Cabell’s career started in Burgundy, France picking grapes during a semester abroad. After graduation, he returned to Burgundy to work in vineyards throughout Cote de Nuits. Cabell had the privilege to work some of the very last vintages under Jacky Truchot and Henri Jayer. Cabell attended Lincoln University in New Zealand, earning graduate degrees in Enology and Viticulture. Cabell’s passion for cool climate viticulture and methodical winemaking led to winemaking positions at Dumol, Alder Springs Vineyard, and Kosta Browne. Two decades of harvests have led Cabell to turn farming, science, and the elements of nature into one craft.
Cabell’s winemaking philosophy is that of “Grower First.” Under Cabell’s guidance, the small, year-round vineyard team at Coursey Graves farms over 90% of the fruit harvested from the Sonoma and Napa vineyards. Cabell approaches winemaking with an intention to preserve freshness and a concept of purity and ageability. The result is a wine deeply tied to both a moment in time and Cabell’s culminating vision.
“I want to advance the perception of exceptional California wine. I want to be a leader in the new wave of winemakers focused on ageability and terroir. I want to show that great wines don’t come from a zip code; they are born from remarkable soil, climate, viticulture, and winemaking."
After 3 decades as the Founder/CEO of Convey Compliance Systems in Minnetonka, MN, John Graves refocused his efforts to his two passions: philanthropy and wine.
THE GRAVES FOUNDATION
After the sale of his business, John and his wife, Denise, established the Graves Foundation with a focus on closing the equity gaps of underprivileged youth in Minnesota. The foundation pledges to programs aimed at the prevention of youth homelessness, assisting young adults transitioning out of foster care, and addressing racial equity and access in education.
VINEYARDS AND WINERY
As an avid collector of wines, John’s interest eventually sparked a desire to create the kinds of wines he had sought after. In 2015, John purchased 40 acres overlooking Bennett Valley. Partnering with Cabell Coursey, they revitalized the estate’s small, south-southwest blocks of Bordeaux and Rhône varietals with a focus on soil quality and vine health by way of organic viticultural practices. Choosing vines and adapting practices to match the character of the site, they capture the quintessential structure and site-specificity that rocky, volcanic soils and marine-influenced vineyards are famous for.
The craggy hillside of the Graves Vineyard is a place where the distinction between rock and soil is unusually blurred. Varying sizes of fragmented basalt and andesite rock and volcanic sediment is uniquely sparse of the moisture and biological material that would otherwise deem it as soil.
Daytime temperatures are moderated by a coastal stratus and onshore wines, but a temperature inversion warms the vineyard through the night and into the early morning.
Our generative viticulture describes farming practices that, among other benefits, foster water and air quality, maintain ecosystem biodiversity, naturally produce low-yields of highly concentrated fruit, and minimize the physical, biological, and chemical disturbances of the soil to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Naturally low-yielding vines produce grapes with unrivaled concentration of tannin, acid, and flavor. There is a purity of acidity, aromatics, and fruit - without an imbalance of phenolic dryness - that results in supple, moutherwatering, age-worthy wines.