Diamond Mountain District is a relatively small AVA at the northern end of Napa Valley. The eponymous Diamond Mountain forms part of the Mayacamas Mountains, which divide Napa from Sonoma Valley. Like most of the rest of the famous area, Diamond Mountain District’s wines are based largely on Cabernet Sauvignon, making big, bold red wines with good structure and a lot of potential for cellaring.
Rudy and Rita von Strasser set out looking for a vineyard property to make their home. Having already developed a deep passion and talent for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Rudy was committed that the property must be in a microclimate blessed with the ability to grow and produce the finest red wines in Napa Valley; wines worthy to carry the von Strasser family name. Serendipitously, the old Roddis Estate Winery on Diamond Mountain had just been put on the market, and in the spring of 1990, the von Strasser label was born.
The history of the property reads like a who’s who of early California Cabernet History. After being denied a permit to turn his estate into a golf course, William Bounsall decided to subdivide his property, and in 1968 sold 1/3 of his property to Albert Brounstein. Canadian born, Al pioneered the modern decade of winemaking in this AVA by planting Cabernet Sauvignon in three distinct vineyard sites and bottling each separately under the name Diamond Creek Vineyards. The next year, 1969, Bounsall himself decided to get into the grape business and planted 2 acres to Cabernet Sauvignon with bud-wood from the famous Martha’s Vineyard. In 1978, Bill Roddis bought the Bounsall ranch and started Roddis Cellars. The wines were made by Andre Tcheistcheff, and in their days where considered by many to be the biggest wines made in the Napa Valley. In 1985, the winery was sold to the Gilby family (British gin), who used it as a corporate retreat. The vineyards, now totaling about 7 acres, were leased to Pine Ridge Winery, who bottled the grapes separately as their “Diamond Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1990, Rudy and Rita von Strasser bought the property and began the fulfilling task of renovating and modernizing the estate and the vineyards to make the property one of the gems of Diamond Mountain.
The building that houses the winery is an historic barn that was built in the late 1880’s. Through careful planning it has been remodeled into a modern winemaking facility while retaining its working-ranch charm. To take full advantage of the hillside location and to better control the variables of winemaking, the von Strassers added caves to their property. Dug into the virgin hills, these caves retain an ideal climate for barrel aging, and average temperature of 55 degrees and an average humidity of 80% initial taste read “coffee and chocolate followed by red currant on the nose that leads to a powerful and intense burst on the palate. The strength of the palate is moderated by detailing a stony mineral flavor, with freshness to shift the dark blueberry-skin chewiness of the tannins.