Our Story | Why Greyscale?

Our Story

Greyscale Wines LLC is a family-run winery established in 2008 by Jean and Larry Rowe. We specialize in Bordeaux-style wines using high quality grapes from premium vineyards in Napa Valley. Our Cuvée Blanc is a new world take on a Bordeaux Blanc that blends barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon which produces a rich, complex wine with many layers of flavor. Our Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux Variety grapes (e.g., Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec), which produces a classic California Cabernet similar to a left-bank Bordeaux Rouge. Our Merlot is blended with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and occaisionally Malbec that is typical of Napa Valley Merlots.

The origins of Greyscale Wines goes back a long way. Jean grew up in Northern California in a home with a backyard vineyard where her father grew grapes and made wine for many decades. She vividly remembers working in the vineyard to train grape canes in the Spring and taking refractometer readings at harvest. Larry’s interest in wine started as a consumer. He and Jean visited many wineries in California and around the world as they learned more about fine wines. The art of winemaking and marketing of fine wines was an obvious interest for Larry with his scientific background (U.C. Berkeley Emeritus Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and experience as a high tech entrepreneur (Co-founder of the original Ingres Corporation in 1980) and Angel Investor, and startup mentor.

A memorable trip to Bordeaux in September 2005 included visits to several Grand Cru Chateaux and witness to the harvest of the outstanding 2005 vintage. Jean and Larry decided after this trip to make wine that mirrored the great wines they enjoyed. We loved the elegant, low alcohol wines from Bordeaux. We also believe the best wines pair well with the fresh local food pioneered in California. Our dream is to create elegant Bordeaux-style wine using California grapes.

We contacted a custom crush operation in San Francisco (Crushpad) to help us realize this dream. We met Kian Tavakoli who, besides having French heritage and sharing our love of Bordeaux-style wines, is a world-class winemaker. He trained at the world renowned U.C. Davis viticulture and enology program, interned at wineries in California and France, and worked at Opus and Clos du Val. We first made a barrel of Cabernet for private consumption in 2006 using grapes from the Stagecoach vineyard in Napa. We loved the wine and were sorry we could not sell it to friends who asked to purchase bottles after they tasted it. So, we decided to “go commercial” with our first vintage in 2008 – and Greyscale Wines was born.

Our first release was the 2008 Cuvée Blanc that won a “Best in Class” award among Bordeaux White Varieties at the 2011 San Francisco Wine Competition. Both our 2008 and 2009 Cabernets have garnered Double Gold medals from distinguised competitons. The 2009 Cabernet was awarded 96 points and the 2010 Cabernet was awarded 95 points by Tasting.com.

In 2012, we joined the Kito Wine Consortium and currently make our wine at a facility south of St. Helena operated by the consortium. And, we are very happy to still have Kian Tavakoli as our winemaker.

Greyscale Wines has continued to win Gold Medals and receive high scores from critics during the 2010 decade. Of particular note were the four consecutive Gold Medals awarded the first four vintages of our Napa Valley Merlot (2014-17) including a Double-Gold for the 2015 Merlot, and the highly regarded 2013 Rutherford Cabernet (94 points) and 2016 Rutherford Cabernet (95 points).


Why Greyscale?

Many people ask why we chose this name for the winery. “Greyscale” is a term used in color science, printing, photography, and computer displays. It describes all shades of grey in the color spectrum between black and white. Winemaking, like many things in life, is not an absolute recipe (i.e., black and white). Instead each year's blending process involves a series of adjustments, reacting to the unique qualities of the fruit that year.

Our motto is “Wine is neither white nor black, it is always shades of grey!”

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