My family has been in the wine business for nearly a century, since my great grandfather, Clarence Dillon, acquired Chateau Haut-Brion in 1935 and our family company, Domaine Clarence Dillon, subsequently purchased Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion in 1983. I gained an early exposure, appreciation, and genuine interest in wine from my family. Eventually, I was inspired to produce my own boutique label in Napa Valley—Carte Blanche.
Growing up on a farm in Bedminster, New Jersey—home to five generations of my family—some of my fondest memories are of my grandmother presiding over family dinners. Exceptional wines marked the significant hallmarks in our lives and she passed this proud family heritage in wine production to her descendants.
Over time, I became fascinated by both the science and nature of great wines—the grand alliance between winemaker and nature, art and technology. One memorable Christmas, my grandmother gave me a wax stamp of my initials. That stamp, my wax seal, is my vintner mark for Nicholas Allen Wines.
Through my constant exposure to wine, and my eagerness to learn more about viticulture, and winemaking, wine production became my professional passion. Carte Blanche represents my commitment to crafting limited, luxury wines in America that are inspired by the classical French winemaking tradition. Devoted to the notion of “terroir,” I came to California with a desire to work with a clean slate to forge a unique, world-class wine in Napa Valley–hence the name Carte Blanche.
As a result, Nicholas Allen Wines & Carte Blanche were founded in 2007, and in 2008 I worked with our founding Winemaker Luc Morlet to create unique wines from Napa and Sonoma inspired by Old World French predecessors. Together we selected specific vineyard sites, each with their own personality, to create wines of distinction, precision, and balance.
The core of my wine producing philosophy is to respect the terroir in each wine, thus accepting the responsibility to honor what the earth has given us. In early 2014, Carte Blanche continued its commitment to that mantra in welcoming Helen Keplinger as our new winemaker. With each vintage, we celebrate Carte Blanche—the freedom to create wines from singular or multiple vineyards, varietals or appellations. We constantly strive to extract the best out of nature and science. Our art and creative freedom allows us to work with an open canvas and develop exceptional wines that enhance our celebration of life.