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Raising Cain : New Winery Sells 'Five' Futures

April 03, 1988|ROBERT LAWRENCE BALZER

WHEN decorator Joyce Cain and her husband, Jerry, a construction engineer, found a 542-acre ranch on the summit of Spring Mountain overlooking the Napa Valley, it easily became a home site of irresistible appeal. The challenge of vine growing and wine making appealed to the Cains, especially after soil testing offered abundant evidence that the deep shale would be of incomparable value in the production of the red-wine varieties responsible for the great clarets of Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Simultaneously with construction of their new mountain home and a winery, 110 acres were planted on dramatic terracing. They employed young Lester Hardy as wine maker, commissioning him to buy choice Napa Valley grapes and launch the Cain Cellars winery. First releases of Napa Valley Chardonnay from Carneros-region grapes were well received.

But the most exciting news from Cain Cellars is their first estate-grown claret, blending the wines from all five of those Bordelais varieties--Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot--from the 1985 vintage. Last November, "Cain Five," a cask sample of the blend, was blind-tasted against five other Napa Valley Cabernets. It was an outstanding favorite. It is scheduled for release on Jan. 1, 1990, but futures are now being sold at the winery for delivery of five bottles in wooden cases for $98. The projected release price will be $25 per bottle. 1

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