Story has it that Marilyn Monroe would often visit the winery to get a fill of bubbles. Today, Frank Family Vineyards continues in the tradition of Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars and produces four premium California sparkling wines: Blanc de Blancs, Brut Rosé, Rouge, and Lady Edythe Reserve. Each wine is hand crafted, in-house where we place an emphasis on quality and flavor. We’ve rounded up five fun facts about Frank Family sparkling wines that might surprise you.
1. Frank Family Vineyards was once home to the Hans Kornell Champagne Cellars.
Sparkling wine is in the genetic makeup of Frank Family Vineyards. In 1958, Hanns Kornell introduced the French méthode champenoise to California. The wine that made Kornell famous was a Riesling-based bubbly made like the German Sekt of his youth. He produced this famous sparkling wine from the historic Larkemead Winery, originally built in 1884. Years later, in 1992, Rich Frank acquired the iconic winery after the purchase of a classic Tudor home in Napa Valley’s Rutherford AVA and recognized the potential for something great-again. Today, Frank Family carries on the tradition of Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars with our self-made sparkling wine program.
2. Winemaker Todd Graff has 25 years of sparkling wine experience.
Winemaker, Todd Graff joined Frank Family Vineyards in 2003 with 10 years of sparkling wine experience working at Schramsberg and Cordoniu (now Artesa). His experience with some of the top sparkling wine producers in California allowed Graff to hone his craft in making sparkling wines according to the méthode champenoise, a skill he’s used since day one at Frank Family Vineyards. Graff’s primary goal with the Frank Family Sparkling Wine Program is to create handcrafted American sparkling wines using century-old traditions, all of which is still carried out by hand. With a focus on single-vineyard and house-made wines, we’re able to have control from vineyard to bottle, ensuring our high-quality standards are being met and exceeded.
3. All of our Bubbles are single-vineyard and estate-grown.
Frank Family sparkling wines are crafted from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes grown in the cool-climate Los Carneros AVA located at the south-end of Napa Valley. The heart of our single-vineyard sparkling wine program is the Frank’s Lewis Vineyard. This vineyard has been a part of our family since 2000, spanning 86 acres, with 58 acres planted to Chardonnay and 10 acres planted to Pinot Noir. Our winemaking team hand selects the grapes that will ultimately be used to create our four distinctive sparkling wines. Lewis Vineyard sits on the shores of San Pablo Bay bringing cool temperatures, fog, and wind that lend itself perfectly to cool-climate varieties. Our estate vineyard produces grapes with intense, ripe fruit flavors and elevated acidity – the perfect combination for outstanding sparkling wine.
4. Frank Family is the only Napa winery that continues to hand riddle every bottle to this day.
Our Sparkling Wine program was born to pay homage to the history before us and to establish ourselves from the rest of Napa Valley. In a modern wine industry, this means going back to our roots and preserving tried and true traditions. From hand harvesting to hand riddling, each of our bottles receives personal attention and artistry. With us since the beginning, Ana Lopez, uses her magic touch and precision to hand riddle every single bottle. In fact, if you check the bottom of any of our sparkling wines, you can see the mark Ana uses to keep track of the bottle’s rotation. Consider it Ana’s signature touch!
5. Our dedication to quality sparkling wine has earned us the recognition by national publications, such as Forbes, for leading the effort of “grower-champagnes” in the United States.
Winemaker, Todd Graff is very consciously following the French grower model, using only Frank Family fruit. He says, “The grower-producers have gotten hot in Champagne, but we aren’t trying to copy them. I’d say we are trying to be equal with them.” Todd’s belief that sparkling wine should have a sense of place is only part of what’s to gain from being a small-scale grower-producer. The other benefit is extended aging, which allows our sparkling wines to develop additional character. Each bottle receives extra aging time. For instance, the Blanc de Blancs ages on lees for three years, opposed to the mandatory one year, and the Lady Edythe Reserve rests for six years before disgorgement. We enjoy making our own rules at Frank Family Vineyards.