Jake Krausz is the Estate Director of Arkenstone Vineyards – producing highly rated reds and whites from premium Howell Mountain fruit – Jake turned his passion for quality & his refined palate toward the pursuit of a rosé that can stand with and next to California’s great wines.
With the goal of producing the best wine possible from this beautiful site, they chose to become a true Domain Estate, where the underground winery, completed in 2008, along with the Estate vineyards planted primarily in 1998, allow them total control over all aspects of winemaking. In making this decision, they were thinking foundationally and long term, taking into account the stewardship that would be necessary to support thriving vineyards and a healthy ecosystem throughout the ranch for many years to come.
You will hear winemakers say that paying attention to detail is critical, but Sam Kaplan, Arkenstone Winemaker takes it to another level. In the caves at Arkenstone, he has the luxury to do just that. In 2006, Sam met Ron and Susan Krausz and was offered the opportunity to help create their dream –a new winery called Arkenstone up on a spectacular shoulder property of Howell Mountain.
As Winemaker and overseer of the vineyards, Sam maintains the integrity and quality of Arkenstone wine. The depth, complexity, and balance of the wines are evidence of the tremendous breadth of his abilities. Passionate about organic farming, he loves spending time walking the vineyards with the crews, taking note of the tiniest details that ultimately shape each vintage. The maxim that Sam lives by: “Make the best damn wine possible and have fun doing it.”
They produce and offer only one wine. Memento Mori is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California, sourced from only the best vineyards and the wine is made by one of the most talented young winemakers on the planet, Sam Kaplan. Their singular mission is to craft the absolute best product possible. “We will never cut corners. Ever.”
They researched grape sources for Memento Mori over the course of three years. Knowing that land is the key to quality, they considered buying a vineyard. But they listened to the varied experiences of some of the best vineyard managers, farmers, and winemakers, and their path to creating a wine of unique and extraordinary caliber became clear: they would select and source from the best sites.
They now source from four of the absolute best vineyards in all of Napa Valley. All vetted over time, technique and by other elite producers. In St. Helena, they chose two Beckstoffer Vineyards (Dr. Crane and Las Piedras). In Oakville, they chose Weitz Vineyard and Oakville Ranch. Each stands on its own and has consistently been the source behind many legendary wines. Momento Mori blends their unique characteristics–elegance, power, finish, and longevity–to create a perfectly balanced wine that seduces the palate year after year.
Adam Craun is an artist and entreprenuer who has come to appreciate the work and tenacity demanded by a life in pursuit of passion. He is the creative force behind the Memento Mori brand. At Boston University with Hayes, he was a top athlete on the swim team as well as a talented student of art and music, performing in a popular band. After college, unable to support himself through art alone, he went into a successful career in IT sales and management. His passion for producing the world’s greatest wine is both relentless and unwavering. He likes to be everywhere at all times. When he is not traveling the world and showcasing our wine, he regularly completes in road races, open water swims, and triathlons in his “spare” time. And like the other two founders, is highly involved in charitable work.
Sam Kaplan, in his winemaking career, has been on the ground floor of some of Napa Valley’s most exciting wine projects in recent history, helping to plant vineyards, build wineries and cement reputations with wines that speak of the unparalleled sites in which they’re grown.
Nancy, as a chef, spent years in top restaurants in New York and Napa Valley, honing her craft and her palate beside celebrated chefs who demanded nothing less than perfection.
They have had wonderful mentors, and access to exceptional raw materials. But now they get to apply all of our experience and all of our learning to their own wine project – MAXEM.
For many years, too many to count, they worked hard and waited for the right opportunity…Although they both feel that MAXEM was meant to be, they know that serendipity played a significant role. This project would not exist except for one very special person, Ulises Valdez.
Ulises managed the UV Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast, a site well-known to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fanatics. They’d tasted wines from this vineyard several times, and though they knew it was a longshot, they decided to see if we could purchase some of its fruit.
The site wasn’t the only thing attractive about UV, although its coastal location, well-drained soils, and meticulous farming protocol are precisely what they sought.
Sam is winemaker; Nancy, with her laser palate, has an equal say. The grapes lend themselves to the style of wines they both love: exquisitely balanced with bright acids and high tones yet richly textured and possessing full depth of flavor.
It is their palates that have driven them here, to this style of wine and especially to the UV Vineyard. Their production, of necessity, is small. Someday they hope to make more, to be able to share their wines more widely.
We are thrilled to have Sam Kaplan at TWE this year.