Domaine Carneros is a singular winery best known as a small grower-producer of méthode traditionelle sparkling wine, Pinot Noir, estate vineyards, and a breathtakingly beautiful château.
Founded by the noble family behind Champagne Taittinger, Claude Taittinger’s search for a worthy U.S. counterpart began in the late 1970s. In 1987 he selected a 138-acre parcel in the heart of Carneros, Napa Valley, wisely choosing Eileen Crane-often referred to as America’s doyenne of Sparkling Wine-to oversee the development of the Taittinger style in Carneros. In 2020, after 33 years, Crane passed the torch to a new CEO, Remi Cohen, whose role carries on the Taittinger tradition of visionary female leadership. Ushering in a new era of Domaine Carneros, Cohen brings two decades of experience in all facets of the wine industry to the château.
The heart of Domaine Carneros has always been our méthode traditionelle sparkling wines, with distinctive styles ranging from the classic vintage-dated Brut cuvee to our luxury Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs. In 1992 we added rich, complex Pinot Noir to our portfolio and our passion for sparkling and still wines continues to grow.
All of our wines proudly hail from the Carneros appellation, and 95% of our fruit comes from our six estate vineyards comprising 400 acres. As anyone who has driven between Napa and Sonoma can tell you, the Domaine Carneros château is a stunning regional landmark. Join us for tableside service on the terrace or in the salon and savor the spirit of the Northern California wine country.
Situated atop a knoll surrounded by estate, the château brings to Carneros the elegant style of the French wine country. With its grand staircase, formal gardens, expansive outdoor terraces, marble-floored fireside salon and breathtaking views of vine-covered hills, it is an incomparably royal setting for savoring fine sparkling and still wines, and for events.
At Domaine Carneros, winemaking begins with impeccable Carneros fruit, most of it grown in our estate vineyards. Gentle handling and attention to detail at every step preserve the purity of each distinct variety and clone. Our sparkling wine cuvées are crafted from a wide array of clones – an exacting and time-consuming art, honed from decades of experience.
Founded by the Taittinger family of Reims, France, Domaine Carneros is first and foremost a sparkling wine house, and with a heritage as distinguished as that of Champagne Taittinger, it’s no surprise all of our sparkling wines are produced using the exacting méthode traditionnelle.
While méthode traditionnelle is the most time consuming and costly way to produce sparkling wine, we knew there was simply no other option, for it produces the world’s finest sparkling wines: rich and complex with bubbles that create a pleasant, tingly, and creamy sensation on the palate.
And yet, méthode traditionnelle is only one important factor in our finished product. As with all great wines, the difference begins in the vineyards. The finest sparkling wines are crafted from cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and our homebase of Carneros, just like Champagne, France, is considered “Region 1,” the coolest of the five designated regions. Our grapes are also harvested in the cool of the night to ensure minimal bitterness and tannin in the resulting juice.
Once in the cellar, it’s time for blending. Our sparkling wines are first made like still wines, which are then blended into cuvées–arguably the most crucial step in the sparkling winemaking process. Sparkling winemaker Zak Miller and his team taste through every single vineyard block and fermentation and then carefully select the ones that will come together to create the best wine possible. “Bringing everything together so each blend has its own signature and personality is something I enjoy very much,” says Zak. There is no recipe, it’s really about relying on my experience and passion to create something that will evolve in bottle and emerge as a wine that will bring people joy.”
And Now, for the Long Finale
Once the blends have been established, we start the long, patient process of méthode traditionnelle. The best known distinction of this technique from other sparkling wine processes is that the wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle. Tirage, the addition of sugar and yeast to each bottle, is what ignites the second fermentation and creates those lovely little bubbles.
Our vintage-dated sparkling wines are aged in the bottle for at least three years, while the esteemed Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs is aged a full six years. Even three years is a rarity among sparkling wine houses, but the extra time on the lees (spent yeast cells) yields the rich complexity, seamless balance and delicious mouth-feel for which Domaine Carneros wines are known and loved.