October 1, 2009
Krupp Brothers & Stagecoach Vineyard
Cut Legendary Path Across the Napa Valley
When Jan and Bart Krupp began the search for a name for their Stagecoach Vineyard label of wine, they sought a moniker that reflected the wild yet elegant structure profile of the Rhone-varietal wines coming from Stagecoach Vineyard’s 560 planted acres on Atlas Peak. That Black Bart also captured the unique history of their frontier mountain vineyard, only served to add another poetic layer to a vineyard and winery property already rich with Napa Valley lore.
The infamous Black Bart of the late 1800s robbed dozens of Wells Fargo stagecoaches crossing over mountain roads, including the stagecoach passes that once stretched across the Krupp Brothers’ present-day Stagecoach Vineyard. Born Charles Boles, the San Francisco businessman became known as a gentleman bandit, a sophisticated gray-haired outlaw with impeccable posture, fine manners, tailored dress and a partiality for leaving poetry at the scene of his crimes.
While the Black Bart label brandishes this inimitable spirit of the sophisticated rogue, Jan and Bart Krupp determined early on that the Black Bart portfolio of wines would cut its own legendary path across the California frontier and the globe. And since the day Jan Krupp purchased his first 41 acres up in the mountain desert known as Atlas Peak, the brothers have overcome some rather fantastic obstacles to become the protagonists in their own almost epic story. The Stagecoach Vineyard and Krupp Brothers tale – of carving a road into a mountain desert, of hiring a water witch to find the water geologists could not, of removing 1 billion tons of SUV-sized boulders before planting could begin – has become as compelling as the wines’ namesake, as visitors to the Krupp brothers’ beautiful 700-plus acre vineyard properties can attest.
From the beginning, Jan Krupp saw beyond the looming hardships to the potential beneath the rock and chaparral. And he saw the stunning beauty of the mountain, of the fragrant purple blossoms of rare native plants, and the views of the Napa Valley floor below and the San Francisco Bay beyond. Rising 900 feet above sea level and climbing to nearly 1,700, Jan quickly realized these eastern hills were ideally suited for rarely planted Rhone grapes like syrah, viognier and marsanne.
In fact, the diverse meso-climates and soil conditions found at Stagecoach Vineyard are distinctively suited for over 13 different grape varieties. Currently, the Black Bart portfolio consists of the Black Bart Syrah, which is co-fermented with a touch of Viognier to add floral aromas and silky texture; Black Bart Marsanne; and Black Bart’s Bride, a blend of marsanne, viognier and chardonnay named after the bandit’s mysterious amour. In select years, winemaker Nigel Kinsman also makes a Black Bart Syrah Rose and Syrah Port.