Since opening to guests in 2018, Theorem Vineyards & Winery has been turning heads, both for its world-class wines and its ever-evolving architecture. Keisha and Jason Atkin purchased the legendary Diamond Mountain Estate (formerly owned by San Francisco surgeon Richard Beverly Cole) in 2012, and because the buildings were in such poor condition, it took a full six years to open to the public—after restoration. The Victorian house and school, the winery building, which was built from the ground up, allowed for a formal Exodus Ceremony. The Itkins took their time with each stage, and it was worth the wait. Now, with the completion of Tasting Barn this month, Theorem has come full circle and has established itself as a leader in fine wines and hospitality, a feat that is no small feat in the Napa Valley. From the start, the Atkins family has partnered with architect Richard Bird, whose aesthetic vision pays homage to the past and brings the entire property to a minimalist, 21st-century grandeur that aligns with the concept of providing private, tailored experiences for wine lovers.
Tastings are organized around the preferences and needs of each group (of course this is done by prior reservation only). There are multiple tasting spaces, each exquisite in their own way, and the barn is the latest addition to the diverse offering. The property now also has full-time culinary genius chef Josh Mitchell, who can prepare food pairings for tastings, as well as create custom menus for special occasions.
Plans are being worked out for some sort of step-by-step tasting experience, welcoming guests with a glass on arrival, followed by a tour of the tank room and barrel room, and then sitting in the tasting barn where a full experience of the talents of winemaker Kathleen Ward will ensue. Theorem Cabernet Sauvignons is flexible, elegant, confident, focused and deep, and the team also produces Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah – all very small productions. 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 already classic Diamond Mountain and Moon Mountain wines.
And while Beard is best known for residential design, it turns out he also has a penchant for approaching historically sensitive structures with the care they require and deserve—as is the case with Tasting Barn at Theorem, which is located precisely on the site of the original 19th century dairy barn. – Unused due to its condition, it finally abandoned the Stealth a few years ago, and collapsed to the ground in dramatic fashion – and the team got the approval to rebuild on the same footprint. This is a victory for preserving history and a win for visitors to the winery.
Working alongside Itkins and interior designer Nicholas Proietti, Beard set out to reinvent the barn. In an interview when the barn first appeared in the media, Bird said, “It was a relief to put these modest and elegant buildings back into use again. While there were all kinds of unexpected challenges, every time I consulted Keisha and Jason about an important decision, they were always They do the right thing. There has never been any conflict about what these spaces have been giving us.” Cooperative harmony is evident in every aspect, from the 10-inch cedar exterior panels painted in historic burnt red to the large Dutch entry doors and gorgeous wraparound porch with enchanting views of Mount St. Helena and the Palisades mountain range. Proietti searched high and low for just the right interior touches, and perhaps the jewel in the crown is a 100-year-old bronze cellar door that’s entirely at home here as a sliding door to a proper tasting room.
An ideal place to celebrate these wonderful wines in their original setting, Calistoga’s wonderful addition to the world of Napa Valley’s elevated tasting experiences.