It’s been 40 years since my first vintage. In that time, I’ve made wines for several of the biggest big-name wineries, and in general, crafted them the way other people have wanted them made. Now I see this as my turn to make wine the way I believe it should be made, without apologies, no holds barred.
Another way I like to think of it is “full-throttle” Bob Cabral winemaking. This means the wines are the result of the best of everything I have access to, no considerations for anything less. I’m trying to find the best vineyards to work with; I don’t really care what the grapes cost. I want the best barrels available, and I’m using some custom-toasted barrels for a lot of these wines. The best isn’t always the most expensive, by the way. Really, it’s just that the handcuffs are off. It’s all about my winemaking thought process. I’m trying to make the best wines I think I can craft on a given vintage from the sources that I’ve chosen to use as raw materials. It’s about vision and individual interpretation. Read More
I envisioned these wines having a high yum factor with little winemaking intervention. They’ll go great with food. They have long, full finishes. And they’ll age well. I really don’t want these to be trophy wines. I would like to have people drink them and enjoy them. When people do taste these wines, I hope the experience goes beyond the cranberry, cherry, clove, earthiness, tartness, and other descriptors we’ve come to accept as typical. I want people to feel them, go back to memories of another time, and get caught up in creating new memories, right then and there.
I’m launching with three wines blended by geographical region. You’ll notice that I’m not doing any single-vineyard wines yet, and that’s purposeful. I believe there’s this myth that blended wines are of lesser quality than single-vineyard wines. I completely disagree with that way of thinking about wine. I’ve spent much more time and thought with my blended wines—when I’m making them, I can blend away defects and almost craft the perfect wine. This project is about that passion, and these are the types of wines I love crafting.
The Label Story
My wife Heather and I were fortunate enough to work with Byron Hoffman on our label design. This process was developed though several meetings at our home in Healdsburg that would sometimes last four or five hours. We talked about our family, my passion for music (rock ‘n’ roll in particular), how the wine business has provided us with an amazing life, and why we decided to pursue this project. We believe Byron very much captured our vision. This was one of the most rewarding processes I have ever been through. It seemed to finally bring our dream to life.
I adamantly resisted having my name “splashed” across the labels, so it may take a much closer look to find it. “Bob Cabral Wines” was used because the name “Cabral” had already be trademarked by a North American company importing Portuguese ports. That was just fine with me. We have used proprietary names for each wine. Each of those names has personal meaning and significance, those names have the largest font you’ll see on each label. Appellation, varietal, and vintage also are visible, since those are the most relevant information to any wine label. Byron deftly added many subtle elements from my fascination of old concert posters: the “bleeding” of color and backward lettering in a sort of balloon font to the color and texture of the paper stock we used. Each label also has a fragment of song lyric that I chose for a number of different reasons. Each is unique and meaningful to me, and I hope you find your own inspiration or muse as you enjoy the wines.
Rat De Cave
The French candle-stand called “Rat de Cave” or Cellar Rat, was the essential working tool used in the wine cellars of Burgundy. Its origin stems from far back in the past. In the year 1000 the Monks of the famous Abbey of Cluny, near Vougeot, used it to illuminate the caves that housed their wine barrels. This provided them with the necessary light to work with the wine barrels throughout the vintage. During fermentation, the colour of the flame showed the eventual evolution of gases as the wines underwent a chemical transformation. The Monks then knew to leave the caves due to lack of oxygen - a “canary” if you will. The handle or “rats tail” provides an easy grip and the hook permits to hang the stand on a nail or the head of an oak barrel. This would allow the Monks to rack the clear wine off of the heavy sediment or lees.
We chose this “tool” as a tribute or symbol to the traditional Burgundian methods I am using to craft our wines. Incorporating these traditions is an essential part of my winemaking thought process and vision - plus it’s really cool. You will not see this symbol on any of our labels, but should become quite familiar with it on the end of our bottle capsules. We hope that the flame inspires everyone towards a world of hope, peace and love.