In 1969 our father, a successful L.A. businessman named Jay Corley, visited Napa Valley. He had, by this time, invested in a number of businesses. The opportunity to buy a prune orchard along the Napa River in what would later be designated as the Oak Knoll District, with its delicate climate, felt right to a “Burgundy guy” at the beginning of the wine movement in Northern California.
Our father had written a thesis on starting and running a winery. He knew what he was doing, although from the L.A. vantage point his interest looked questionable. His visit to the Napa Valley turned into so much more than a business. That day changed his life and defined our family.
The first American Corleys arrived in Virginia 400 years ago. There have been farmers in every generation. Our father had spent his summers working on farms with our grandfather before he began his hectic career in L.A. When he began planting the Napa Valley property there was something about the land, the water, the sun, the quiet dignity of the work that invited him to trade his business suit for a pair of jeans more and more often.
When the seven of us kids weren’t in school, we helped build our winery. We learned a lot about the wine business, that it is harder than just about anything. We all sought other paths: one of us studied to be a marine biologist; others established careers in banking, accounting, securities, and nonprofit development.
But like our father, each of us have been transformed by wine, and we have been drawn back at different times — seduced, as our father was, by a more meaningful way to make a living. Nothing makes us happier than planting, growing, picking, crushing, tasting, bottling, and sharing Corley wine.
We celebrate the history of American winemaking, and ideals from another era. In a time of too much rudeness, anger, superficiality, and empty boasting, we value hospitality, civil conversation, grace, and a magical blend of art, science, music, and hard work.
The family-owned and family-operated California wineries that started in the 1960s and 1970s, and introduced New World wines to the world, are harder to find now. But our father understood he was not building an asset to sell to a global consortium and after his passing in 2016 we embrace that sentiment.
We will be Napa winegrowers and winemakers for the rest of our lives, and a third generation is already at work. It’s an honor to join our family to others across America and around the world, through a carefully crafted bottle of wine on the dinner table.
Our elegant yet unpretentious wine carries the Corley spirit and the effort and imagination of everyone who chooses to work with us, our extended family. Everything we do, from sustainable farming to our tasting experiences, is designed to honor our past, celebrate the moment, and prepare for a future with the next generations in mind — our family and yours.
We’ve all been transformed by Corley wine, and we hope you will be too.