards are each unique, producing distinctive fruit. Our wines will always be an expression of our land. Our project is now almost complete and is becoming a part of many lives. People who visit us, taste our wines and let us know how much they enjoy them are creating fond memories and great new friends. That's what it is all about.
Cheers and Thanks so much,
Mike and Treva Harris