Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Elusive Grape Pouring - Kapcsandy Family Winery

On Thursday, February 18, The Elusive Grape ( held a wine pouring headlined by the 100-point-rated Kapcsandy Family Winery 2007 Estate Cabernet. This winery is not very well known but the quality of the wine tasted that night encouraged us to provide our metro-area Orlando readers with some background on this rising star.

When Lou Kapcsandy (pronounced cap-chandy) fled Hungary ahead of the Soviet invasion in the mid-50’s, I doubt that he ever thought he would eventually end up in Napa Valley, but winemaking was always part of his dream. In 2000, after a highly successful run as a player for the San Diego Chargers in the National Football League, and as a construction contractor in the Seattle area, Lou, his wife Roberta (Bobbie), and son Louis, Jr., purchased the historic 20-acre State Lane Vineyard on the Yountville Crossroad in the southcentral portion of Napa Valley. The vineyard had provided a key component of Beringer’s Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for the prior 20 years but the phylloxera root louse had ravaged the majority of the vines.

Not to be deterred, the Kapcsandy’s hired Helen Turley to make their wines and hired her husband John Wetlaufer to help them replant and redefine the vineyard. Whereas the original vineyard was solely planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Wetlaufer and the Kapcsandys discovered that the site contained several microclimates and soil profiles that made it suitable for several varietals, so they planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The first vintage produced under the Kapcsandy Family Winery label was the 2003. Helen Turley produced this vintage and the next (2004), and then recommended Rob Lawson, the winemaker from the Napa Wine Company, to take over the winemaking position. Turley had become familiar with Lawson when she made the Pahlmeyer wines at the Napa Wine Company facility. The Kapcsandys also brought in Denis Malbec from Chateau Latour in Bordeaux’s Pauillac commune as a consulting winemaker.

The first Kapcsandy wine was a Bordeaux-style blend (the Kapcsandy Family Winery Estate Cuvee – State Lane Vineyard) composed of about equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a small dose of Cabernet Franc to boost the aromatics. The second wine -- produced in 2005 -- was the Kapcsandy Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon - State Lane Vineyard, typically about 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the remainder split between Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In 2006, they added a third wine (designated Roberta’s Reserve) made from the most structured lots of Merlot, occasionally with a small dose of Cabernet Franc added.

For those who visit the winery, or are on the mailing list, there is an outstanding Rose composed of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot ,and 4% Cabernet Franc, and a Port-style wine made from dehydrated Merlot grapes.

Production levels are kept relatively low and the quality level high – in 2004 they produced on the order of 900 cases, in 2005 production rose to 1400 cases, and in the difficult 2006 vintage, some 500 cases of wine not meeting the Kapcsandy’s standards were sold off to ensure that only the best wine appeared under the Kapcsandy Family Winery banner.

With Denis Malbec assuming full control of the winemaking, the 2007 vintage looks to be the finest to date and, as the vines are not fully ten years of age, the best from the Kapcsandy family may be yet to come.


  1. I think they need to step up their winemaking team, what a bunch of slackers;)

  2. Checked the San Diego Chargers All-Time roster, no Lou Kapscandy on it. Great research