Walt and Katherine
Walt and Katherine Schlotfeldt have visited and developed relationships in California wine country for decades. In 2012 they committed to finding a second home in the Napa Valley. They found an ideal 42-acre ranch in the hills above St. Helena with 11.5 acres planted to cabernet sauvignon. Their philosophy has always been to nurture and care for their property and to try to make everything the very best possible. In 2015 they enlisted renowned viticulturist Jim Barbour, who had developed the property 25 years ago, to manage, upgrade and expand their vineyards. Today, Denali Estate has been recognized as a premier hillside vineyard location.
Thomas Rivers Brown
Originally from Sumter, South Carolina, Thomas Rivers Brown made his way to Napa Valley in the mid 1990’s after graduating from the University of Virginia and after wine travels throughout France. Thomas began his career with some of the best vintners in the industry. A quick study as cellar hand and lab enologist for famed winemakers Ehren Jordan and Larry Turley of Turley Wine Cellars. Today, Thomas spearheads winemaking operations for numerous top-echelon Napa Valley wineries such as Schrader, Outpost, Maybach, Revana, TOR, C. Mondavi, Jones Family, Harris Estate, Hestan, Seaver, Black Sears, and more. He has developed the Mending Wall custom crush winery to serve as his studio in producing fantastic wines!
According to many, including David White of The Terroirist Wine Journal, “Thomas Brown is the nation’s hottest winemaker.” Thomas Brown is one of only a handful of winemakers globally to have received multiple 100-point wine scores from penultimate wine critic Robert Parker Jr. of The Wine Advocate, as well as from wine critic luminary, James Laube of The Wine Spectator. In 2010, Thomas was honored as Food & Wine Magazine “Winemaker of the Year.” Thomas started as winemaker for Denali Estate with the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, taking the best characteristics of the vineyard and highlighting those flavors, as he has done for so many other fine wine brands.
In his 40-year career, Jim Barbour has planted and managed some of Napa Valley’s most highly regarded vineyards and collaborated with leading winemakers to create some of Napa Valley’s finest wines. He has made a lifelong commitment to providing the best viticulture service in Napa Valley vineyards. He has continued to serve as an advocate for responsible and sustainable farming practices.
Jim was born in San Francisco, moved to Napa Valley as a child, and was raised in Rutherford on his family’s ranch along Highway 29. Their Gamay, Mondeuse, and Petit Bouschet crops were harvested for Gallo’s jug program. He graduated from UC-Davis with a bachelor’s degree in plant science (viticulture) and returned to Napa Valley to begin a career that would lead him to become one of its foremost viticulturists. Jim worked with Laurie Wood at Frank Wood & Sons until Laurie’s retirement in 1990 and when Jim started Barbour Vineyards Management & Development.
Jim is an avid outdoorsman and devoted fly fisherman. When he’s not in a vineyard, he can be found in the running waters of a stream filled with rainbows and browns.