Theorem Vineyards create wines that tell the story of the site and the soils from which they originate. Along with their renown winemaker, Thomas Rivers Brown, their philosophy begins with using the highest quality fruit—only the best of their yield makes it into the barrel. The end result is an elegant wine that is a pure expression of the site, soil, and vintage.
There’s a feeling you get at Theorem.
That you’ve arrived at the right place.
It starts in just as you enter though the unmarked gate, a lift in spirit that matches the driveway’s ascension up above the tree line to drink in the breathtaking views of the Palisades Mountains… then it takes on new, deeper life with your first exquisite sip as you’re greeted with a wine glass the moment you step out of your car. You’ve arrived.
Tasters who visit here aren’t the only lucky ones. Those with the pleasure of working at Theorem remember a love-at-first-sight moment here as well.
James Cerda, Theorem’s VP of Operations, recalls his first arrival. It wasn’t just the stellar pedigree of the artists working here, there was an enchantment about the location itself that drew him in, “When I got there and saw the grounds, it was a no-brainer. The property has something for everyone. Guests with a design eye all love the attention to detail, while those with a construction or architectural background drink in the interplay between our historical renovations and out modern winery.”
Cerda was born and raised in Sonoma, with a history in the wine industry that has moved him up through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Even in his first days as a sommelier, however, he already knew that a vital component to any wine experience was the sense of place a bottle can invoke, “I want to wrap them up in the story of the property and get them completely immersed in why they should care about this wine.”
There’s much to care about when it comes to Theorem’s elegant offerings,
all of which are only available for purchase at the winery or through the
Keepers of the Key – their invite-only membership named for the key immortalized as a sculpture on the grounds that also serves as their logo, which conveys a sense of welcome to a secret yet special place just for you.
Everything that has become of this property, and the wine it’s given the world, is due to the work of owners Kisha and Jason Itkin. They can remember visiting the Diamond Mountain property for the first time, too… back when it wasn’t yet the world of love-at-first-sight catnip. Kisha had dreams, but recalls, “It was pouring down rain and so overgrown that it was hard to look past everything that needed to be done…” –
– but look past that she did. Kisha wanted a personal connection with her property, an attachment that grew as she peeled back the layers. She wanted that for those who came to taste her wines as well. On her second visit, Kisha found that the smell of the soil reminded her of Africa, where she and Jason had recently visited, and was inspired to climb to the top of the property itself. There she first witnessed the view of Mt. St. Helena, “Unless you hiked to the top of the vineyard, you didn’t see the views.”
That was the day Kisha first felt that sense of arrival at Theorem, whose name is a tribute to her accomplished background in science and engineering. She would redesign the grounds to turn those previously hidden panoramas into a cherished feature at tasting vistas like Outlook Point. Indeed, everything Kisha and Jason have done since has been an effort of love to hone the experience itself…
… which is centered, of course, on the wine. For that, Kisha and Jason turned to viticulturalist Josh Clark and winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown. Both know that you can only make A+ wines from A+ sites and, at the time, Brown was already one of the most sought-after voices it the field. He boasts more 100-point scores than any other American winemaker – so he was not someone that tended to make house calls. When he and Clark took in the grounds of Theorem, however, they could tell that it had a high probability of making great wines. Just arriving there had done it again.
They started work at Theorem in 2012 and even produced their first vintage later that year. Meanwhile, they prepared for what would become the Theorem masterstroke. Brown and Clark could both tell by the fruit that there was something truly unique going on in one particular old-vine block that they chose to keep. That move would result in the wine that would become the flagship of the Theorem family of wines.
Just as Theorem’s name is in honor of Kisha’s scientific prowess, so Voir Dire is named in the spirit of Jason’s philosophies as one of the top 100 trial attorneys in the United States. Meaning “to speak the truth,” Voir Dire is 100% estate grown – as are all Theorem’s wines – from the same Cabernet Sauvignon vines Brown and Clark predicted would excel in making a high elevation red. They were right.
It’s far from the only key bottle in the Theorem experience. Voir dire isn’t even their only excellent Cab. Assistant Winemaker Kathleen Ward is also excited by the potential of their Hawk’s Prey Cabernet Sauvignon, “This young vine block surprises me each vintage. I have loved watching these vines grow over the years and tasting how the tannin structure has evolved and matured with them. Hawk’s Prey is definitely one of my favorites.” The block was named for the birds of prey that circled the Itkins as they planted the vineyard…
… which was just in 2014. That’s something startling about Theorem in general. For a place so accomplished, with wines so remarkable, it’s still a very young winery. Word of mouth, however, has been all this young gem has needed to shine. Kathleen has watched it happen, “Usually, before people have even left the property, they are planning their next tasting and inviting their friends to join. There is a feeling when you are here that you just want to stay.”
Ward also marvels at the success of their 2019 Chardonnay, “It’s brighter, not buttery and pairs amazing with food.” (Especially the delicious plates we at Monarch have enjoyed on our visit as well.). The grapes are picked at night and brought directly to the winery. Once pressed, the juice is transferred into a combination of new and neutral French Oak barrels, along with stainless steel drums, where it is fermented and aged. They age their Chardonnay on the lees to create mouthfeel and aromatic complexity.
All of which welcomes you the moment you arrive… that same bliss that was appreciated by Richard Beard, Theorem’s Head Architect, “The first time I visited the site, I was immediately aware of its uniqueness… there’s the history of the place which you can see as well as feel.” Beard is responsible for the restoration of 19 th Century buildings on the grounds like The Cole House (dating back to 1889) and the schoolhouse – the first ever built in Napa Valley – that is yet another symbol of Kisha’s intellect embodied in Theorem’s geography.
It is young and vibrant, but Theorem is also growing. Having found a trove of delicious flavors on Diamond Mountain… Theorem is now spreading wider to harness the wonders of Moon Mountain as well. Like the key on their bottle, Kisha and Jason are unlocking a delicious experience wherever they go. We greatly recommend you visit – experience that sense of arrival at Theorem as well – and unlock it all for yourself…