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by Fred McMillin
Winery of the Week
...James Conaway's book titled Napa
How did it go for Cathy during her decade at Chappellet?
Historian Charles Sullivan—Critics complained of a lack of consistency at Chappellet until Cathy Corison took over in 1981.
Napa Expert Jame Laube—The 1984, 1985 and 1986 Cabernets are rich and concentrated. Chappellet is fully back on track.
This Is NOT Your Boutique of the WEAK!
With that track record, Cathy launched her own Corison Cabernet in 1987. How did she manage to acquire a vineyard and a winery so abruptly?
She didn't. She knew the central Napa growers well, and where there was excess winery capacity. So, she bought her grapes and rented the use of a winery. At less than 2,000 cases, it was clearly a boutique effort, but just as clearly, NOT a boutique of the weak. She made only Cabernet from prime Rutherford-area grapes, complemented with 100% French oak. Professor John Baxevanis' appraisal of her first vintages is typical of the critical reaction: "This former cellar rat at Freemark Abbey and winemaker at Chappellet, now makes her own wines and they are getting better and better year after year, hopefully forever."
1992—Kathy wrote me about this vintage four years ago (see signature). My panel gave it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
And here is some of that promise of further improvements: Cathy has bought a 9-acre Cab vineyard in the heart of the valley. We understand that before too long she will be creating those wonderful wines in her own winery.
Just the Facts
After earning degrees first in biology and then enology (U.C.-Davis), this pioneering female had some of her very first experiences with Rutherford-area Cabernet grapes at the venerable Freemark Abbey Winery.
How appropriate, since the timbered floor of the Freemark Abby Winery gift shop was once the ceiling of the 1886 winery of Josephine Tychson, the Napa Valley's first female winemaer!
This page created November 2000