From his days as a young boy working on a Midwest farm, Brian Cunat developed an interest and respect for agriculture and farming that has grown into a life's passion and a dream. Brian and his wife, Miki, have traveled extensively, touring wineries, walking vineyards and enjoying local cuisines and flavors. Their first visit to the Napa Valley with its natural beauty and welcoming residents, along with the exceptional quality of wines produced from the region gave real inspiration to their family dream.
In 2007, Brian decided to combine his love of wine and his dream of farming by purchasing a 50-acre property in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. Working with an expert team of vineyard managers and winemakers, the property was transformed with Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.
The Cunat family is involved in the winery operations on a daily basis. The oldest daughter, Neena, has worked in Napa since 2007 and oversees the daily operations as well as the company's public relations efforts. The younger daughter has been instrumental in the designs of the product labels and collateral materials. Additionally, Brian's brother, John, and the extended Cunat family are supportive investors in Cunat Family Vineyards as well as active brand advocates.
Each Materra wine is a perfect expression of the land, the grapes, the passion the Cunat family has invested in each bottle and the unyielding quality delivered consistently by the growing conditions and terroir of the Napa Valley. Brian and the entire Cunat family look forward to sharing their dreams with you over a glass of Materra.
The Cunat Family members are involved in all facets of winemaking, from planting the vineyards with the best suited varietals, selecting final blends before bottling and designing and ordering labels and other packaging. Two consulting winemakers, Bruce Regalia and Michael Trujillo provide specialized expertise and oversight to the process, ensuring the wines are made to the Cunat Family's exacting standards.
Born into an Italian family, Bruce spent many afternoons growing up smelling the aromas coming from the family kitchen and anticipating the delicious blended flavors of another authentic Sunday dinner. With grandparents from Genoa and Calabria, the family was brought up in the Italian tradition that everyone was underfed. The food was always fresh and plentiful, and there was always wine on the table.
From the bountiful table of his youth, Bruce knew the benefit from well-farmed and managed gardens was fresh, flavorful produce and deep structured wines. He pursued this interest and curiosity in his academic studies, earning a degree in botany and plant and soil science from Chico State in California. He graduated and worked for two large farming entities before taking a job as a vineyard manager in Mendocino County in the mid-80’s. Bruce’s talent and style as a winemaker developed as he transitioned from vineyard manager to winemaker at a small vineyard, later purchased by Duckhorn Wine Company.
It was during his time as a winemaker for Duckhorn and specifically his responsibilities for Goldeneye, a well-respected Pinot Noir brand from California’s Anderson Valley, that Bruce acknowledged Pinot Noir as his favorite wine and winemaking as his life’s endeavor. With Goldeneye’s success, Bruce was hired by several Napa Valley wineries to provide consultation and guidance to their winemaking programs. His love and passion for the terroir have kept Bruce in the Napa Valley, working with wineries in one of the best grape growing regions in the world.
Bruce’s passion and respect for the land ultimately led him to his current partnership with the Cunat Family as a consulting winemaker for Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards. Through experience and passion, Bruce, Brian Cunat and the rest of the family continue their labor of love at the Oak Knoll vineyard which is home to the award-winning wines of Materra.
“Crafting quality wines is one of my creative outlets. I’m fortunate that the product of my creativity is recognized for its exceptional vineyard sourcing, varietal expression and value.”
Like Brian Cunat, Michael grew up farming on his family’s ranch. Michael’s passion and interest in the wine industry developed over many years of hard work and was influenced by many industry experts and a wide variety of experiences. As a college student, Michael worked his first summer for food and lodging in the vineyards of Napa Valley. Not afraid of hard work, he was impressed with the bounty and flavors on the table each night, as well as the quality and abundance of great wine as a reward for a hard day’s work. From Colorado originally, Michael never left California after that first summer back in 1982.
His 33 years of wine industry experience include vineyard work, academic study at both The University of California, Davis and Napa Valley College, and winemaking tutelage by industry legacies like Andre Tchelistcheff, Tony Soter and Jim Allen. Michael became an assistant winemaker in 1988 and in 1991 began his first venture, launching his own brand Karl Lawrence Cellars, crafting vintages from 1991 to 2010. A brand he created to try his independent hand at making outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon with the very best Napa Valley grapes. Picking up where he left off, today he is in full swing with Trujillo Wines. Today Michael shares his winemaking expertise and counsel with several Napa Valley wineries including Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards as well as continuing to manage his responsibilities as President and Director of Winemaking at Sequoia Grove Winery and the creative development of the Trujillo Wines portfolio.
The wines produced under Michael’s direction consistently receive high praise and accolades in the press and Michael continues to apply his creativity to his winemaking - expanding his breadth and expertise with new blends, different techniques and the most current technology and production processes. Michael resides in the northeastern hills of Napa Valley where he is sharing his passion and love of the land and all its possibilities with his wife, Terri and daughter, Sophia.
The Madrigals have been developing vineyard expertise in Napa Valley since 1938, when the first members of the family emigrated from Mexico in search of a better life. And after decades of farming the vineyards of Napa Valley and selling the grapes from their forty acre estate property, the family--who realized that winemakers were earning accolades with the grapes they were growing--decided to move into winemaking as well.