Creating red-wine from grapes grown on small acreages in both Napa Valley and Knights Valley is the passion of Beth and Jim Summers.
Jim Summers originally purchased a 28-acre vineyard in Knights Valley in 1987. Knights Valley is located northwest of Calistoga, between Mount St. Helena and the Alexander Valley. At that time it was primarily Merlot grapes planted on the property 30 years ago by Dan Duckhorn, with some Muscat Canelli. The first production of Summers Ranch Reserve Merlot was the 1992 vintage. We currently produce 900 cases. We also make Petite Sirah from the Knights Valley estate. As Knights Valley is one of Sonoma’s warmest appellations; its volcanic soils and close proximity to the Napa Valley, have led to increased interest in Bordeaux varietals from the appellation in recent years.
In 1996 we expanded our vineyard holdings to include 25 acres at the corner of Highway 128 and Tubbs Lane. This Napa Valley property carries the name Summers Estate Wines, with the vineyard designation of Villa Andriana Vineyard, named after our daughter. While the property has been completely transformed to recognize its full potential, we take great care and pride in maintaining our 40 year old Zinfandel vineyards on the property. With a winery/tasting room, and 22+ acres of vines (Zinfandel, Charbono, and Cabernet Sauvignon) we think it a perfect balance of pleasure and productivity.
The signature “unique” wine offered by Summers is, Charbono. The name is thought to be an early Italian immigrant version of Charbonneau, a French varietal. Some strongly believe that this variety is a close relative to the Dolcetto variety, widely grown in northern Italy. The vine bears very large fruit which is used to make a very dark red wine, that, when subjected to extended skin contact during fermentation, is full of fruit flavor and low in tannins.
The Summers All-Star Team
Beth Summers — Owner
A third generation Californian, Beth Mazzola Summers is the granddaughter of grape growers and winemakers, Mazzola Brothers and Sons in Cucamonga, California in the early 1900s. Beth grew up in Westchester, a small suburb of Los Angeles, with her four brothers and parents. Beth graduated with a BS in Finance from California State University Hayward. After 15 years in the banking industry in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Beth now happily finds herself a long way from that world, enjoying life with her husband, Jim and daughter Andriana, working side by side in their small family winery in Calistoga. Beth’s winery responsibilities are many, including managing Accounting, Special Events, Human Resources and Public Relations for Summers Estate Wines. When relaxing Beth loves spending time with all of her large and extended, Mazzola and Summers families. She frequently attends events with her daughter related to college and sorority life. In down time Beth loves tending her rose bushes, reading and traveling to sunny beaches with husband Jim.
Jim Summers — Owner (1945-2018)
Although we lost our fearless leader, Jim Summers in August 2018, we carry on with his energy and our family traditions.
Where Jim Summers grew up—northeast Kansas—there were not a lot of vineyards. He left Kansas for the first time at the young age of 18 and lived in Southern California for several years, before heading home to finish college at Wichita State University. It was not long before Jim found his way back to California, this time in San Francisco. There he earned his MBA from USF and, like Beth, made a career in the banking industry. But once Jim visited the wine country, just north of San Francisco, he knew that was where he belonged. After seven years traveling wine country back roads in both Sonoma and Napa, Jim fell in love with and settled on a 30-acre vineyard site in Knights Valley, Sonoma County. His first thought was to retire from banking and spend time as a grape grower, but in 1992, a friend and winemaker made the first small production of Summers Ranch Merlot wine. After that first wine was bottled, labeled and sold under the Summers Ranch label, Jim realized he liked being in the wine business. In a few years’ time (1996 to be exact), he and Beth purchased the Summers Estate Wines property, located on Tubbs Lane in Calistoga, allowing them to produce wines with a Napa Valley appellation. Though many might think his present situation is a dream come true, it is a dream filled with much hard work, undaunted persistence, and many hours at the winery, in the vineyards, or on an airplane bustling around the country to promote Summers Estate Wines. As General Manager of Summers Estate Wines, Jim spends weeks at a time hosting wine dinners and working with our numerous, wonderful distributors. It is a labor of love!
Ignacio Blancas — Winemaker & Vineyard Manager
Ignacio “Nacho” Blancas, Summers’ Winemaker and Vineyard Manager, has worked with us for more than fifteen years. In addition to working full-time with Summers, Ignacio continued his education, and completed his Certification in Viticulture and Enology in 2004 at Napa College. Ignacio remains up-to-date with all current best-practices by attending seminars about viticulture and winemaking.
Over the past 10 years, Ignacio has been instrumental in the replanting of most of Summers’ 50 acres of grapes. He knows that great wine starts with great vineyards, so Ignacio has helped Summers produce the best grapes possible in relation to our soils and location in the warm, northern end of Napa Valley. At Summers Estate Wines, Ignacio has discovered ways to enhance and take advantage of our volcanic soil, resulting in unique qualities that give Summers’ wines their distinctive taste. Our long list of award-winning wines attests to his talents!
In addition to his duties as one of the busiest winemakers in the valley, Ignacio is also a devoted family man. He is married to Josephina and has one daughter, Rosa Elena, and two sons; Ignacio, (also known as Junior) and David. When he is not making award-winning wines, Ignacio has many hobbies! He loves to take walks with his family, read wine-related magazines, and participate in a local Wine Tasting Group. He also helps out in various capacities around the Calistoga community.
Jesus Blancas — Cellarmaster & Resident Artist
Jesus Blancas, (the youngest Blancas brother) has been with Summers Estate Wines since 2000, all the while receiving “on the job training” in winemaking from big brother, Ignacio. Jesus is our Cellarmaster and property maintenance manager. When he is not topping barrels or helping Ignacio blending wines, he takes time to hand-dip our waxed Petite Sirah bottles. An artist at heart, Jesus takes on painting projects around the winery and even designed a stencil to label Summers’ equipment with our logo horsehead.
A graduate of Calistoga High School, Jesus is married to Yesica, with whom he has two children: a son, Leonardo, and a daughter, Briana. In addition to spending time with his family, Jesus enjoys pencil painting.
Knights Valley Vineyard, purchased by Summers in 1987, our founding year.
Climate: Our 28 acre Knights Valley Vineyard is a perfect combination of full sun exposure during the day and abundant cooling marine influences at night.
Soil: Sloping vineyards, rocky and volcanic soils create excellent drainage that contributes a mineral richness to the wines produced from Summers Knights Valley vineyards. Summers Knights Valley wines display balance, massive structure, length and elegance with fruit aromas of black cherry and blackberry, with spicy notes.
Villa Andriana, Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, purchased by Summers in 1996.
Climate: Our 22 acres of Estate Villa Andriana vineyard experiences warm to hot temperatures during the day, giving way to cool evening breezes from the San Pablo Bay.
Soil: Our flat and gently sloped vineyards contain soils almost completely of volcanic origin and alluvial to heavier clay-silt soil. The combination of our Estate soils, climate and varietals planted, the vineyards express fruit forward wines, rich and aromatic characterized by unique earthy-berry flavors.
Vineyard Philosophy and Management
Under the direction of our Viticulturist, Winemaker and Vineyard Manager, Ignacio Blancas, our vineyards are farmed by hand in a low-impact sustainable manner. The vineyard soils and climate in combination with our grape varietals, rootstock clones and trellis system, together contribute to a dense, yet delicate richness and complexity in Summers Estate wines. Our goal is to present a true reflection of the vineyard terroir. We are proud to produce wines which reflect the quality and care we put into our Estate vineyards.