A Story of
Friends and a glass of wine
Like a lot of grand adventures, the Cornerstone story starts with a conversation between friends over a glass of wine. The result was Cornerstone Cellars, and two decades later, we’re making wines with constancy and classic varietal attributes that manage to be distinctively approachable (and delicious). Our DNA combines old school Napa Valley ease with a welcoming Southern approach to entertaining, and the result is classic Napa wines that make any table and any dinner a little more welcoming and celebratory.
Perhaps it was the second or third bottle being opened that afternoon, but Dr. Mike Dragutsky found himself inspired atop Howell Mountain tasting alongside longtime vintner, Randy Dunn. An extra few tons of fruit from Randy’s property were available, and voila, Cornerstone Cellars was born.
In 2001, Cornerstone entered a new era with the hire of a celebrated consulting winemaker and her assistant winemaker Kari Auringer (remember this name). During her tenure, a new discipline to the Cornerstone portfolio emerged, making wines grounded in classic expressions of hillside terroir and varietal characteristics. Mostly notably, it was a creation of big, complex classic California Cab.
The early 21st century saw Cornerstone Cellars begin production at the iconic Laird Family Estate, a new facility, that launched a new model in custom crush facilities. As a boutique producer we were thrilled to have a facility focused on producing quality wines in very small lots.
A big year for Cornerstone Cellars. In 2009 we inaugurated our Yountville Tasting Station, a point of pride for us as a place where we practice our brand of low key hospitality. In 2009, we also began producing our Corallina Rosé. 2009 was also the year Jeff Keane took the reins from the previous winemaking team and made his first vintage start to finish.
2012 was first vintage of Cornerstone’s notable Oakville Station Merlot, a complex wine straight from the heart of UC Davis’s own Oakville Station vineyard. Our vision was to blend it with our Oakville Station Cabernet Sauvignon, but it powerfully stands on its own, and we bottle a small number of cases each vintage as a single varietal. The result is a delightfully drinkable young wine, but one that rewards patience if you can manage it.
In 2014 we welcomed a familiar face back to oversee and shape our wine portfolio. Former assistant winemaker, Kari Auringer returned to Cornerstone, having overseen vintages at iconic wineries throughout Northern California. Today, under Kari’s capable hands (and palate), Cornerstone’s wines are the best they’ve ever been, and they’re getting even better.
It’s our 30th anniversary. For three decades, we’ve been stubbornly distinctive, and moving forward, we don’t see that changing. We’ve seen trends come and go. We’ve seen nature do exactly what it wants to do. We’re still here. We love what we do. Thank you for standing by us.