Alta Nova Napa Valley
Alta Nova is a mantra for those who strive for more. From Latin it translates as New Heights. The saying embodies the ideals of reaching higher, thinking bigger, and expanding your scope. The ethos behind Alta Nova is very simple. At every summit in life, every milestone, there are those who have reached their destination and there are those who say, “what’s next?” Alta Nova is for those of us who fall into the latter camp.
When I finally passed the Master Sommelier exam after nine years and became one of less than 200 people in the world to achieve that distinction, the celebration was legendary! But soon after I was left in a state of melancholy. I needed to figure out what was next. I came to understand that some of us are just not fully happy unless we are chasing the unattainable.
The dream of Alta Nova came to me soon after I passed and left The French Laundry to work full time in the wine business. Starting a wine brand seemed absurdly out of reach. Nonetheless, I combed over ideas for wine names and found the aquatint etching on the label in a book of antique celestial maps. That image held my fascination because it is a reminder of how insignificant we are. More importantly, it is a reminder of how short our time here is. Many of us are compelled do more with our lives than just live, we must ascend.
The vision for Alta Nova is to create profound wines from elevated vineyard sites chasing the highest levels of quality. I was fortunate to find in Britt Richards, an intrepid winemaker who shares the same philosophy of what makes exceptional wines. Her talent as a winemaker and the support of my incredible wife and partner Genevieve have been paramount to Alta Nova becoming a reality. At this stage we are nowhere near the pinnacle. We are just getting to basecamp and the wines are already killer! It has taken many years to get here, but this is just the start of our climb, not the summit. I hope you will join us on the journey.
-Desmond Echavarrie, MS
Britt Richards Winemaker
Britt (Nichols) Richards has always had her sights set on winemaking. After graduating from CSU Fresno in 2007, she made her way to Napa to do an internship at Chappellet Winery where she met her now husband Ry Richards. From there, she did stints at Jordan Winery and Keller Estate before settling down at Peter Michael Winery.
After several years, Britt decided to expand her winemaking knowledge, working at St. Clement, Ledson Winery, and with acclaimed consulting winemaker Philippe Melka. She rejoined forces with Phillip Titus in 2014 to work on Coho for several years. As winemaker for Altruria, Jack Tar and Recoltant wines, Britt takes a minimalist approach to winemaking.
"It’s so exciting for me to make wines from myriad California terroirs," Britt says, "from the dense and lush Recoltant Napa Cabernet, to the structured and powerful Altruria Sonoma Cabernet, to the luscious Jack Tar Cab from the rolling hills of Paso. These vineyards and fruit couldn’t be more distinct. In general I have a firm belief in the purity of the wines, and enhancing what is already there, which allows the fruit to shine."