Russell Bevan Purchases Saunders Vineyard in Napa Valley

Winemaker Russell Bevan just made two big moves in Napa Valley. He purchased a 41-acre vineyard in Oakville and signed a long-term lease with the Tench family, owners of Tench Vineyard, who recently filed for a permit to build a winery nearby.

“I’m poorer than I’ve ever been, but I’ve never been so excited,” Bevan told Wine Spectator.

Bevan and Victoria DeCrescenzo purchased the Saunders Vineyard, which has been a source for grapes for a handful of Napa wineries for years, including his Bevan Cellars. He would not disclose the purchase price.

Currently 7.5 acres of the vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and Bevan identified an additional 7 to 12 acres that could further be developed for grapevines. The vineyard borders Dalle Valle and Oakville Ranch. “It’s the high-rent district,” he said. “This piece of property has deserved more attention paid to it for a long time.”

Meanwhile, Bevan, DeCrescenzo and the Tench family have agreed to build a cave together, also in Oakville. The Tench Vineyard, which shares a fence line with both Screaming Eagle and Rudd, has been the source of grapes going into bottlings for Nickel & Nickel, Quivet Cellars and Bevan Cellars. Bevan said that he just signed a 35-year lease with the Tenches. “Our families are like families,” he said. “Except we don’t bicker.” In addition to building a cave with them on their property, the couple will also control 90 percent of the 40 acres of Tench vines.

Bevan and his longtime partner DeCrescenzo lived in Minneapolis before moving to California in 1999—she was a dental hygienist, he sold dental equipment. The self-taught winemaker got his first shot at making wine professionally in 2005, and a decade later is a consultant for wineries such as Chateau Boswell, Chase, Jemrose, Westerhold and Wren Hop.

The two new moves will increase Bevan Cellars’ small production by 4,000 cases annually. Reflecting on how he had started as a winemaker only 10 years ago and now he owns 41 acres in Napa and controls another 50 acres in various contracts, Bevan joked, “We’re a real winery now! It’s not just a hobby.”


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