Alpha Omega Winery – Begin or End Your Napa Valley Adventure Here
An Interview with Matt Brain, Alpha Omega Winemaker
An Interview with Matt Brain
Alpha Omega Winery remains one of my perennial favorite wineries to visit and recommend to serious wine tourists in Napa Valley. I was excited to revisit the Alpha Omega portfolio and interview its newly promoted winemaker, Matt Brain. Matt holds a winemaking degree from UC Davis and a Master of Science in Biosciences from Sam Houston State University where he was also a decathlete. He is currently Alpha Omega’s head winemaker and has a passion for sustainability. He is a Podcast Host for The Vineyard Team, an organization that promotes sustainable wine-growing. Matt discussed his fortunate position in being able to work with the superior vineyards of Alpha Omega and sourced grapes from famous vineyards like the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard.
He enjoys working with single vineyard wines that show-off the nuances of terroir,* especially noting the differences with the Drew Vineyard and Toyon Vineyard Chardonnays ,a contrast of opulent ripeness of a classic Napa Valley floor vs. the racy acidity from the cooler terroir of the Carneros region.
I asked Matt Brain about his “Ah-Ha” moment in wine.
Matt stated, “I grew up in the Toronto, Canada area. Yet, I was invited as a young man to a formal matched-pairing wine dinner at Friendswood Country Club in Texas that made its mark. It was a transformational moment for me that drew me to studying wine.”
Alpha Omega History
Alpha Omega Winery has the perfect setting for a wine tasting. The landmark water fountains framing the outside tasting area offer a lovely venue to sit and watch the sun set over the Mayacamas Mountains on the Valley’s west side. In this picture co-owner Michelle Baggett sits sipping an Alpha Omega rosé wine in front of their iconic fountains. I interviewed co-owner Michelle Baggett for a November 2020 article featured in PrimeWomen Magazine: 9 Award-Winning Wine Companies Go Virtual.
Robin and Michelle Baggett moved to Napa Valley and started as a grape-growers beginning with 750 acres. In 2006 the winery doors opened featuring luxurious tasting rooms, library-surrounded board rooms, and a large outdoor tasting area. The Baggett’s now own three important wineries with “The Alpha Omega Collective” including Alpha Omega in Napa Valley, Tolosa in San Luis Obispo, CA, and Perinet Winery (Mas Perinet) in the Priorat Region of Spain. See Newsletter: “A Wine Lover’s Favorite: Spain’s Priorat Wine Region - at the Foot of “God’s Ladder.”
Alpha Omega has won numerous high rankings including 100-Points in Wine Advocate for its 2018 Beckstoffer To Kalon vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Andy Erickson, who has worked with many notable wineries including Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate, works in conjunction with Matt Brain and offers his expertise to Alpha Omega.
Visiting Alpha Omega
Private tasting experiences can be arranged via reservation with costs ranging from $50 to $150 per person with a choice of tasting menus from Private Single Vineyard Tastings to the flagship ERA tastings. Groups of up to eight guests can ensconce themselves in one the indoor Private Tasting Rooms for a seated tasting.
Best of Portfolio Tasting
It was difficult to select my “best of” wines among the vast collection at Alpha Omega. Here are some of the best:
88% Cabernet Sauvignon – available by mailing list 3-pack $930 or Futures at $765.
This wine is concentrated yet approachable with elegant and savory notes of red and black fruit, leather, and nutmeg aromas. This wine has an extremely long, silky finish. My favorite of the tasting.
2018 Napa Valley Merlot, $100
With red and black plums, raspberry, violet and subtle chervil herb notes, and graphite tones, this wine has a wonderful mouthfeel and a great food-friendly sense.
This wine features an explosion of brioche, apricots, salted caramels, and cedar on the nose and fruit, honey and white chocolate on the palate….a delicacy.
This special SB has an integrated barrel character due to the 15 months spent in barrel including 25% new French oak, a little acacia influence, and a 4% Semillion blend….what a unique way to vinify Sauvignon Blanc. The Asian pear, white peach, and baking spice notes won me over from a traditional stainless steel vinification.
I am a huge fan of the St. Émilion and Pomerol regions of Bordeaux, so I had high expectations for this wine. It did not disappoint me and paid homage to its French counterparts…with its perfect match of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
*What is Terroir? “Terroir” is a French term representing the special combination of climate, soil, geography, elevation, and growing conditions that are unique to a vineyard or viticulture region. Does this wine express the aromas, body, and flavor of its terroir? Does it have a “sense of place?” The good ones often do.
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