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Monday, June 26, 2017

06/26/2017 - The Spud Hilton Story

Spud Hilton
Travel Editor
San Francisco Chronicle

Spud Hilton is the travel editor of The San Francisco Chronicle, where since 2000 he has written about (and been hopelessly lost in) destinations on six continents. His attempts to defy the expectations of places -- from Havana's back alleys to Kyoto's shrines to a hippie bus in Modesto -- have earned 11 Lowell Thomas Awards, the standard for travel journalism. Spud also writes a biweekly column at, and his travel tip videos and #CarryOnShame campaign have been featured by Peter Greenberg, Rudy Maxa, “GMA,” “The Today Show” and “Quest Means Business” on CNN International.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

06/18/2017 - The Viader Vineyard and Winery Story

Tonight, Slow Living Radio explores another iconic Napa Valley wine family - Viader Vineyard and Winery.


Owner / Winemaker

Born in Argentina, proprietor Delia Viader spent much of her
formative years in Europe and especially in France. Delia came to the United States as a post-graduate student and holds a doctorate in Philosophy from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France and pursued advanced business Studies at three American universities: MIT, UC Berkeley and UC Davis.

After MIT, she moved to California and continued business school at the University of California Berkeley. During her studies, she realized the opportunities in the United States for both  starting a career and raising children in a healthy environment.

Recognizing the potential of the up and coming wine region nearby, Delia soon set her sights on purchasing land in the Napa Valley and subsequently plunged into the wine business in the early 1980s. With an initial loan from her father, Engr. Walter Viader, she acquired their Howell Mountain property and set out to create a world class wine estate.

Delia continued learning about winemaking through programs in
Enology and Viticulture offered at University of California, Davis to better learn the practical theory behind making fine wine. All while raising four children on her own, Delia forged the vision and design for this unique estate vineyard property, wine blend and brand. Delia’s story illustrates the importance of education and understanding coupled with following ones instincts. The VIADER estate and Delia’s wines have consistently reflected these strengths.

As a leader within the local wine community, Delia contributes her perspective and industry experience to the Napa Valley Vintners and California Wine Institute where she currently serves on the Board for both organizations. Her history with the Napa Valley Vintners dates as far back as 1990 where she and a select group of local vintner leaders helped frame the organization’s strategic plan. Since then, Delia has helped spearhead Premiere Napa Valley – an annual grand tasting and futures trade auction that consistently raises more than $4 million each year, and has also contributed to Auction Napa Valley in various roles, spending a decade as part of the beneficiary vetting committee and helping to set the focus and parameters that would determine adjudication of funds.


Director of Operations / Winemaker

Alan spent his childhood on his family's vineyard estate on Howell Mountain. His early education in wine and formal schooling helped shape his respect for terroir-driven wines, organic farming, and diverse viticultural practices from around the world.

He started working in the family vineyards at the age of nine and continued to help throughout his childhood, including working as cellarhand in the caves at VIADER. After high school, he pursued his passion for grape growing with a hands-on program in Sonoma where he received a degree in Viticulture Management. In 2002, Alan officially stepped in as Vineyard Manager for VIADER in 2002, while simultaneously continuing his education at UC Davis, where he learned the fundamentals in winemaking. In 2005, Alan worked a harvest at Achavel-Ferrer winery in Mendoza, Argentina, which convinced him that winemaking was his calling. Alan officially stepped in as lead winemaker for VIADER in 2006.  Today, he continues to oversee vineyard management operations while working in all areas of wine production together with his mother, Delia at VIADER.

An avid adventurer and seasoned traveler, Alan continues to visit the worlds best wine producers and wine growing regions throughout Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
In 2013, he went to the University of Sciences Agro to study viticulture in Bordeaux, France.

A hands-on experimentalist and eternal student of the vine, Alan has been at the forefront of trialing and adopting the right combination of organic, biodynamic and sustainable practices, not to mention new technology integrations that optimally benefit the quality of VIADER wines. In the cellar, Alan has been equally fervent about delivering better quality results, experimenting with different blends, yeasts, fermentations, barreling, etc., always open to new ideas, trials and opportunities to responsibly deliver improved quality wines.

Alan is married to Mariela, his Guatemalan sweetheart and dedicated mother to their three children. He loves grilling, hiking, camping and riding Enduro motorcycles throughout the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, but can sometime be found exploring dirt tracks in Baja California, Mexico. Alan is also a member of the Napa County Sheriffs Volunteer Search & Rescue team.

As the right-hand to his mother & founder, Delia Viader, Alan oversees VIADER production from start to finish. Having inherited his mothers passion for winemaking and expressing VIADER’s unique terroir, Alan is looking forward to continuing the family business for many exciting vintages and generations to come.


Director of Sales & Marketing

Janet Viader grew up in the Napa Valley on the vineyards of her amily’s winery, VIADER. Janet has been involved in the family business since a very early age and has witnessed firsthand the growth of the business and brand.

Janet studied Political Science at both the University of California at Berkeley and Sciences Po University in Paris, France. She loves wine and has traveled to the wine regions of Western Europe, Argentina, and the Pacific Northwest improving her wine education, language skills and palate. She officially joined the family business in 2007 after working in Buenos Aires, and assisting the immigration counsel at Napa Legal Aid.

Following in the footsteps of her mothers passion for their family, wines and business, Janet, who celebrates 10 years working in the family business this year, offers a genuinely compelling and deeply personal perspective growing up on and literally with the vineyard since the very first vines went in the ground.

And as passionate as she is about her family’s winery, she is equally passionate about advocating for the Napa and California wine communities, which VIADER has become such an ingrained part
of over the past three decades. Janet is currently a member of the board for the Napa Ag Preserve and
previously served on the board of the Napa Valley Vintners for five years where, among many responsibilities, she traveled to Washington and helped preserve the agricultural integrity of Napa by helping to thwart the possibility of a Napa Valley casino.

With her brother Alan, Janet is part of “NG: The Next Generation in Wine,” a collaborative marketing group of second generation family vintners. Outside of wine, you can find Janet performing at the local community theater, brushing up on her swing dancing skills and training for her next triathlon.

About Viader

Built on the foundations of family, perseverance and determination, VIADER (pronounced Veeya Dare) thrives today as a multigenerational, internationally-recognized boutique Napa Valley first growth estate specializing in limited-production, mountain- grown Bordeaux-style blends.

Planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah and Petit Verdot at a steep, 32 % slope, the 1300-ft elevation VIADER estate is a one-of-a-kind 92-acre vineyard parcel delivering low-yield, exceptional fruit reflective of VIADERs unique Howell Mountain terroir. Favoring a softer, finesse-driven style focused on terroir, elegance
and aromatics, as opposed to power and brawn, VIADER wines cater to the strengths of the estate’s rocky volcanic soils, western exposure and unique European-style vertical planting.

A trailblazer among the Napa Valley winemaking community, VIADER has been forging new frontiers since the winery’s inaugural Howell Mountain vineyard planting in 1986, which entailed a couple of sticks of dynamite, an unconventional vision and a nontraditional visionary: Delia Viader. As one of the first female winemakers in the Napa Valley, Delia Viader was also one of the first vintners in the region to plant her vines vertically up and down the hillside, as opposed to California’s typical horizontal terracing and one of the first in Napa to tackle and successfully showcase Cabernet Franc as a deserving blending companion with Napas King, Cabernet Sauvignon.

For more than 30 years, Delia Viader’s pioneering spirit has lived up to the colloquial darein VIADER a spirit that continues to permeate throughout all facets of the family business. Born in Argentina and raised in Europe, with much of her time in France, Delia’s ambitions to pursue post-graduate education in California  as a single mother of four resulted in an entrepreneurial venture that not even Delia could have predicted. Enamored by the quiet, yet up and coming energy of the Napa Valley in the 80s, it was along the steep, rocky volcanic slopes of Howell Mountain that Delia entertained the radical idea of pursuing her own vineyard. It was a small site hindered by large, almost impenetrable rocks that likely would have been passed over as too difficult to plant for years and even decades to come, if it weren’t for the foresight and determination of a young, driven woman from Europe who saw something special and her father who furnished the initial loan to lay down roots on this otherwise untouched Napa Valley mountainside.

While it did require several rounds of dynamite to handle some of the larger rocks, Delia’s vision, inspired by the Old World vineyards of Bordeaux that she remembered fondly from her travels in France, soon took shape with the groundbreaking release of the winery’s inaugural 1989 vintage of VIADER (“Liquid Cashmere): a non-traditional Napa Valley Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon blend that would set the stage for future award-winning vintages to come.

Today’s operation is a genuine family affair, with active first and second generation leadership on the frontlines. Inspired by Delia’s passion and the land that has ultimately become the figurative and literal rock of the Viader family, Delia’s daughter (Director of Sales & Marketing) and son (Winemaker and Director of Operations) are wholly invested in carrying on the VIADER legacy for future generations, while also contributing their own unique passions and personalities.

The Viader familys roots run deep; from the live, working vineyard on that steep rocky slope that Delia envisioned all those years ago, to the multigenerational family legacy that continues to evolve and strengthen with each and every vintage. VIADER’s reputation for crafting consistently superior wines also continues to flourish, achieving national and international recognition from the industry’s most well-respected sommeliers, reviewers, influencers and even world-renowned producers. Drawing inspiration from all over the world, and never content to settle, VIADER Vineyards & Winery is a true force majeure that continues to move mountains, one bottle of wine at a time.

~ Cheers to the next 30 years! ~