Corison Winery is a small family farm producing delicious Cabernet Sauvignons that speak of place. Over three decades, Cathy Corison and William Martin have built a special home to celebrate the best of our little corner of the world, benchland in the heart of the Napa Valley. Known for power and elegance, Corison wines are balanced to grace the table and are recognized throughout the world for their longevity and consistency.
In 1987, Cathy Corison began to purchase great Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from prime benchland vineyards between Rutherford and St. Helena, intent on making powerful and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon that speaks of place. These well-drained alluvial soils had a long history of producing balanced, age-worthy, world-class wines, reaching back to the late 19th century. In her early years everything was done with smoke and mirrors, using purchased fruit and space in others’ wineries.
In 1995, with the purchase of Kronos Vineyard, a property that had been a farm for over a century, there was finally an estate vineyard and a place to build a winery. In the spring of 1999 we broke ground to build our stately Victorian-style winery barn, designed by Cathy’s husband, William Martin. Our second estate vineyard, Sunbasket, a stone’s throw from the winery, was purchased in 2015 after sourcing it for over 25 years.
Cathy’s winemaking journey began nearly 50 years ago when she took a wine appreciation course at Pomona College on a complete whim. She fell in love with wine for all the usual reasons, but, as a Biology major, was also taken by the fact that wine is the result of a fascinating collaboration among a series of living systems. Two years later she graduated, and two days after that, arrived in the Napa Valley, bent on making wine. A master’s degree in Enology at UC Davis followed, and then a harvest internship at Freemark Abbey in 1978. Winemaking positions included Yverdon in 1979-1980 and then Chappellet Vineyard for the 1980’s. In 1987, toward the end of her tenure at Chappellet, there was a wine inside her that needed to get out and she began to buy grapes and barrels (instead of cars and houses). Using other wineries’ excess capacity while continuing to moonlight at Staglin, York Creek and Long Meadow Ranch, Corison Winery was born.
Cathy’s husband, William, grew up in upstate New York working at his grandfather’s lumberyard and, using both sides of his brain, majored in Art & Physics at Middlebury College in Vermont. After several years in Boston working for an architect and cultivating his passion for food and wine, he met Cathy in 1990. They married two years later and William moved to the Napa Valley, just in time to help with the 1992 harvest. He soon brought Corison Winery into the digital age with its first computer, and remains the IT and Accounting departments to this day. A man with a long view, he searched for a vineyard and winery site and then orchestrated the purchase of Kronos Vineyard in 1995. He designed the winery barn and the classic landscaping and then built a model of the barn and shepherded us through the arduous use permit process. We broke ground in 1999, building a winemaking home at long last. With a combination of instinct and serendipity, he found five majestic palm trees in 2014 at a nearby jobsite and had them moved to grace our driveway and the Victorian vineyard house. His next big project was the masterful renovation of the old house, originally built in 1898, which has since been rechristened the Palm House. Most recently, he negotiated the purchase of Sunbasket Vineyard, a favorite vineyard that Corison Winery had sourced for nearly 30 years, and negotiated a long term lease on another adjacent vineyard. Other duties include forklift driver, grape hauler, crush hand and the thankless task of managing bottling.
The images on the Corison labels are inspired by old life symbols based on rain and a sprouting seed. They embellished vases excavated from the site of one of the earliest European cultures to cultivate grapes and make wine over 7,000 years ago.
Our estate has been a farm, continuously, since the late 19th century, growing grapes, prunes and walnuts. We have spent the last 20 years bringing the ranch back to its former glory as a small family farm. Click on the images below to read more about the farm.