Caymus: Charles, Chucks, and Charlies

Posted by The Wine Whore |

In my previous posting about Cort Taint, I referenced the screw top found on Conundrum which is owned by the same regarded winery that also produces the famed Caymus cabernet. While this relationship is fairly common among wine lovers, few actually know exactly how the two are related. This sparked me to research the Wagner family lineage of the two wineries including the confusion of Charles, Chucks, and Charlies.

The Wagner story begins with Charles Wagner arriving in California in 1885. Charles moved to Napa after the great earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco. There, he bought land and began to grow a variety of crops including grapes. In 1915 he opened Wagner Winery which was soon closed due to Prohibition.

Caymus was created in 1971 by his son, Charles F. (Charlie) Wagner, who together with wife Lorna, and their son Chuck, built the winery and named it after a local land grant. Caymus was passed down to Charles J. (Chuck) Wagner in 2002 when his father, Charlie Wagner passed away.

Chuck's two sons, Charlie II and Joseph J. continue the family tradition of winemaking. Although both sons choose to distribute their wines through Caymus Vineyards, they chose not to produce their wine under this name. Charlie II, winemaker for Mer Soleil Chardonnays and 'Silver' Chardonnay, uses grapes from the Wagner�s Mer Soeil Vineyard in Monterey County. Joseph, uses the former white wine side of Caymus Vineyards to make Belle Glos Pinot Noirs which are named after grandmother Lorna Belle Glos Wagner.

Conundrum and the Wagner family are linked through both Caymus winemaker Jon Bolta and the grapes which are selected from the Wagner's Mer Soleil Vineyard in Monterey County. Today, the Conundrum winery stands alone as a separate brand from Caymus.

The next time you enjoy a bottle of Caymus, Conundrum, Mer Soleil, or Belle Glos, think about that Wagner family. Like the Charles, Chucks, and Charlies of this family, the names may confuse you but they are all still closely related.

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