Lede Family Wines' Chris Tynan wins Napa winemaker award

Chris Tynan


Cliff Lede and Poetry, Lede Family Wines

1473 Yountville Cross Road, Yountville 94599


Napa Valley is changing, and "it is our job to adapt," says Lede Family Wines' Chris Tynan, winner of the Napa winemaker category of North Bay Business Journal's Wine, Beer + Spirits Industry Awards for 2019.

The Business Journal asked him about his journey to his current position and how the winery is adapting its new vineyards in the cooler Carneros viticultural region to the projected effects of climate change.

Detail your background in the industry:

I was born in New York and raised in Texas. My wine career truly began while I studied English and art criticism in college. It was there where I learned the importance of connoisseurship in the evaluation of great works of literature and painting.

Wine's methods of analysis and judgment are akin to those of the arts. My studies in critique have served as foundation for my decisions in the cellar and the vineyard.

After an early career as a restaurant wine buyer, I began working summers as a vineyard technician doing irrigation management for vineyards across Napa and Sonoma counties. Following a harvest at Cain Vineyard & Winery in 2004, I had an opportunity to work the 2005 harvest with the legendary winemaking and viticulture team of Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer at Blankiet Estate in Yountville.

In 2006, I became the assistant winemaker at the prestigious Colgin Cellars on Pritchard Hill.

At Colgin, I worked closely with owner Ann Colgin, Winemaker Allison Tauziet and Vineyard Manager David Abreu for the next five years. It was here where I learned and embodied the standard for excellence in all aspects of winemaking and viticulture. Seven wines made during my tenure at Colgin were awarded perfect 100-point scores from wine critic Robert Parker.

In 2012, I was introduced to Cliff Lede by David Abreu and joined the Cliff Lede Vineyards team shortly thereafter. My first vintage of Lede's flagship wine Poetry earned 98 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. My second vintage of Poetry earned 100 points.

My love of collecting fine wine from around the world continually develops my knowledge, style, and technique.

Describe the impact your company or you have had on the industry in the last five years:

Over the past five years, our industry has faced many challenges, including the devastating fires in October of 2017. Much of our community was negatively affected, and lost property and business due to the flames.

At Lede Family Wines, we realized that we had an opportunity to help others in need, and we chose to donate 5% of our revenue for the month of November to the Napa Valley Community fund to help community recovery efforts.

Lede Family Wines also has a special relationship with the arts in our community. We participate in many art-focused events in the Napa including Nimbash that fuels arts programming at Nimbus Arts and throughout the community and Festival Napa Valley.

In addition, we have a number of permanent art installations on our property, including the rotating exhibits in our Backstage Lounge.

Our winery is built on a deep commitment to both protecting and enhancing the land on which we live and grow our grapes. Sustainability is always top of mind for Lede Family wines, notably in 2015 our winery and vineyards were awarded Napa Green certification.

I am proud to know that our farming and production methods meet and exceed more than twenty local, state, and federal “best practices.”

What are the accomplishments you can list to support that impact on the industry?

- Winemaker behind nine, 100-point wines rated by Robert Parker

- Establishment of the Poetry Vineyard as one of the top grape growing sites in Napa Valley

- Napa Green Land and Napa Green Winery certifications

- Socially responsible hiring for vineyard crews. They work full time throughout the year and receive benefits

- Ongoing and innovative support of fine art and music in the Napa Valley

What changes have you noticed in your industry in the last five years and how have you and/or your company moved to capitalize on those changes?

The Napa Valley is constantly changing, it is our job to adapt accordingly.

Economically speaking, we have noticed changes in the grape market over recent years. Acquiring new estate vineyards is one way we can exercise greater control over the availability of certain grape varieties, while simultaneously ensuring that the resulting fruit is up to our very high standards in terms of quality.

Our recent acquisitions include two vineyards in Napa County, 85 acres of which are in the Carneros region.

We understand that our climate is changing, and the cooler area of Carneros that we have invested in will be a great site for experimenting with a wide range of grape varieties in a cooler climate than some of our existing sites.

Chris Tynan


Cliff Lede and Poetry, Lede Family Wines

1473 Yountville Cross Road, Yountville 94599


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