A Brave New Wine
Native Americans and early settlers hunted animals with bows and arrows so they could feed themselves and their families. But a lucky few wielding those old-school weapons were able to enjoy a gourmet wild game meal on Sunday, washed down by fine Napa Valley red wines, no matter how badly they aimed.
The occasion was the exclusive launch party for the new Mt. Brave wine label at the Houdini Estate in Los Angeles, where three wines and a mini-archery range magically appeared. Mt. Brave winemaker Chris Carpenter, who has worked on other top Kendall-Jackson Napa mountain vineyards such as Lokoya and Cardinale, introduced the inaugural 2008 vintage, which includes 1,000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon ($75), 100 cases of Merlot ($60) and 100 cases of Malbec ($60).
Mt. Brave’s grapes are grown on Mt. Veeder, the largest sub-appellation in Napa, which is sparsely planted, as harvest yields are low and farming difficult. Not only is the high-altitude (1,400 to 1,800 feet above sea level) terrain rugged, but temperatures are cooler and swing sharply between the day and the night. The land that is now home to Mt. Brave was originally purchased in 1841, and the first Mt. Veeder wines were at the Napa County Fair in 1864.
The label’s name refers to Mt. Veeder and the Wappo Indians who first lived there, known as “The Brave Ones.” An arrow is part of Mt. Brave’s iconography, and guests were instructed to shoot them using bows, but only at targets. The wines paired well with the wild game barbecue, which included buffalo, elk, duck and wild boar, prepared by chef Neal Fraser of Grace and BLD. For many, the only bullseye they scored was in one of Fraser’s doughnuts that ended the meal.
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