In order to reveal the humble beginning of Corté Riva Vineyards,
it’s origin must first be uncovered…
Corté Riva Vineyards, originated from simple dinner conversation while having dinner with family. Lawrence Cortez, Nieves Cortez, and Romel Rivera are the main three that would make this conversation into a reality.
In 1978, Lawrence, Nieves and Romel emigrated from the Philippines on separate paths. As young adults, they would leave their home towns in hopes for a better future. Lawrence originally from Buguey, Cagayan Valley, Nieves originally from Illocos, and Romel Rivera originally from Agoo, La Union. Although they arrived in different areas of California, the friendship began in the little town of Calistoga. Napa Valley is well renown for their wines, so it would only be nature that they would be pulled into the wine business.
Their knowledge of wine and vineyards started by working in a vineyard tending to the grapes. Working in the vineyards was very difficult. Their days would start early regardless of the weather. Lawrence states, “neither rain nor over 100 degree heat wave would stop us from going out into the fields to pick the grapes”.
After a couple years working in the fields, they were blessed with the opportunity to continue working in the wine industry. Lawrence’s hard work eventually earned him a position of Cellar Master at Clos Pegase winery. Romel along with Nieves, who are both cousins, started their career at Hans Kornell Champagne Cellars. Romel eventually landed a position at Pride Mountain Vineyards, under the tutelage of winemaker Bob Foley. Years later, Lawrence joined suit and worked alongside with Romel. All of these experiences offered more learning opportunities for wine appreciation commingled with business.
For Lawrence and Nieves, the friendship grew into much more. They later became family when Lawrence and Nieves said, “I Do” to one another.
Likened to a farmer who plants seeds and tends the crops, while waiting with patience and looking forward to reaping harvest in the future, the seed of starting their own label had been planted. The simple thought of starting their own wine label at the time was an immense feat that only few could attain. With the hopes of becoming triumphant, they had to endure the fierce competition in the wine industry.
Nieves, Sales Manager of Corté Riva, has always been the driving force. She has been relentless from the beginning. With her motivation to achieve her dreams, Nieves was very excited to embark on making Corté Riva Vineyards a reality. Nieves had to convince Lawrence and Romel to invest in themselves and their families.
Her unceasing love for her family, along with her full trust and confidence in her husband Lawrence, and her cousin Romel to create exquisite, fine crafted boutique wines has paid off.
In 2003, Corté Riva Vineyards released their first vintage; 350 cases of 2001 Corte Riva Merlot (Napa Valley). The vintage received warm praises from many in the wine industry and sold out within two months! Corté Riva Vineyards wines have consistently won high scores from Wine Spectator and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. During the years after Sideways, people were still clamoring for the Corté Riva Vineyards Merlot because they enjoyed the rich, big flavors, which the wine consistently delivers.
Romel who is now the wine consultant meticulously assists Lawrence, who has taken on the major role of winemaker & cellar master for Corté Riva Vineyards. Both share exacting tastes and demand the highest quality of grapes. Selecting only the best available fruit is one of their top priorities. They prefer grapes from the Napa region, because the volcanic soil stresses the vines in just the right amount. Producing small, tight, well-structured berry clusters filled with concentrated flavors. Having lived and worked in the Napa Valley for so long, they are very knowledgeable about the terroir. Sonoma County and Lake County have also been utilized in small amounts of select fruit for the Corté Riva Vineyards Petite Sirah.
Family, friends and business associates continue to play a major role in the Corté Riva Vineyards label. Friends and family are always on hand to help with delivery, technical advice, miscellaneous assistance and tasting – particularly tasting!
Lawrence, Nieves and Romel reminisce about their fears when they first immigrated to America, knowing that they were looked upon as sole providers for their families back home. With hard work and dedication, they were about to bring their immediate families to America as well. They continue to generously share their success with their families both in America and in the Philippines.
The concept for the brand pays homage to their last names Cortez & Rivera, thus transformed to Corté Riva Vineyards. The vase used on the label reflects a past and present history of family – saving for the future.