Dave began using the now famous Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria for his cabernets and merlots in 1984 (at this date, he is still one of the oldest customers of this vineyard). With over a decade of winemaking experience with Sisqoc grapes, he chose Bien Nacido for its exceptional fruit and its very pronounced personality. The Miller family, owners of Bien Nacido, have a remarkable commitment to quality, and their dedication has moved Bien Nacido to its current position as one of the most recognized vineyards in California.
By the mid 1980's, with the estate vineyard in production and nebbiolo and sangiovese showing their suitability for his vineyard site, Dave turned his attention to aglianico, considered the third great red Italian grape variety. Dave once again put his research skills to work, and through the assistance of the legendary Dr. Harold Olmo of UC Davis, located the three Aglianico vines that were in the United States. Located at the Federal Genome Plant Repository in Winters, California, the origin of the vines was later traced to some samples imported by UC Davis over 100 years ago. Cuttings from these vines were propagated and planted at the Caparone estate vineyard in 1988. The first American aglianico was harvested in 1992, and these vines proved, like sangiovese and nebbiolo, to be well suited to their site. The little vineyard plot along San Marcos Road, selected by Dave nearly 15 years before, proved to be a remarkable site. The three great red varieties of Italy all bore excellent fruit there, planted side by side. For Dave, this was a milestone; a culmination of 20 years of research, observation and hard work. The wines that continue to come from this vineyard continue to impress those familiar with the great wines of Italy, and the Zinfandel grown there has been extremely successful as well. As he has since 1980, Dave continues to meticulously farm his vineyard, now assisted by his son Marc.
As the Aglianico planting began to bear fruit in the early '90s, Dave once again turned his attention to Nebbiolo. The variety is very clonally variable, and at long last, new clones were beginning to appear in America. Dave's article gives additional information about the new clone, which was planted in the late '90s.
Over the last two and a half decades, the wines Dave and Marc have produced from their small vineyard and from Bien Nacido have received much praise from those who have extensive experience with the great wines of the world. The Caparones have chosen not to extensively promote themselves, preferring instead to concentrate on quietly growing grapes and making wine, selling the product of their labor to the many friends and followers they have acquired. "I have had many opportunities to grow over the years," says Dave, "but our focus has always been on the tasks of winemaking and farming the vineyard. I'm a winemaker, I don't want to become a manager."
Today the winery produces small lots of each varietal. Marc Caparone, who grew up with winemaking all around him, now handles much of the winemaking and manual labor. "I want to continue what we've started here - a small winery that produces high quality wines using artisan techniques," says Marc, "what other kind of winemaking could be more interesting?"Back to Page 2