Perhaps a bit late to the party, but an issue that’s still near and dear to my heart, having worked and walked in Mondavi’s To-Kalon Vineyard. During that time, I was aware that we, at Robert Mondavi, were sharing that vineyard land with other wine companies, too, under contracts.

When I heard that Constellation brands (owner of Mondavi) launched To Kalon Vineyard Company, I thought, really? While working at Robert Mondavi Winery, now also owned by Constellation, three of our prized wines were their Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and the Oakville District Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as having the vineyards for our exclusive source of our Fumé Blanc Reserve.

What was this Email I just got, stating: Misleading Move to Monetize Historic Legacy in the Famed Napa Valley?

It has to do with Constellation launching To Kalon Vineyard Company as its new wine company. But, it appears to not be having a seamless go of it.

I received this “other side” of the coin, from one of those contracting brands, with To Kalon on the label. It’s got more historical perspective for us all.

PRESS RELEASE from The Vineyard House

Misleading Move to Monetize Historic Legacy in the Famed Napa Valley

In a misleading and disingenuous move to monetize one of the most iconic and historic legacies in the famed Napa Valley, corporate giant Constellation brands recently announced the launch of To Kalon Vineyard Company. The true legacy of H.W. Crabb and the famed To-Kalon property that he planted over 150 years ago is not solely owned by beverage giant Constellation Brands – but is shared by many in Napa Valley.

“The legacy of H.W. Crabb and the iconic To-Kalon property represent a specific place within Napa Valley and a unique history that is well documented and not owned exclusively by Constellation Brands. It is a true misrepresentation of that famed legacy and that unique history for one corporation to use them as a marketing tool,” stated Jeremy Nickel, The Vineyard House.

H.W. Crabb’s To-Kalon property began with an initial purchase of 240 acres in 1868 and expanded with the acquisition of 119 acres in 1879 and 168 acres in 1889. At To-Kalon, Crabb helped establish Napa Valley as a premier wine region through his experimentation with varietals, production of high quality wine, and vine cutting sales. As a pioneering viticulturist and winemaker, he was respected for his technical expertise and shared his extensive knowledge through lectures and articles. At the time of Crabb’s death in 1899, the 527-acre To-Kalon property was regarded as one of the most significant vineyards in Napa Valley.

“Preserving and protecting the unique heritage and history that help to make Napa Valley such a special place has been a lifelong passion that was instilled in me by my father. He taught me the importance of place and history and the need to preserve that history for future generations so that they can better understand the pioneers like H.W. Crabb who helped to forge the early history of the Napa Valley that we all love so much,” stated Nickel.

For more information contact: The Vintage House:


First of all, the press release is intended to get our attention (according to the Public Policy site): “bring the full force of our considerable strategic communications experience and proven relationships with community opinion leaders, the media and multi-levels of government.” It did get my attention.

So, where does it go from here? Does it become political? Does the public own history, or does the owner of the property own the history?

Would it have to become a historical site, to settle the issue?

Yet, Constellation is Constellation and they have a new, high end brand. By creating it, Jeremy Nickel might not have to work as hard at marketing the name connecting his own brand’s access to rows of the famed To Kalon Vineyard. But, he does have to make some more noise, so he’s not lost in the shuffle?

Constellation had an epiphany: Create a new brands and call it the To Kalon Vineyard Company. If the name’s not already copy [stories that have been] written, what can anyone do, but (perhaps) try to fight it? Copy written text [stories written about a subject, not going through the process of establishing a copyright] might win over all else, if it’s not already on the record, though; especially since Constellation now owns the land.

[I have clarified in brackets above, since I didn’t clarify which process I was referencing.]

Public Policy did get my attention. Jeremy Nichols did gain my empathy.

Someone comes up with a new winery name, gets there first, and the rest is history.

Something to ponder: It may also be at the crux of Jeremy’s concern; what if Constellation grows so big with their wine that no company, beyond Constellation, will have renewed contracts for the extra fruit being grown in this vineyard?

  • If you have a contract, may you hold onto it and keep being so special, if Constellation lets you.
  • If you lose the contract, you may have to find another piece of history and attach your historical, lucky star to that.

The one constant in life is change, and so we mostly have to go with the flow. To-Kalon Vineyard’s history is still being written, even as I publish this, stating the obvious. We shall see if there’s any public outcry.