From the Naval Missile Navigation Engineer to the product manager for IBM to the award-winning winemaker. Tony Arcudis The road to Napa Valley was not straight and narrow. Arcudi, winemaker and owner of the same name ARCUDI wines, was nearing his fourth decade when he finally decided to pursue his passion for viticulture. At the age of 38, the Boston native got in his car and drove west to the land of wine opportunities, not knowing what might be waiting for him but feeling like it was a now or never suggestion.
“I’ve had a great career in technology, where I was happy to get promoted, but it wasn’t for me,” said Arcudi, whose early experiences helping his mother in the kitchen sparked a love of good food and wine . “I cooked a lot and bought wine and studied, but it was just a hobby. I felt like I was doing the right thing, the practical thing, by sticking to my technical job. “
A special glass of Châteauneuf du Pape, which he enjoyed in his late 20s, sealed his fate. “This glass shook me to the bone,” said Arcudi, who also works as a winemaker at Kapcsándy family wines in addition to the winery assistant Fantesca under the head winemaker Heidi Barrett. “At that moment, wine was no longer just a drink for me, but something that you can fully experience. That was my a-ha wine moment. I lived a life in Acedia, longing for something functional and fulfilling, and then and there I knew I was missing out on my calling. “
It would be nearly a decade before he took the plunge. A series of personal setbacks made him feel like he had nothing to lose; He was able to take a risk. He had no plan when he went to California, just an abundance of desire and determination. “I had to try,” said Arcudi. “I knew deep down that I would be happier making wine and living under a bridge than being tied to a paycheck and a corner office. There was no going back.”
His desire to study oenology and viticulture at the University of California at Davis has been ridiculed. A high school graduate with mediocre grades, he was directed by the UCD admissions director to graduate from his employee and try again. So he finally received the coveted UCD Regents scholarship. After completing the program, Arcudi received an internship in viticulture at Stagecoach Vineyards and a scholarship from the International Wine and Food Society. While working as Associate Winemaker at Nickle & Nickle, Arcudi met Barrett at a winemaker conference. She was intrigued by his experience with the Navy, as her father-in-law had also served on Navy submarines. After a successful blind tasting in which Barrett and her team asked Arcudi to describe three wines, Barrett hired him in 2009 to work as an Associate Winemaker at Fantesca. Since then he has been at her side and at the same time started his own labels – ARCUDI in 2012 and TERRAMAGRA by ARCUDI in 2021 – as well as the main winemaker at Kapcsándy, where he received two 100-point ratings in his first vintage and a third 100-point – Score with a 2018 vintage wine.
“After ten years, I was an overnight success,” joked Arcudi. “It takes a long time to learn this craft. If you want to cook a chicken perfectly, you can buy 100 chickens. But with wine, we only get one chance to get it right every year. “
And Arcudi gets it right year after year by selling delicious Cabernet Sauvignons with a Vineyard and small vineyards produces start. He also produces a Russian river Chardonnay. Lisa Perroti-Brown of Robert Parker Wine Advocate said: “These are consistently solid wines with a lot of expression and soul.”
Chicago-based Dominic Curcio met Arcudi six years ago during his annual trip to Napa through an introduction to a tour guide, and has been a fan ever since. “I live in Chicago and my wife and I go to Napa once a year and love to search for new wines and meet with the owners / winemakers, “said Curcio. “We met Tony at his house to try his first vintage. We loved the wine and especially loved Tony’s enthusiasm. We sat for more than two hours talking about wine, books, and his time in submarines. His background is very unique due to his naval experience. For him it is amazing to peak and be a top winemaker. Tony’s Cabernet is among those that sell twice as much. I rate them as my favorite and I appreciate that he has stayed true to his promise to keep ARCUDI at $ 150 a bottle. “
Kate and Warren Mead from Boston have been ARCUDI fans since the first bottling. “Arcudi taxis get up with the best,” said Kate. “They are rich in flavor with a smooth finish. Its original vintage with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Black Sears Vineyard on Howell Mountain is still one of our favorite wines. It’s a full bodied taxi with the complex notes that Tony skillfully brings out. “
Warren added, “When I told him I wasn’t a big pinot drinker, he replied,” Well, you’ve never tried my pinot. “To this day it is the only Pinot I drink.”
He calls Arcudi’s new TERRAMAGRA label (93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot) “Wednesday evening wine”, his answer to fans who are looking for a quality wine at a lower price to enjoy during the week. Inspired by the family, the name Terramagra pays homage to his mother’s maiden name and Sicilian roots. Fittingly, Terramagra also means “poor soil”, a description for the soil that provides the best vines. Like Arcudi, these wines embody the success that comes from humble beginnings.
“When I got to the valley, Napa was a walled garden and I was an outsider,” Arcudi said. “It was one wall after the other, but as Marcus Aurelius tells us, the obstacle is the way. The walls were tests to see if I really wanted this. “
Sure, he did. The proof is in every bottle of ARCUDI and TERRAMAGRA.