In order to reveal the humble beginning of Corté Riva Vineyards, it's origin must first be uncovered...
They emigrated from the Philippines in 1978 and their families followed suit. Lawrence Cortez was originally from Buguey, Cagayan Valley, Nieves Cortez 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, the heart of the Napa Valley.
Their knowledge base of wine and vineyards started by working in a vineyard tending to the grapes. They were blessed with the opportunity to continue their wine education. Lawrence's hard work eventually earned him the position of Cellar Master at Clos Pegase. 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 into much more. They later became family when Lawrence and Nieves said, "I Do" to one another.
Corte Riva Vineyards originated as a simple dinner conversation while having dinner with their families. The simple thought of starting their own 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 Corte Riva, has always been the driving force. She has been relentless from the beginning. The very thought of the idea of starting Corte Riva Vineyards motivated her to achieve her dream. Her unceasing love for her family, along with her full trust and confidence in her husband Lawrence, and her cousin Romel's ability to create exquisite, fine crafted boutique wines has paid off.
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. Each with decades of experience in the wine industry, starting from the ranch via picking grapes, pruning, suckering, watching for frost on the cold spring nights, the two men reminisced about it for some time and eventually the seed sprouted. Nieves had finally convinced Lawrence & Romel to invest in themselves and their families.
In 2003 their first vintage was released; 350 cases of 2001 Corte Riva Merlot (Napa Valley). The vintage received warm praises from many in the wine industry and sold out in two months! Their 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 roles of winemaker & cellar master for Corte 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, which produces 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 Corte Riva Vineyards Petite Sirah.
Family, friends and business associates continue to play a major role in the Corté Riva Vineyards label. The friends and family are always on hand to help with delivery, technical advice, miscellaneous assistance and tasting, particularly tasting! Lawrence, Nieves and Romel have realized their American dream and 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 Corte Riva! The vase used on the label reflects a past and present history of family - saving for the future.