How Did You Fall in Love with Wine? -An Interview with Mother-Son Duo, Delia and Alan Viader

5 years ago threadsandvino 16

“So how did you fall in love with wine?”

This is the question to ask Delia Viader. I’ve never seen someone get so excited and light up responding to a question. It’s clear that both Delia and her son Alan are passionate about what they do, and their enthusiasm is contagious.


Meeting this genuine and dynamic duo was a dream come true. I attended a class at UC Davis circa 2008 where they brought us to meet Delia and tour the Viader property. After her tour and listening to her thoughts about the wine industry it was clear to me that women in the wine industry were making waves no matter the obstacles. Talk about inspiring. Fast forward to August 13th, 2018 I got to see the incredible transformation of her and her son pushing the wine industry envelope. “Wine is about discovery”, she says.  “I like to try different things, in many ways remain rookies. Rookies mean discovery, they aim to present things in a new way. No matter how old you get you always want to see things in a new way, because that never gets old.” Which showcases the theme of our visit and tasting. Discovery – pushing the envelope- never backing down no matter the risks, and yes I’m talking about winemaking.

“Wine is of a place – it should tell a story of the terroir site,” Alan explains. Which is one of the reasons why I loved their wines so much. Each wine is carefully crafted to represent each individual block of vineyard they farm. Alan is not only the winemaker, but the vineyard manager as well. “I grew up playing in this vineyard, now I am managing this vineyard and making wine from this vineyard. She {Delia} raised the vineyard manager and winemaker,” Alan boasts. It is clear to see that he values showcasing the fruit and allowing it to tell their story. A constant theme with the Viader’s is their ability to express a feeling through their wines. Making their wine not only delicious, but an experience in a glass.


Each wine that we tasted gave off a different vibe and transported you. The first wine, DARE Cabernet Franc, was bright, fruity, and fun. It’s a wine that I would be excited to bring to a dinner party because it would impress and please almost anyone’s palate. Delia describes the DARE as “cutesy but evolving”. A wine that is tasty up front, but then transports you to a more complex and interesting place and keeps you wanting more. “I don’t have another opportunity to invite you back, the aromatics and first sip say come back.”



The next wine we tried was the VIADER “Signature” blend. This is their flagship wine that put them on the map. When Delia originally planted her vines most of the wine community said she was crazy. “The crazy lady at the top of the hill they used to call me” she says. When Delia purchased the property she decided to plant 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Cabernet Franc, and tiny bit of Petite Verdot on a 1,375ft elevation, 32% slope. Producing the initial VIADER proprietary blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with 40% Cabernet Franc. This was unheard of in 1989 – their initial wine release. Years later they added Malbec (an Argentinean clone) and Syrah plantings with clones from Hermitage area in France and the Barrossa valley in Australia to compare.

Alan showed us how they carefully picked the grapes on such a slope. The pickers have to drag their leg down the hill while harvesting to keep their balance. To give you a little context 1,375ft elevation and 32% slope is a double diamond ski slope. So when sipping this wine not only do you enjoy the deliciously rich flavors, but you are enjoying wine from an incredibly unique place and vineyard. The terroir expresses itself in the glass leaving your palate full of vivacious flavors. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and the percentages shift each year depending on the vintage. Only the best lots go into Viader creating the liquid cashmere quality they are known for.

viader-cabernet-interview with delia viader-interview with alan viader


Our third wine of the day was the Viader Black Label. This is Alan’s version of Viader. It was great to see the difference in the wines. One wine is more Delia’s palate and the other more Alan’s. The Viader Black Label had some more robust characteristics than the flagship Viader. Mostly made up Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec, it was a vibrant and intense wine. Alan used 4-5 different yeasts, sometimes allowing the native yeast to take off and inoculating later to ensure more of a terroir presence in the wine. A spicy, robust, and delicious wine, Alan’s blend can be served with a steak or spicy and bold dishes like those from his wife’s {Mariela} home country of Guatemala. Alan really put his imprint on his wine, a little more extraction, a little more oak infusion, and his first solo project as a winemaker.


The final wine of the day was their unreleased Homenaje. This wine spoke to me for so many reasons. It had incredible fruit and complexity, with so much love behind it. The Homenaje was created to pay homage to the previous generations of Viader. Alan’s grandfather, his mother Delia, and Viader Vineyard and Winery’s 30-year anniversary. Alan says, “I want to show where we are now and where we have been in this wine.” The blend is made up of 50% Malbec and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. They did a lot of phenolic sampling up to harvest to ensure they had a high color, high tannin, and good longevity filled wine.

This new blend is something completely different for them. Alan interned in Mendoza, Argentina – the Malbec capitol of the world, and now he is bringing his passion for Malbec to the family brand. “I’ve embraced Cabernet Franc, but have been dabbling in Malbec and that is where my passion lies, like her {Delia} with Cabernet Franc. I wanted to make a statement too.” Alcohol + tannins + acid = a harmonious wine. This wine embodies all of that and packs a delicious punch. Notes of dark fruit, smoky complexity, and a supple finish – the Homenaje blend will make the Viader family proud.

In Wine There is Truth

It is clear that both Delia and her son Alan have a love affair with wine. Delia’s stems from her love of Bordeaux and California Cabernet Franc, while Alan’s stems from Mendoza and his love of Malbec. Together they make incredible wines to share with the world.

If you ever get a chance to visit Napa Valley Viader is a MUST VISIT. Or if you can’t make it to Napa, trust me.. pick up a bottle of Viader. For some people it’s a splurge but is so incredibly worth it. You will not be disappointed!

Because I had such an incredible and experience tasting with Delia and Alan there will be another two posts coming soon. One focused on their family journey and another focused on visiting their winery. Make sure to stay tuned for more wine inspiration from the Viader family and like Delia says “always keep exploring.”