Following successful careers in Minnesota and New Mexico, proprietors Betty O’Shaughnessy-Wools and Paul Wools purchased land and vineyards in Oakville in 1990 with the dream to return to their farming roots and make world-class wine. Over the next dozen years, new vineyards on Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder became available. By 2003, caves and a new winery were built.
Founding winemaker Sean Capiaux has deftly established his impressive and notable career over the past 21 years at prominent wineries around the globe. He graduated from California State University, Fresno in the late ’80s. Sean began his career at Jordan Winery in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. He joined the Houghton Winery located outside Perth for one harvest. Sean returned to the United States as assistant winemaker at Pine Ridge Winery in the Stags Leap district of Napa Valley. Two years later the Peter Michael Winery in Calistoga tapped Sean as the assistant winemaker.
In 1994, Sean launched his own label, Capiaux Cellars, which has garnered favourable reactions among professional reviewers, a cadre of restauranteurs, and consumers. In 1996, Sean moved temporarily to New York so his wife could attend Cornell University. As a bicoastal winemaker, Sean continued to produce Capiaux Cellars Pinot Noir in California, while working as the winemaker for Macari Vineyards, Jamesport Vineyards and Schneider Vineyards on the north Fork of Long Island.
Sean serves as COO and winemaker for the O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery today, consistently creating world class mountain Cabernets, while continuing to make his Capiaux Cellars Pinot Noirs. Sean describes his winemaking style as neo-classic in that he employs modern equipment to produce non-interventional wines that he ferments naturally and bottles unfined and unfiltered. Sean’s technique allows the varietal character to showcase beautifully.
“Inky, full-bodied, mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon-based reds from estate vineyards on Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder made the name for this boutique Napa Valley producer. Winemaker Sean Capiaux, well known for his own Capiaux Cellars Pinot Noirs, makes these wines for Betty O’Shaughnessy Woolls and her family with a full appreciation for Cabernet potential for depth and power. The Howell Mountain bottling is essentially a Meritage wine, with a melange of Bordeaux-derived blending grapes; the Mount Veeder is all Cabernet. Though overshadowed by the reds, O’Shaughnessy’s Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay bottlings are also estimable.”
– “America’s 500 Best Wineries”, Food & Wine, 2017
“Betty O’Shaughnessy and her winemaker Sean Capiaux make some of the most compelling Cabernets in California. These are among my favorite wines to drink at home. Best, of all they remain exceptionally well-priced considering the quality of what is in the glass.”
– Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, December 2012