Roots Run Deep Winery, Equal Parts: Art & Science

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"Roots Run Deep Winery, Equal Parts: Art & Science"
By Lisa Gmur, CSW

I have to admit, that when Robert Parker hails a particular wine or winery, I am intrigued. So when he called Roots Run Deep Winery( that’s the folks who bring us Educated Guess, Hypothesis , Higher Education and Bound and Determined) “simply one of the best value wineries in the Napa Valley,” I had to try their whole line up. Parker was right on. From their Napa Valley Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, to their flagship wine, Hypothesis, the entire portfolio had amazing concentration, character, aromatics and flavor. The Palm (featured in this issue’s What’s at Steak) has been pouring Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon since May 1st, 2013.

Roots Run Deep has recently expanded their physical footprint, first partnering with Jamieson Ranch Winery and then taking over the property. The opening of the tasting room allowed Roots Run Deep Winery to integrate its production and hospitality all at one location. The historic winery building, just across the Napa line in American Canyon, is flanked by vineyards on all sides and is quite impressive. We visited the property last year. “This tasting room has energized our team to continue to produce exceptional Napa Valley wines that are approachable and can be enjoyed in our beautiful tasting room environment or at home with friends and family,” said Mark Albrecht, owner and CEO of Roots Run Deep Winery. It came after a decade of receiving countless consumer requests for tours and tastings.

The new tasting room also allowed them to introduce limited production wines only available there. Roots Run Deep also opened a tasting room in downtown Napa earlier this year. They purchased a beautiful and historic craftsman home at 1607 First Street. The home was built in 1901 and underwent a detailed restoration to bring it back to its former glory.

But let’s first explore the roots of this winery.  Roots Run Deep was founded in 2005, by Mark Albrecht with the sole purpose of producing affordable wines that taste like $50-100 bottle wines.  With the help of UC Davis graduate and renowned winemaker Barry Gnekow, they succeeded. The grapes are grown by the best producers in Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and Carneros wine districts.

Brand new downtown Napa tasting room

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Mark Albrecht head shot
Mark Albrecht, Owner, Operator, Janitor & CEO, Roots Run Deep Winery

Their flagship wine, Educated Guess Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon, has been a national success story, now holding the #3 spot in sales of all Cabernets $20-$25. It’s actually more of a Bordeaux style blend with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in the blend. The newly released EG by Educated Guess North Coast Cabernet has quickly become a Top 50 Cabernet in the $15-$20 category. Since their inception, they expanded their wine portfolio into the Sonoma Coast and Lake County, searching the state for the best quality fruit in order to continue fulfilling the mission of delivery amazing wines at incredible prices.

If you don’t know Mark Albrecht, he is a former national VP and buyer for Cost Plus/World Market and is also the “brains trust” behind some very familiar and great success stories in the wine industry. In his former position Mark co-created some labels with wineries that later became national “phenoms” in the industry. Have you ever heard of Blackstone, Red Truck, or even Chandon Etoile? They were all Mark’s creations. So, it was not surprising when Albrecht decided to launch his own wine label. What you may not know is that this decision came with a high price. Albrecht did not have a household name or an inheritance. It took hard work, creative financing and a heck of a lot of tenacity.

Albrecht sold his house and everything inside of it to raise capital. Later, while preparing for his first harvest, he knew he needed more, and headed out to visit family and friends. His story sold. A few handfuls of them believed enough in Albrecht and his new wine project that they turned over some of their hard-earned money to help his dream become a reality.
The idea for Roots Run Deep, had actually started even earlier. Albrecht knew he wanted to make a Napa Cab that was both Award winning and affordable when he began his research. He sourced out fruit in Napa, developed relationships with the growers in the valley and then set out to take grapes from these growers and produce his own wines right in Napa Valley. What he didn’t know was what to call the wine. My husband Mark (Gmur) loves telling the story about how he first heard it, sitting in Mark Albrecht’s office on Zinfandel lane in St Helena. He says he listened fondly to Mark and how he came up with the name Educated Guess. Mark had brainstormed about 30 potential names and then polled sommeliers in San Francisco on which names were favorites. The winner was clear, and the name Educated Guess was born and then he turned his attention to the label.

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Albrecht went back to the same Sommeliers and polled them on his 15 label ideas, and the clear winner with 95% of the vote was the current label; an illustration that shows the chemical formulas in the production of wine, obtained from UC Davis and Cornell. The label was created from a photo of formulas written on a chalkboard.

Now you’re wondering what does the phrase Educated Guess actually mean? Well, the best one liner is “equal parts Art and Science.” Most winemakers will tell you that they make a lot of decisions when formulating a wine. Which grapes? Which grape sources? Which oak? Stainless versus barrel, stir the lees, don’t stir the lees, etc…. Well, some of those decisions are yes, “an Educated Guess”.

Over the years, Educated Guess expanded to include a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot and Roots Run Deep Winery has grown to include other labels besides Educated Guess. Grapes grown in the prestigious wine districts of Oak Knoll, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Carneros. The sole source of the Carneros Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is the famed Sangiacomo family who have been farming the lands of Sonoma since 1927.  The primary sources for their Cabernet are Beckstoffer Vineyards in Rutherford, Bettinelli and Laird Family Vineyards.  They also purchase very small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot from the best neighboring vineyards, always committed to finding the best possible fruit at the best prices. 

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Over the years, Educated Guess expanded to include a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot and Roots Run Deep Winery has grown to include other labels besides Educated Guess. Grapes grown in the prestigious wine districts of Oak Knoll, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Carneros. The sole source of the Carneros Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is the famed Sangiacomo family who have been farming the lands of Sonoma since 1927. The primary sources for their Cabernet are Beckstoffer Vineyards in Rutherford, Bettinelli and Laird Family Vineyards. They also purchase very small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot from the best neighboring vineyards, always committed to finding the best possible fruit at the best prices.
In 2017, Roots Run Deep hired Macario Montoya as their new head Winemaker. Prior to that Montoya had been at Pina Winery in Rutherford; (also a darling of Robert Parker and the Wine Advocate) and a winery known for their cabs. Montoya oversees all aspects of winemaking as well as vineyard management and grower relations at Roots Run Deep.
winemaker macario montoya
Roots Run Deep, winemaker, Macrio Montoya
Now to some specifics about the growing number of labels from Roots Run Deep Winery. As I mentioned earlier, Educated Guess was the original label. It started with Cab and grew to include Carneros Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Merlot, which typically sells out because of its value, taste and popularity. They’ve also recently introduced EG by Educated Guess which offers an even more affordable line up.

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The Hypothesis Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon is produced from one of the best vineyards in all of Napa Valley; The Money Road Vineyard in Oakville. This Cabernet is small in production and spends 24 months in French Oak barrels. The blend is primarily Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon but also has Pritchard Hill Malbec and Pritchard Hill Merlot.

Higher Education is a reserve series of Cabernet Sauvignon. Each individual vintage explores a specific sub-appellation in the Napa Valley to showcase its uniqueness, finesse and power. For instance, the 2016 vintage was focused on Howell Mountain, specifically a vineyard located at one of its highest elevations. Each was aged in French Oak barrels for two years and another year in the bottle before release. Other vintages will include vineyards in Rutherford and Oakville.

Over the years, Educated Guess expanded to include a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot and Roots Run Deep Winery has grown to include other labels besides Educated Guess. Grapes grown in the prestigious wine districts of Oak Knoll, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Carneros. The sole source of the Carneros Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is the famed Sangiacomo family who have been farming the lands of Sonoma since 1927.  The primary sources for their Cabernet are Beckstoffer Vineyards in Rutherford, Bettinelli and Laird Family Vineyards.  They also purchase very small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot from the best neighboring vineyards, always committed to finding the best possible fruit at the best prices. 

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The concept of Bound and Determined is central to the founding practice of Roots Run Deep; to produce outstanding wines of substance and quality that compete with wines significantly more expensive. Bound and Determined pays tribute to all the people who helped make the dream a reality.

Bound and Determined is both a series of wines and a belief system. “At Roots Run Deep Winery we are driven, some might say hell-bent, and at the very least, persistent and resolute in our desire to the best possible wines period,” says Albrecht.

The Bound and Determined series wines are small in production and high in quality exploring both the micro-sites of the best sub-appellations in the Napa Valley as well as making the best blends possible from multiple regions throughout California.

(Adjective)
Definition – Completely Serious

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