Continuum Finds a Home

Mondavi family enterprise acquires Cloud View property

by Jane Firstenfeld
Continuum and Mondavi wines
Continuum Vineyards
St. Helena, Calif. -- Continuum, a partnership of the Marcia and Tim Mondavi families and Margrit Biever Mondavi, announced today it has completed its purchase of Cloud View Vineyards on Pritchard Hill, overlooking the Napa Valley in St. Helena. Escrow closed on the deal on July 16, exactly 42 years after the groundbreaking for the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville.

The property, previously owned by Linda and Leighton Taylor, includes 85 acres, 26 currently planted to Cabernet and Merlot vines, as well as an existing winery and other buildings. The Mondavis plan to build a new winery on the site.

Continuum released 1,000 cases of its first vintage, a 2005 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, this April. Primarily sourced from Marjorie's Vineyard--named for Tim and Marcia's mother--the wine retails for $130 per 750ml bottle. There is still a limited quantity of the inaugural vintage available, according to Carissa Mondavi, Tim Mondavi's daughter, who handles public relations for the brand.

Until the new winery is completed at the Pritchard Hill property, Continuum will continue to be produced under an alternating proprietorship arrangement with Tony Cartlidge's Greenfield Wine Co. in America Canyon, Calif. "We have carved out a production space with all of our own equipment," at Greenfield, Carissa Mondavi told Wines & Vines.

"The vision for Continuum is to be a single red wine estate, to stand in the company of the great wine estates of the world," she said. "The production for the next few years is about the same, but we would like Continuum to slowly grow over a long period of time into about the size of a tiny first growth."

Mondavi explained that her father, Tim, provides the vision and is director of the endeavor's winemaking and growing, assisted by Kurt Niznik, who helped with the first vintage and came on board fulltime this summer.

Continuum and Mondavi wines
The Mondavis had searched for a permanent home for their venture since 2005. "After searching three years for the perfect soil, climate and aspect, we now have a great site suited to our commitment of establishing a wine estate recognized among the finest in the world," Tim Mondavi said in a statement. "It is important to us that my father had seen and blessed this site," prior to his demise on May 16.

"The rocky red soil and west sloping aspect assure wines of great depth, interest and personality. I'm confident in our ability to establish this site as a great estate for our Continuum," he said.

Located at 1677 Sage Canyon Road in St. Helena, the property's neighbors include Bryant Family, Chappellet, Colgin, David Arthur, Lon Vineyards, Ovid and Versant, among other famous names.

Although the Taylors have sold the vineyards and property where they have lived and grown grapes since 1989, they will continue to produce the Cloud View Vineyards brand that they launched in 1999. The 2005 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend will be released late this fall. According to Leighton Taylor, "Having farmed here for 20 years, we have solid relationships with our neighbors and can obtain great fruit."

Linda Taylor, the vineyard manager, added, "The labors of farming high-elevation mountain vineyards require intense focus. Leighton and I have decided to scale back to concentrate on wine production, and we will continue working with winemaker Karen Turjanis. Because we love this land, and are proud of the farming we have done here, we are quite pleased that Tim and his family will be the stewards of the vineyards. As the developers of these plantings, we are proud to have one of the founding winemaker families of Napa Valley nurture them in the years to come."
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