Sun. Sep 25th, 2022

Since it opened to guests in 2018, Theorem Vineyards & Winery has been turning heads, both for its world-class wine and its ever-evolving architecture. Kisha and Jason Itkin bought the fabled Diamond Mountain property (previously owned by San Francisco surgeon Richard Beverly Cole) in 2012, and because the buildings had fallen into disrepair, it took a full six years to open it to the public — after the restoration of the Victorian home and the schoolhouse, the winery building, built from the ground up, allowed for the official coming out party. The Itkins took their time with every stage, and it has been well worth the wait. Now, with the completion of the Tasting Barn this month, Theorem has come full circle and has anchored its position as a leader in the luxury wine and hospitality space, no small feat in the Napa Valley. From the beginning, the Itkins have partnered with architect Richard Beard, whose aesthetic vision both pays homage to the past and brings the property fully into a 21st-century minimalist grandeur that is aligned with the concept of providing private, bespoke experiences for wine lovers.

Tasting experiences are curated around the preferences and needs of each group (and are, of course, by advance reservation only). There are multiple spaces for tasting, each glorious in its own way, and the barn is the newest addition to the diverse offerings. The property also now has a full-time culinary genius in Chef Josh Mitchell, who can prepare food pairings for the tastings, as well as create custom menus for special events.

In the works are plans for a sort of progressive tasting experience, with guests welcomed with a glass upon arrival, followed by a tour of the tank room and barrel room, then being seated in the tasting barn where a full experience of winemaker Kathleen Ward’s talents will ensue. Theorem Cabernet Sauvignons are supple, elegant, confident, focused and deep, and the team also produces top-level Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah — all very small-production. The original style was developed by Thomas Rivers Brown, with Ward as assistant winemaker, but Ward was recently promoted to winemaker and will ensure a seamless continuity in the ongoing production of these already-classic Diamond Mountain and Moon Mountain wines.

And while Beard is best known for residential design, it turns out that he also has a penchant for approaching historically sensitive structures with the care they require and deserve — such is the case with the Tasting Barn at Theorem, which sits precisely on the site of the original 19th-century dairy barn — unused because of its condition, it finally gave up the ghost a few years ago, collapsing to the ground in dramatic fashion — and the team got approval to rebuild on the same footprint. That’s a win for historic preservation and a win for visitors to the winery.

Working in tandem with the Itkins and interior designer Nicholas Proietti, Beard set about reinventing the barn. In an interview when the barn was debuted to media, Beard said, “It was satisfying to bring these humble and elegant buildings into use again. While there were all kinds of unanticipated challenges, every time I consulted Kisha and Jason about an important decision, they always did the right thing. There was never any conflict about what these spaces were offering up to us.” The collaborative harmony is palpable in every aspect, from the exterior 10-inch shiplap cedar boards painted in a historic burnt red color to the large Dutch entry doors and graceful wraparound porch with mesmerizing views of Mt. St. Helena and the Palisades Mountain Range. And Proietti searched high and low for just the right interior accents, perhaps the crown jewel of which is a 100-year-old bronze bank vault door that is entirely at home here as a sliding door for the tasting room proper.

This is a perfect setting to celebrate these worthy wines in their place of origin, and it’s a wonderful Calistoga addition to the realm of elevated tasting experiences in the Napa Valley.

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