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The Vintner

Dr. Jan Krupp

Dr. Jan KruppThe odds were stacked against the Krupp brothers. They faced a desert mountain landscape with no power, no legal right of access, no known water, and what eventually amounted to one billion pounds of rock and boulder that had to be removed. But Jan and Bart saw potential in their red, volcanic soils. They knew the climate and conditions on the eastern peak’s southwest-facing slope were ideal for growing superb grapes, and Jan, a Bay Area internist with a medical degree from Stanford, was hungry for the joy he once felt working his mother’s New England gardens and his uncle’s Virginia farm. Over the years an amateur interest in finely crafted wines had blossomed into full-blown oenophilia, with weekdays in the doctor’s office followed by weekends in the cellar making home wines with friends…and a substantial collection of gold medals from local winemaking competitions gathering dust on his shelves.

When he bought those first 41 acres, Jan continued work as a full-time doctor and a part-time viticulturalist.  Then, an adjoining 750 acres on the south side of Pritchard Hill captured his attention, and despite its potential pitfalls, neither he nor his brother could be dissuaded.

The pair formed a partnership and the search for water began. They turned to a geologist who identified several potential sites and told them to drill 300 feet. Each time they hit nothing but dirt. With science failing them, they ignored their deep skepticism and hired a water witch, who pointed her divining rod to a patch and instructed them to drill – directly into a river flowing 400 feet underground, which would forever provide water to over half a million grapevines.

The snaking road up to their vineyards took many months of red tape and required 135 legal documents to approve, but only a month to build. Once it was in place, the brothers lit their sticks of dynamite, cleared the boulders (some the size of SUVs), and began planting 100 acres a year. They also began diligently replanting native riparian vegetation, and committed themselves to restoring and maintaining their rare and wild ecosystem. Stagecoach grew to include another 500 acres, and in 1999, Jan and Bart purchased the neighboring 50-acre plot that became Krupp Brothers Vineyard. That same year, they put their first wine, Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon, into bottle.

Krupp Brothers winery was born. And it didn’t take long for Napa Valley stalwarts like Caymus, Paul Hobbs, Pahlmeyer, and Cardinale to start clamoring for the Krupp Brothers' precious grapes.