Skip to content

The Land of Opportunity

Our History

A Dream Realized

Mod-Sml

Kenzo Tsujimoto first achieved success as the founder of Capcom, a Japanese developer and publisher of video games.  During that time, he became enchanted with the Napa Valley after the historic 1976 Judgment of Paris, which launched Napa Valley wines onto the world stage.

As Capcom’s business expanded into the United States, Kenzo sought a serene location to offer an outdoor alternative to the company’s indoor electronic sporting business. His affinity for California wine country and vision to build an outdoor retreat led him to a 3,800-acre mountain valley in Napa’s southeast corner.

History-Items

fog fills the valleys

In 1990, Capcom purchased the land.  However, the business plans fell through and Kenzo ultimately purchased the property from the company, thus beginning the story of Kenzo Estate.

Kenzo Estate’s philosophy focuses on a natural winemaking process.

Forests blanket the large estate

Five times the size of New York’s Central Park, Kenzo’s precious parcel was the site of an equestrian center, which had also served as the training grounds for the U.S. Equestrian Team.

Leomas Lakes on the property

The land attracted local vintners with is sprawling acreage, natural water sources and unique terroir. Kenzo and his wife, Natsuko, along with wine industry friends such as the late, legendary Robert Mondavi, mutually recognized great potential to cultivate the land to vineyard.

vineyard groundbreaking on Kenzo Estate

In 1998, vineyard development began with the first rootstock of Bordeaux varietals planted in 1999. Two years later, Kenzo Estate harvested grapes. Although wine was made from the fruit, the vintage was never released.

Horses still live on the Kenzo Estate property
Vineyard Manager David Abreu prunes the vines

In 2001, Kenzo met famed viticulturist David Abreu who engineered vineyards for premier wineries such as Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate and Colgin Cellars. He proposed that the two work together to grow grapes of the highest quality.

An early image of just-planted vineyard on the estate

Abreu joined under the condition that he could replant the entire vineyard. This massive undertaking would ensure varietals and terroir were matched to perfection in the healthiest vineyard ecosystem possible.

Kenzo agreed, and in 2002 replanting operations commenced with vines, soil and even the smallest rocks in the ground removed. Each block was planted to extract the purity of the vine’s heritage and varietal characteristics.

“My desire is to create the best wines imaginable.” – Kenzo Tsujimoto

In 2003, celebrated winemaker Heidi Barrett joined the team. Dubbed by Time Magazine as “The Wine Diva of Napa Valley,” Barrett crafted some of the most sought-after Napa Valley cult wines, including Screaming Eagle and Dalla Valle. Kenzo and Natsuko were captivated by Barrett’s elegant, artistic approach to winemaking. The three collaborated to fulfill Kenzo’s vision: create superior, yet accessible wines that could stand among the world’s best.

kenzo

By 2005, the Kenzo Estate vineyards were ready for the first harvest, realizing Kenzo’s 15-year pursuit to produce wine.

6

In 2008, a celebration was held to present Kenzo Estate’s first vintage of wines – 2005 rindo, murasaki and ai – at the Tokyo Imperial Hotel. The graceful bottle labels were designed by renowned designer Tamotsu Yagi.  The inaugural vintage sold out immediately.

8

In 2009, construction of the state-of-the-art winery and natural aging caves concluded, meeting all criteria to make Kenzo Estate wines officially "estate bottled." Shorly after, the beautifully appointed tasting room was completed and primed to host guests.

Marc

During that same year, Marc Nanes was appointed as the estate winemaker to assist Heidi Barrett in crafting Kenzo Estate’s growing wine portfolio.

“It was a dream to share this unique and extraordinary site with guests from around the world.” – Kenzo Tsujimoto

9

Kenzo and Natsuko welcomed friends and partners to commemorate the winery’s Grand Opening in 2010. Guests were officially welcomed to experience the beauty of Kenzo Estate and its stunning wine collection.

In 2016, Kenzo and Natsuko opened a namesake restaurant, Kenzo Napa, to share truly authentic Japanese cuisine alongside the Kenzo Estate wines. Having managed five Kenzo Estate restaurants in Japan, Natsuko again took the reins in design, operation and marketing at Kenzo Napa.  Her unwavering vision and commitment to excellence is a key factor in the restaurant’s ongoing success.

 

Kenzo Estate, now named a “Top 100 Winery in the World” by Bonfort’s Wine & Spirits Journal and Kenzo Napa, a two-time Michelin Star recipient, have officially joined the Napa Valley wine and culinary elite.