Etude Wines was founded in 1982 by Tony and Michelle Soter. The winery and its vineyards are in the Carneros appellation of California’s Napa Valley. Tony Soter was the winemaker at Spottswoode, Araujo, Niebaum-Coppola, Dalle Valle and Moraga before giving up his consulting career to concentrate on his own venture. Today Etude produces Pinot Noir from Carneros region grapes, and Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown farther north in Napa Valley. Etude also makes Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and a few other white wines.
Carneros AVA, also known as Los Carneros, is at the southern end of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys at the top of the San Francisco Bay. The 8,000 vineyard acres are mostly planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both of which thrive in the district’s cool, marine climate. Carneros became an AVA in 1983 and it has attracted foreign wine companies along with local producers. It has been especially appealing to European producers of sparkling wines including the giant Spanish cava producers Codorniu and Frexinet, and the French Champagne house Taittinger. Codorniu in Carneros is called Artesa, and Frexinet’s Carneros brand is Gloria Ferrer. Taittinger calls its Carneros winery Domaine Carneros. The European producers also make still wines in Carneros.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.