1885 Rennie Brothers
James and William Rennie, brothers who immigrated to Napa Valley from Scotland, plant 60 acres of vineyard and build a stone wine cellar at the end of West Zinfandel Lane in St. Helena.
The brothers install Napa Valley’s first gasoline-powered hydraulic press, and by 1893 they are bottling their own wine.
A fire reportedly started by candles damages the winery and destroys the press and all the cooperage at Rennie Brothers.
With the vine disease phylloxera taking its toll on the Rennie Brothers vineyards, the brothers sell the winery and vineyard property.
Learn more about Napa Valley History
1904-1933 A Ghost Winery
The winery property changes hands three times. Although the vines are replanted with phylloxera-resistant rootstock, Prohibition becomes the law of the land and no wine is made.
The stone winery falls into disrepair, becoming one of Napa Valley’s “ghost wineries.” Today Flora Springs makes a 100% Malbec in honor of the Ghost Winery.
1933-1977 The Martini Years
Louis M. Martini, knowing that the end of Prohibition is nearing, buys the old Rennie Brothers property. He replaces the existing home with a new stone mansion and uses it as a residence with his wife, Assunta.
The old stone cellar is used primarily for aging wine as Louis builds his eponymous winery elsewhere in St. Helena. Louis dies in 1974 and Assunta follows soon afterward. The Martini estate lays vacant until 1977.
1977 A New Era Begins
Jerry and Flora Komes purchase the old Rennie Brothers property from the Martini estate, including 325 acres of land and 60 acres of vineyard.
The couple, particularly Flora, are drawn to the abandoned property despite the dilapidated state of the buildings and winery, which has a dirt floor and still bears char marks from the 1900 fire.“Lots of people looked at the property but said it was too big a project. But it called to Flora.” – Julie Komes Garvey
1978 Flora Springs Winery Founded & Named for Flora Komes
John and Carrie Komes and Julie and Pat Garvey establish Flora Springs Winery, naming it after Flora, John and Julie’s mother, and the natural springs that run through the property.
“My parents intended to be gentlemen farmers and sell all the grapes. But Julie and I fell in love with the property and the idea of making wine. Once my mom’s name was on the label it became Dad’s job to make sure it didn’t fail.” – John Komes
“Outside of a home, it had all the things we weren’t looking for,” joked Jerry, who had recently retired as president of the Bechtel Corporation.
1978 First Crush
John, Julie and their spouses enlist the help of friends to harvest grapes from the newly-purchased estate. The first crush yields 200 cases of wine made with home winemaking equipment.
For the first two harvests John Komes seeks the advice of Consulting Winemaker Mary Ann Graf, the first female graduate of the Viticulture and Enology program at the University of California, Davis and one of the first female winemakers in the U.S.
Pat Garvey trades a teaching career for the role of managing Flora Springs’ vineyards.
1979-1980 Napa Valley Chardonnay Wins Gold
The 1979 crush at Flora Springs yields 400 cases of Chardonnay and 400 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Napa Valley Chardonnay wins a Gold Medal at the prestigious Los Angeles County Fair in 1980.
1978-1980’s Re-Building a Winery
John Komes’ background as a successful contractor is put to good use as he undertakes the gradual renovation of the old ghost winery building and other buildings on the Flora Springs property.
John renovates an old snake-infested “ruin” on the south side of the property which had once been used as a farmworkers’ bunkhouse. The dwelling becomes the home where he and his wife Carrie reside.
1981 Crossroads Ranch Purchase
The Komes-Garvey families purchase the Crossroads Ranch in Oakville. Eventually, the ranch is the site of the Holy Smoke Vineyard, the source of one of Flora Springs’ renowned Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons.
1984 First Trilogy Release
The first vintage of Trilogy, Flora Springs’ flagship wine, is produced.
In the beginning Trilogy was a blend of three red Bordeaux varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc – and was one of the earliest “meritage” wines in Napa Valley. Today, Trilogy may comprise up to five red Bordeaux varietals. The wine has won numerous awards and garnered critical acclaim year after year. Julie Garvey and a group of vintners establish the Meritage Association which helped boost the international reputation of American Bordeaux-style blends.
1980’s-1990’s Putting Flora Springs on the Map
Flora Springs’ reputation grows through family’s hard work.
Julie Garvey takes on the key marketing role, spreading the word about Flora Springs throughout the U.S.
1989 First Soliloquy Release
The first vintage of Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc, Flora Springs’ flagship white wine, is produced.
A Sauvignon Blanc sourced from the Crossroads Ranch in Oakville, Soliloquy is named for Flora Springs’ proprietary “Soliloquy” clone which was certified by the University of California, Davis in the 1980s.
1990’s Critical Acclaim
Flora Springs earns a place on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the Year six times in one decade.
In 1994, Flora Springs 1991 Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is awarded 97 points and lands the #3 spot on the Top 100 list. In 1999, Flora Springs 1996 Trilogy is awarded 94 points and lands the #37 spot on the Top 100 list.
1990 A First Growth
Flora Springs is awarded ‘First Growth Classification’ for its Chardonnays in James Laube’s book, California’s Great Chardonnays.
1990 A Wine for the White House
On May 31st Flora Springs 1987 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay is served at The White House at a dinner honoring President Gorbachev of the USSR and Mrs. Gorbachev.
Over the next six years Flora Springs wines are served at several dinners at The White House and the U.S. Capitol for heads of state, senators and government officials.
1992 Nat Komes, Joins Flora Springs
Nat, the son of John and Carrie Komes, starts his “official” career at Flora Springs with a sales position in southern California. Of couse, as the proprietors’ son, he’d held “unofficial” jobs at the winery since he could walk!
He was named General Manager in 2009 and serves on the winery’s Board of Directors.
1994 First Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Flora Springs creates its first single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Sourced from the winery’s estate vineyard, the 1994 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon earns 96 points from Wine Spectator upon its release in 1997.
1995 The Room
The Room in St. Helena is constructed.
With an eye-catching design that echoes the look of Flora Springs’ hillside estate, The Room gives the winery a presence on Highway 29 at the south entrance to the town of St. Helena.
1997 Cave Construction
Construction of Flora Springs’ hillside caves begins with 500 linear feet. The caves were expanded to 1000 linear feet in 2003, linking the courtyard to the winery.
The winery has its biggest harvest, producing 57,000 cases.
1997 20th Anniversary Wine
In celebration of its 20th anniversary Flora Springs creates a special single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Block C of its estate vineyard. Upon its release in 2000 the wine garners 98 points from Wine Spectator.
The winery continues to make a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Block C, bottling it as the Rennie Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
2001 Sean Garvey, Joins Winery
Sean Garvey, son of Proprietors Julie and Pat Garvey, joins Flora Springs as Northern California Sales Representative. Prior to that he’d worked on and off in the cellar, and in other capacities at the winery for most of his life!
In 2011 Sean was named Vineyard Manager for Flora Springs. Today he works side-by-side with his father, Vineyard Director Pat Garvey, farming the winery’s 350 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards.
2006 White Wine Winery Built
Flora Springs builds a winery specifically to handle the production of white wine. Called Casa Blanca, the winery is constructed to echo the footprint and lines of the original stone cellar, now used exclusively for red wine production.
2007 Solar Panels
Flora Springs installs 6,500 square feet of solar panels, mounted on a custom-designed structure that doubles as a storage and shade area. The panels generate 100,000 kilowatt hours annually, which covers all the energy needed for red wine production.
2008 Paul Steinauer Named Winemaker
Paul Steinauer is named winemaker after serving as assistant winemaker since 1990.
To this day, Paul crafts wines that beautifully express the well-nurtured fruit and distinct vineyards owned by the Komes and Garvey families.
2008 Going Organic
Holy Smoke and Out of Sight Vineyards, as well as Block A of the Komes Ranch (a source for Trilogy) are certified organic under the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) program.
2010 First Release of Ghost Winery
General Manager Nat Komes pays tribute to Flora Springs’ Ghost Winery by seeking out Virginia based artist Wes Freed, best known for his CD cover art for Drive By Truckers, to create a custom label for the first “Ghost Winery” wine. This spooky wine is a Great Tastes club member favorite.
Due to the wine’s popularity, Ghost Winery becomes a 100% Malbec and is now a product staple for Flora Springs Winery.
2011 Family Celebrates Flora’s 100th Birthday
Flora Komes celebrates her 100th
Flora’s Legacy, a limited-production wine made in honor of Flora Komes, is released.
2012 Pat Garvey Named Napa Valley Grower of the Year
Proprietor and Vineyard Director Pat Garvey receives the prestigious Napa Valley Grower of the Year, an annual award bestowed by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers.
Pat led many important industry initiatives in Napa Valley, including the creation of the Oakville and Rutherford appellations. “Farming sustainably is important to me as a farmer, a father and a grandfather. Our farming practices ensure not only that this winery will be around for future generations, but that this land will be, too.”
2015 New Logo, Labels, Packaging
Flora Springs unveils a new logo, labels and packaging for its entire line of wines.
“While critical elements of the original design have been retained, the new package tells the Flora Springs story in a more compelling way,” says General Manager Nat Komes.
2017 40th Anniversary!
Flora Springs celebrates its 40th anniversary in Napa Valley, the 30th vintage of Trilogy, and the 15th annual Trilogy Release Party on February 4, 2017!
2017 Wine Country Fires
In October 2017 Flora Springs survives wine country firestorms. All the benchland and valley floor vineyards are thankfully intact, as is the beloved old stone Ghost Winery.
Read the blog and watch the video