• Vida Valiente’s Valiant Project Is Helping Mentor Young Adults

    Vida Valiente’s Valiant Project Is Helping Mentor Young Adults
    Inspired by the vision of helping first-generation low-income students attain last-dollar college scholarships, Vida Valiente Winery made its debut in 2021, three years after the first vines in the Vida Valiente Estate were planted. This valiant and ambitious project is the inspiration of two families, the Drumwright’s and the Kaplan’s, who followed their hearts to Napa Valley in pursuit of their dreams and who are now helping others fulfill theirs. Vida Valiente translates into “Valiant Life”, a fitting name for a winery and charitable foundation who is providing mentorship and financial assistance to young people in adverse financial situations. At the moment the Vida Valiente Foundation pledge is to help twenty-five students a year at Stanford University with hopes of one day being able to help up to one hundred and fifty students.
    Susana Cueva Drumwright, Hayes Drumwright, Nancy Kaplan and Sam Kaplan are the four pillars of this heartfelt endeavor. All of them, who had previously found professional success on their own, have combined forces to produce Cabernet Sauvignon wines that reflect a unique sense of place. The Drumwright’s and Kaplan’s working relationship began in 2010 when Hayes and two of his friends founded Memento Mori Winery and enlisted Sam as the winemaker. It is no surprise that after the great success Memento Mori has had over the years the Drumwright’s and Kaplan's came together once again, this time to launch their own winery.
    The Vida Valiente 17-acre Estate is located at the base of Glass Mountain in St. Helena, California, but while they are finishing the winery they are receiving guests at a charming and welcoming tasting salon in Downtown Napa. It is here where we had the opportunity to try their four Cabernet Sauvignons and a delicious Chardonnay from Nancy’s and Sam’s personal project, MAXEM. As we tasted the wines, all of them from the 2021 vintage, it became clear how present the sense of place was in each one of them. The tasting began with the Vida Valiente High Ranch Cab from the Coombsville AVA which was fresh and showcased welcoming tannins for a smooth finish. It was one of the most intriguing Cabs we enjoyed during the trip. Following was the Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon which possessed bolder fruit but without compromising the elegance found in the High Ranch. An interesting note on this wine is that it came from the only replanted portion of the famed vineyard. Next in the lineup was The Estate Cabernet Sauvignon which we simply have to describe as yummy. The wine showcased delicious fruit, elegance and a structure that permitted the wine to be enjoyed at the moment but that would also provide it longevity if it were to be cellared. A neat part of the history of this wine is that the vines in the Estate vineyard were the first vines to be planted on the former walnut orchard and that every member of the two families, parents and kids, planted a row. To conclude, we tasted The Movement, a Cabernet Sauvignon featuring grapes from all of the vineyards they source fruit from. We found the wine to be fruit forward and nicely rounded. An impressive $100.00 from each bottle sold of this wine goes to support the Vida Valiente Foundation.
    As Vida Valiente continues to mature as a winery and foundation, it is the resilience and bravery that Susana learned from her fearless mother, the spirit of a second lease on life that Hayes embraced after surviving cancer at 20, the discipline Nancy acquired as a CIA-trained chef crafting Michelin star food and the passion for making wine that Sam learned to appreciate from his father as a child in Oklahoma that will continue inspiring the youth they are mentoring to fulfill their dreams. The Vida Valiente project might be young but it already has a layered history that a Cabernet Sauvignon lover would want to learn more about.