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NVV: Indian Duo Sing Wine in Napa Valley

Posted: Tuesday, 13 March 2012 11:51

NVV: Indian Duo Sing Wine in Napa Valley

March 13 : While Napa Valley might have been an Eldorado for the American wine aficionados, some of whom changed their career and even settled there, two Indians of different generations and backgrounds, who moved to the US in the early 70s (of different generation and backgrounds) have used their passion for top French wines to produce fine wine as a second business, writes Subhash Arora who met Raj Patel of San Francisco and Dr. M Revana of Houston at the Premier Napa Valley Auction last month in St. Helena, California..

Revana Family Vineyards and Patel Winery have become synonymous names for quality Napa Valley wines. At the recently held Premiere Napa Valley (PNV), the annual auction of unique wines produced and donated by 200 members of the vintners’ professional association, Napa Valley Vintners, the highest bidder for Revana’s lot #83 of 2010 Premiere  Cuvee of Cabernet Sauvignon was the Japanese Nakagawa Wine Company of Tokyo at $400 a bottle. The gentleman sitting in the row in front of me with a group of Japanese kept on raising his pedal #2 till the hammer went down in his favour. The same company bought his lot last year, indicating the strength and popularity of his wine in Japan.

Patel Winery in Yountville had entered the auction for the first time by donating 5 cases of 2010 Malbec which fetched $200 a bottle, higher than the average highest bid of $2000 a case of 12 bottles at the prestigious auction, where even the donations are accepted on a first come basis from only 200 members.

Raj Patel and Patel Winery

Raj Patel, with a finance background, is a Vice President at Bank of America and handles the securities business. He was 6 years old when he came to the USA in 1972. While studying in San Francisco Bay Area for a career in finance, he went for a summer internship at Robert Mondavi winery and was bitten by the wine bug and started learning about wines with the objective of producing his own wines styled after Bordeaux First Growths but with the true expression of Napa Valley.

He started the winery project in 2005. The very first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, of which he made only 500 cases, attracted attention as it won 95 points from Robert Parker and there has been no looking back since. ‘Proprietory Red No. 1’ was a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and 6% Malbec. It was a fruit forward, inky- dark wine with an aromatic nose- bold but elegant and well balanced. While a Napa Cabernet must be more than 85% to be classified as a Cabernet, he uses Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot to round off the wine.

‘We source our Cabernet Sauvignon grown in five leased vineyards. We blend Merlot and Malbec to refine the wine. We only use 100% new French oak barrels, ageing  this wine for 20 months’ says Raj, adding, ‘our winemaking is rooted in the use of Old World techniques but distinctively Napa Valley in expression.’

Patel is so conscious about maintaining high quality that he says the wines are blended and ranked separately and only the top 65-75% of the wine is bottled while the rest is sold as bulk wine every year. The wines retailing for $110 are sold through allocation only to registered members. Only a small portion is given to discerning restaurants.

In addition he makes a Bordeaux Right Bank styled ‘Red Wine’ made from Merlot, that sells for half the price of Cabernet. Blend of 48% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, and the rest Petit Verdot. It is a slightly down-sized version of the Proprietary Red. No.1. Rated 91 points by Parker, it is also sold on allocation at the Retail price of $50. The 2009 vintage of which only 212 cases were produced, was released in March 2012 and is already sold out. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 will be released in October this year.

Patel Wines, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon are quite age-worthy. ‘Give it another 2-3 years of cellaring and drink it over the following 20 years. ‘An impressive discovery during my sojourn in Northern California were these wines from Patel’, writes Robert Parker. Raj Patel says his wines may be enjoyed with or without food. For more information, visit

Dr. Madaiah Revana of Revana Family Vineyards

Dr. Madaiah Revana grew up in rural India near Bangalore in a family of farmers for generations. He also came to the USA in the summer of1973, a year after Raj Patel but after receiving his medical degree from Mysore Medical College. He studied  in New York and Philadelphia before moving to Dallas, Texas and finally to Houston, where he is a very successful cardiologist. First introduced to fine wines by friends, he was instantly enamoured by First Growths of Bordeaux and decided to buy vineyards in Napa Valley and make his own wine. Dr. Revana travelled to Europe and the US to learn about winemaking.

‘I bought the vineyards in 1997 and started planting in 1997 and 1998 and brought out our first vintage in 2001. I own 10 acres of vines and produce 15,000-20,000 bottles a year’, says the cardiologist-connoisseur who has the winery in St. Helena.  He has no problem selling his wine at $150, 75% of which is sold at the cellar door. Reason is not far to seek. Until last year, he used the services of a highly coveted winemaker, Heidi Peterson Barrett who had earlier made wines for Screaming Eagle for 14 years during which period it came to be known as a cult wine. Dubbed as the Wine Diva, First Lady of Wines and earning accolades and recognition, she worked with him for 10 years and was also the winemaker for the 2010 Premiere Cuvee that fetched $400 each for the Napa Valley Vintners who collected a record $3.1 million from the auction for their annual expense budgets for the educational and promotional activities.

Dr Revana is a modest, soft-spoken and down-to-earth person. As soon as the hammer went down and the Japanese team members of Nakagawa Wine Company were still hugging and congratulating each other for cornering the iconic wine, he walked up to the gentleman sitting in front of me and bidding on their behalf and thanked him profusely for the highest bid and for buying his wine.  His previous year’s offering was also bought by them, showing the immense popularity with the Japanese collectors.

Dr. Revana is also in love with Burgundy wines. His love for Bourgogne took him to Oregon, the Pinot Noir Capital of the USA, in 2005. There he met another well-known winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash in Willamette Valley and together with her founded a winery in the Dundee Hill Appellation and named it Alexana, after his daughter Alexandra Revana. The wines are also labeled as Alexana and knowing Madaiah’s passion to make top quality wines, it is merely a matter of time that you would be hearing about Revana or Alexana soon in India too.

Who knows, some hotel with discerning clients who want to share and recognize the success of Revana-or Patel, may soon have these wines in their portfolio?
For more information, visit

Subhash arora

Tag words: NVV, Napa Valley Vintners, Raj Patel, Madaiah Revanam, Alexana, St. Helena, Yountville, PNV



Rishi Vohra, CSW Says:

True wine success stories from professionals already successful in their fields. Wine entrepreneurs such as Raj Patel and Madaiah Revana are not written enough about, and I hope that this wine newsletter explores more inspiring stories such as these! Look forward to an opportunity to taste some of these wines in India!

Posted @ March 21, 2012 12:40


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