When it comes to winemakers, Thomas Rivers Brown is in a league of his own. Wine Spectator has referred to him as the man with “the midas touch,” while over the past decade critic Robert Parker has given 25 of his wines perfect 100-point scores. This week, the King of California Cabernet opens Elusa, his own pet project located near his Calistoga home.
Brown has been developing Elusa for more than a decade. It’s a winery that is focused on celebrating Calistoga, a Napa AVA that hasn’t received as much praise as other regions such as Oakville, Rutherford, or Stag’s Leap.
Located at the north end of Napa Valley, Calistoga AVA is where the wine region’s greatest temperature shifts occur. The daytime heat is ideal for letting clusters hang to peak ripeness, while cool nights allow the vines to rest, resulting in a more balanced wine. Still, Chateau Montelena remains the singular focal point when it comes to global recognition.
Brown is looking to change that. “The goal of the project is to find and promote the best vineyards of the neighborhood,” he told Jay McInerney (quite possibly America’s finest wine writer).
Upon opening, Elusa will feature its own Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Sauvignon Blanc, alongside wines from neighboring Calistoga vineyards. To go along with this year’s 2018 vintage, the winery has a library that stretches back to 2012, its inaugural harvest.
Brown describes the Elusa’s winemaking process as “‘Minimalistic” and that the wines themselves “reflect this, as well as the unique growing conditions of Calistoga.” The only way to find out what the wines taste like, however, is to become a member or visit.
Elusa offers three levels of membership, which include allocations of releases from the winery along with access to a private members lounge. They are priced from $1,500 to $4,000.
If that’s a bit too fettuccine alfredo for your blood, non-members can book customized tasting and tours of the vineyard, which shares a property with the Four Seasons Resort and Residences in Napa Valley–opening this fall.
Elusa is not Brown’s first vineyard. That honor belongs to Rivers-Marie, which has been producing some of California’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (as well as Cabernet) for nearly two decades.
For more information, head over to Elusa’s official website.