In the photo, from the left, Founders William Jarvis, President since 1985; Roberto Mendez, Cellar Master, since 1991; Dimitri Tchelistcheff, Vineyard and Winemaking, since 1988; Deanna Martinez, Administration, since 1987; Leticia Jarvis, Vice President, since 1985.
Founders were honored with individually engraved Tastevins symbolizing the classic method of sampling wines in dark tunnels.
William and Leticia Jarvis
William and Leticia Jarvis acquired the lovely mountain side property, previously known as the Peter Gasser Estate, in 1984. They immediately became interested in wine making and they both followed a study program in viticulture and wine making at UC Davis. Two existing lakes on the property proved ideal to moderate the climate for the 37 acres of vineyard that were ultimately planted. The first harvest in 1988 was attended by Dimitri Tchelistcheff who has been the wine making consultant at Jarvis ever since that time.
After the first harvest there continued four years of intensive experimental grape and wine production leading to the first commercial wine in 1992. The winery formerly opened its doors in 1995 featuring the 1992 production.
The winery is situated in a 45,000 square foot cave excavated into the side of a mountain on the estate. The cave is notable for its production of world class wines and for its large underground chambers and bronze doorways. The sparkling Crystal Chamber and the expansive Barrel Chai (which is larger than two basketball courts) are unique reception areas and have been sources of amazement to visitors. In order to naturally maintain a high level of humidity a natural spring was routed through the cave, creating a beautiful but functional underground stream.
Dimitri Tchelistcheff arrived in the Napa Valley with his father, Andre Tchelistcheff, in 1938. They had traveled from France to arrive in Napa just in time for the first major harvest of grapes following the 1933 end of prohibition. Andre Tchelistcheff was a graduate of the University of Brno in Czechoslovakia where he studied agronomy. He also attended the French Institut Pasteur and Institut National Agronomique university of Montpelier at its campus in Paris France. Andre Tchelistcheff was thus well prepared to be a decisive influence in Napa Valley's rise to prominence as a wine making region. Little did he realize at that time, however, that Napa would eventually become the leading wine making region in the world.
In 1988 when William Jarvis solicited Andre Tchelistcheff to consult for the new Jarvis winery, Andre replied that he was then finishing his career but that his son Dimitri was a consultant and in some areas knew more than he did. Dimitri had followed his Father's education example and graduated in 1953 from the School of Oenology at the University of California at Davis and was a practicing international consultant in wine making. Dimitri accepted his appointment as consultant at Jarvis in 1988 and in the year 1994 expanded his role to become full time winemaker at Jarvis. In 2009 he adopted his current role as full time consultant with Ted Henry as full time winemaker.
Deanna Martinez started her career with the Jarvis family in Silicon Valley where she worked directly for the family and also for the Jarvis owned company Wiltron, which specialized in microwave electronics and was later sold to the Japanese conglomerate Anritsu in 1990. Deanna transferred to Napa in 1992 to help found the fledgling Jarvis winery. Considering that she started in 1987 with the Jarvis family, she now has over 24 years with the Jarvis family and 20 years with the winery.
She is involved in all parts of the vineyard and winery administration with the title of Director of Operations and CFO.
While Roberto was working for the Piņa Vineyard Management Company is when he first worked on some vineyard projects at the Jarvis property. Later in 1991 he was hired full time by Jarvis as a vineyard worker. He was promoted to cellar worker in 1992 and is now Cellar Master of the winery.