When people visit Realm Cellars today, they don’t see what we see.

To them, Realm is an established winery in the Stags Leap District, with vineyards stretching from the Silverado Trail to the top of Wappo Hill, a modern wine cellar with shiny new equipment, and wines served in elegant glasses by a staff of professionals. They see something that’s smooth around the edges, they see success...

We see the road that got us here.

A rough road with potholes and unexpected turns. A grand experiment in risk taking, a string of fits and starts with more than its fair share of setbacks. We see going into debt, begging growers for fruit, working with borrowed equipment, harvesting until three AM, selling bottles one at a time. We see losing an entire vintage to fire, divorce, debt, more debt, near dissolution, and then finally, finally... a break, a rebirth. Even with our successes, we’ve never been short of challenges, and we’re certain that more lay ahead.

When we look at Realm today, we see it in its entirety, and that’s the story we present here. It’s not short and it’s not fluffy. It’s real. If you want to understand how we got to where we are today, this is the place to do it.

January 2, 2017

Realm Estate: Year One

Realm Estate

We closed on the Hartwell property on December 30, 2015, and a new chapter began for Realm Cellars. After thirteen years of making wine, we had a home. A winery and a vineyard -- an Estate! It kind of blew our minds. Benoit had worked on this property for over ten years, so it wasn’t exactly new to him. What was new to him - and to us – was the concept of owning the place. We went from renters to owners overnight, with all the responsibility that entails. When the reservoir got clogged with leaves from a heavy rain, Andy and the team went and shoveled it out. When the front gate wouldn’t open, Eden figured out how to get it fixed. When a falling branch knocked out the electricity, Juan called PG&E. There was no landlord, no property manager. And to be honest, there’d been some delayed maintenance.

READ "REALM ESTATE: YEAR ONE" (11 MIN READ)




February 2, 2016

Growing Pains

February 2, 2016. The day of our Spring 2016 release. It was not a good day, to be honest. The wine sold out in three hours, but a lot of our long-time customers weren’t happy. We had never been a wait-listed, high-demand brand that sells out in a few hours; it caught us all by surprise. We knew there was momentum, but we didn’t anticipate how quickly people would be on the computer to order wine, and we didn’t allow enough time for the customers who would normally place an order. Talk about growing pains. We felt terrible. We did a video to apologize. And we changed our allocation approach.

SPRING RELEASE 2016 OFFERING HAS CLOSED (2:53)   Video Published 2/4/2016

December 30-31, 2015

(24 Hours)

December 30, 2015: The day Realm Cellars completed the purchase of the Hartwell Estate on 5795 Silverado Trail in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. The deal included the winery, caves and 15 acres of vineyards.

Text message from Benoit Touquette to Scott Becker (verbatim):

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December 17, 2015

Finding a Home

2013 SINGLE VINEYARD RELEASE (2:53)   Video published 1/12/2016

We always knew Realm needed its own winery. It was the logical and necessary next step. We’d made wine at Boswell since 2007, and it had been a good home, but it was like sharing a kitchen - a little out of our control. We started looking around in 2014 and considered a lot of properties. But none of them were quite right. About the same time, Benoit proposed the idea of approaching Bob and Blanca Hartwell about the Hartwell Estate Vineyards property in Stags Leap. Benoit had made wine for the Hartwells since 2004, and had been viticulturist for the estate since 2008. He knew the property well and understood its potential. He also knew the family was thinking about downsizing their operation.

READ "FINDING A HOME" (2 MIN READ)


December 1, 2014

With Gratitude to our Growers

In the winter of 2014 Realm held its first annual Grower Dinner. It was the first time we were able to formally recognize and thank the growers who supply us with grapes. Some of these growers had been with us since the very beginning. They’d stuck with us through some pretty tough times. Without them, there would be no Realm.

GROWER DINNER (4:00)   Video published 12/1/2014

February 22, 2014

Starting to Get Noticed

Success in the wine business is often incremental, and the milestones can be as varied as convincing a sought-after grower to sell you wine grapes to getting a placement on a Michelin three star restaurant’s wine list. In February 2014 Realm’s showing at the Napa Valley Vintners’ annual Premiere Napa Valley gave us reason to believe we were on to something.

PREMIERE NAPA VALLEY 2014 (1:23)   Video published 2/22/2014

August 13, 2013

Developing a Vision

As the harvest of 2013 got underway, there was shared excitement at the new vision for Realm, but also a realization that there was a long way to go. The bar only got higher.

OUR VISION (1:17)   Video published 10/22/2013

March 1, 2013

The Whole Story

This is the story of Realm Cellars’ beginnings, how it got started and its first dozen years of operating in Napa Valley. It was originally published to coincide with the launch of a new website and the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the winery. At the time, Realm was heading into its 12th vintage, but it was still far from an established Napa Valley winery. For authenticity, this is re-published in its entirety (with minor edits to formatting).

It was October 12, 2005, I was washing bins, getting them ready for the next morning’s pick and I got the call. The warehouse in Vallejo where we stored our wines was on fire. Our entire second vintage – all of our 2003 wines – were in that building. I knew it wasn’t good. But I figured, you know what? There’s nothing I can do about it, and I kept on washing the bins. I was hopeful, but deep down inside I knew. We’re toast.

READ "THE WHOLE STORY" (36 MIN READ)