The Next Generation of Napa Valley Winemakers

The Next Generation of Napa Valley Winemakers

Napa is being taken over…

By the youngins!

Oh sure the history-makers are still there. Guys like Chuck Wagner, Bill Harlan, and Miljenko “Mike” Grgich are still making world-class Napa Valley wines.

But the next generation is starting to flex its muscles.

Even better, they’re trying to keep the cost down for their fellow millennials.

Because we get it — some of those wines can get expensive. But the Napa Valley wine region is one of the smallest in the world and produces only 4% of California’s wine grapes. “So there’s a premium on the land and the grapes,” says Kendall Hoxsey, president of NG: The Next Generation in Wine, an association of  the “next generation” of Napa Valley’s family wineries and vineyards.

That’s why the wines are often higher priced.

But the next generation is trying to help out.

Guys like 30-year-old Josh Phelps, whose father Chris Phelps is one of the Valley’s long-time winemakers, and 29-year-old Carlos Trinchero, of the Trinchero/SutterHome Family, started the Taken Wine Co. and their wines range from $13 - $39.

Or Jenny Wagner, 28, who’s father is Chuck, joined the family business as the winemaker for their Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc, which will run you $22. (She makes a Merlot too!)

And even younger sommeliers are gravitating toward the things their fellow millennials are trying.

NYC Sommeliers Mia Van de Water, 31, of North End Grill and Justin Timsit, 31, of Gramercy Tavern often pour wines that their peers are producing and are particularly impressed with guys like Steve Matthiasson of Matthiasson and Dan Petrovski from Massican, who are making wines from nontraditional Napa Valley grapes.

And its no surprise to see these young somms pairing these great wines with well, “younger” food, like burgers. And a bunch of sommeliers are even pairing sliders with Napa wines as part of the Somms and Sliders series in NYC from October 21st to November 4th.

If you can’t get to NYC, you can at least sign up to win free burgers!

Or just go to Shake Shack. They too believe in burgers and wine and now offers a Shack Red and Shack White, produced for them by Frog’s Leap.

So forget burgers and beers. The next generation is having wine with that burger.

Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip. 

Image Credit: Shake Shack

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