The Heritage of Schrader Cellars

Over the course of more than two decades, Schrader Cellars has burnished a reputation for excellence by imposing the highest standards of winemaking and sourcing in pursuit of producing Cabernet Sauvignon that captures the essence of the best vineyards in Napa Valley.  Schrader Cellars was founded in 1998 by Fred Schrader, who set out to craft Cabernet Sauvignon with a single-minded focus on quality and provenance. Thomas Rivers Brown joined Schrader Cellars as winemaker in 2000.

Today, Schrader Cellars has achieved thirty-nine perfect 100 point scores from top wine reviewers – more than any other winery in the Napa Valley.

In 1988, Fred Schrader was a thriving dealer in the world of art and antiques when his good friend and Christie's auctioneer, Brian Cole, invited him to the Napa Valley Wine Auction. A lover of wine and adventure, Fred happily accepted the invitation and soon found himself enjoying delicious wines while spending time with some of the valley’s most notable founders.

Fred tasted a barrel sample of Cabernet in 2000 that changed the course of his life. On a quest to produce wine with similar depth and uniqueness, he discovered the source of the extraordinary grapes to be the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville. Fred knew he had found the source for great Cabernet, and he set out to secure grapes from this remarkable estate.

This quest led Fred directly to the office of legendary grape grower W. Andrew Beckstoffer. The partnership began with a small, but stunning selection of vine rows in the historic Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard. As the years clipped by, we expanded our reach in the vineyard, and today the finest blocks are dedicated to growing Schrader Cabernet.

Fred approached Thomas Rivers Brown about joining his new Cabernet project. Thomas had just moved to the valley and showed a great passion for winemaking. The biggest challenge — he had never made a bottle of Cabernet, only Zinfandel. Where others may have been daunted, Fred saw this as an opportunity.

Fred and Thomas worked on the style of wine Fred hoped to achieve — big, fruit-forward, and abundant with exceptional purity as well as enduring structure. They both consider the 2001 vintage to be the first sign of the great things to come. The rest, as they say, is history.

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It All Starts In The Vineyard

Drawing from his fine art background and the knowledge that pedigree sustains throughout the process, Fred knew that to create the finest wines he had to begin with the finest grapes. As true today as it was when Fred started Schrader Cellars, our benchmark wines are made from grapes grown exclusively on Napa Valley’s most prestigious and historic vineyard estates.

Image of Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard


To Kalon Vineyard

First planted in 1868 by viticultural and winemaking icon Hamilton Crabb, To Kalon Vineyard has long been regarded as the source of Napa Valley’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon. Within the prime vineyard blocks, an alluvial fan provides excellent and varied mineral deposits, and the soils are filled with marine sediment. Each block of Cabernet Sauvignon showcases its unique clonal signature and captures the essence of terroir. This celebration of individuality and focus on provenance and quality is at the heart of Schrader Cellars.

Image of vineyard crew pruning a vine in the Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard

Various Blocks, To Kalon Vineyard

Heritage Clone

Our Heritage Clone Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from a single block in To Kalon Vineyard that is planted to a unique and exceptional clone with a rich history. The clone was isolated in the 1980’s as part of a project led by UC Davis to identify legacy and historical clones of exceptional quality planted in vineyards throughout California. The clone produces impossibly small clusters - smaller than a man’s fist - with tiny berries and very low yields and produces wines of great intensity, complexity and character.

Stags Leap District

Wappo Hill

Located on the hillside just below the Mondavi residence in the Stags Leap District, Wappo Hill Vineyard runs down the hillside to the valley floor. This change in elevation allows for the grapes grown in this vineyard to have very different characteristics. The hillside vines, due to their struggle to grow in the rocky soil, lend themselves to the more formidable nature of Cabernets. Whereas the vines on the valley floor produce grapes that are rich, silky, and elegant.

Image of Wappo Hill in Stags Leap District of Napa Valley
Image of Monastery Block Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on a grapevine


Monastery Block

Located on the Northwest side of the To Kalon Vineyard, the Monastery Block is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is defined by its high mineral content and exceptional drainage, offering optimal north-south sun exposure by day with cool coastal breezes at night that we feel is the ideal environment for growing our Cabernet Sauvignon.

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