Tribe and Arrow and Olet’te Wines (pronounced o-lee-tay) was founded by Jenny Lynn Heim (born in Modesto, California). Her journey into wine began when she studied business administration at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo. She switched to Cal Poly’s new winemaking program – and earned a dual degree with a bachelor’s in viticulture and winemaking, followed by a master’s in global wine marketing. One of his professors got him a job after he graduated from the University of Calistoga. It may not have been the most exciting job for someone with a degree in viticulture, but she found her first job in the wine industry, at a small beer and wine compliance company.
Shortly after, she worked at Markham Vineyards and then spent 12 years on the road selling wines for Trinitas Cellars and managing their national sales and marketing program.
In 2011 she decided to start producing her own wines, initially mainly pinot noir. Thanks to a winemaker friend, she was able to obtain a small amount of pinot noir from the highly regarded Terra de Promissio vineyard in Sonoma County. Grapes from this vineyard were used to make the Costa Brauna Pinot Noir, which was named the best wine of the 2009 vintage by Wine Spectator in 2011. Not a bad vineyard to produce your first Pinot Noir!
Today, Olette wines focus on grapes typically grown in Sonoma County – with an emphasis on a vineyard named Pinot Noir. Chardonnay and sparkling wine are also produced. Jenny oversees the winemaking for both brands, but with a strong network in the valley she has worked with several winemakers, including Alan Viader (in his early days) and now Kevin Vecchiarelli.
The name Olet’te is associated both with those who inhabited the area before the Westerners (the Coastal Miwoks) and with the area itself. The mythical god Coyote Olet’te is held responsible by the Miwok tribe for the creation of the coastal basins from the sea.
The 2017 Olet’te Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (Dehlinger Vineyard) offers bright, lively flavors that lean toward the ripe side of this varietal. The display cases are filled with fruit, including raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates and red licorice. Some notes of dried rose petals. Some barrel influences are also evident, including lightly toasted cedar and a touch of mocha. The texture is soft and creamy all over the palate, but full of flavors, especially raspberry. The sweetness of the fruit, especially on the finish. The finish is characterized by dark dessert spices and a light touch of tannin.
Through a winemaker friend, Jenny was introduced to Mission Ranch for Pinot Noir, the oldest commercial vineyard in the Arroyo Secco AVA (Monterey County). The 2018 Olet’te King J Pinot Noir Arroyo Seco is a ripe, fruity California-style pinot noir. Rub the raspberries with the vanilla and rhubarb notes from the bouquet. A bowl of fruit in the air, including raspberries, strawberries and cherries. Roundness and softness on the palate with a hint of red berries on the finish.
The wine is called King Jay in honor of his father, who feeds pancakes to the birds in the morning at the family cabin near Yosemite. The meal has always attracted star jays, but their father told his children that these bluebirds are called king jays. Years later, as she tried to choose a name to represent the coastal springs of California’s pinot noir vineyards and pay tribute to both those birds and her father, she remembered those pancakes and began searching online for king jays. She soon discovered that there was no information about a bird named King Jay. She called her brother and he informed her that her father called the birds by their made up names and not their real names, Star Jay.
Tribe & Arrow
2016 was Tribe & Arrow’s first release focused on Cabernet Sauvignon grown and produced in Napa Valley. Through a winemaker friend, Jenny gained access to an excellent vineyard on Diamond Mountain, at about 2,000 feet. The name comes from the fact that the vineyard was a hunting ground for the Indians, as evidenced by all the obsidian and arrowheads found over the years. But it’s also more personal than that. When she visited the winery one day, she could not drive her car inside because the gate was not working due to a power outage. She had to park at the foot of the vineyard and walk – as she walked up the steep path through the vineyard, she found herself almost nose-to-nose with a large tomcat and took this as a sign that she was on the right track.
Each bottle therefore bears the name Diamond Dao, in honor of the sub-appellation Diamond Mountain and Dao – the way or the right way. And when the two words are used together, it may be the summit in reference to the vineyard at the top of Diamond Mountain. It is also a tribute to the way of life – Taoists understand that human life is only a small part of the larger natural world – and that human actions are best appreciated when they follow the course of nature.
The 2016 Napa Valley Tribe and Arrow Diamond Dao Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has ripe aromas of blackberry (warm blackberry pie), hawthorn, vanilla, mocha, brown chocolate and graham cracker. The bouquet is aromatically generous – you could call it a desert in a glass. A palate saturated with layers of ripe richness – there’s a lot of flavor and aroma here. Sustained cedar notes, dark tannins that are well-polished and integrated on the finish. 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot. Almost 16% of alcohol is a hedonistic spectacle. Ideal for those who appreciate the riper style of Cabernet Sauvignon from the mountains in Napa Valley.
The 2017 Napa Valley Tribe and Arrow Diamond Dao Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has a deep ruby color – and offers a beautiful bouquet with aromas of ripe blackberry, creme de cassis, mocha, black olive and vanilla bean. And also notes on Graham the squatter. A nice aromatic interplay between the fruit and barrel influences – neither overpowering. Some aromatic similarities to the 2016 vintage. On the palate, blackcurrant and black cherry flavors emerge – the intensity of the fruit is especially evident on the finish. The dark, earthy tannins, with medium grip, persist for some time. Some dark spicy notes on the finish, including pepper. Perhaps a little spicier on the finish compared to the 2016 vintage. Very tight, almost 4 years after the harvest date at the time of our tasting. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon with 20% Merlot.
VinFormant began when Jenny was working at Trinitas Cellars – and often traveling to promote their wines. However, she found that some of these trips were not economically viable – they spent more on the logistics of the trip than on selling wine. So she set out to find another way to sell wine while supporting small brands that often get little attention because of their limited production. These producers are usually under supervision and often do not have their own tasting room. She and her husband Dan founded VinFormant in 2007.
Wines are offered to the membership list at a discounted price, usually valid for only a few days. The winemaker or owner writes one or two personal paragraphs about his wines, including relevant history and background. And he or she sets the price of the offer – not VinFormant. These offers are a unique opportunity for consumers to discover wines from small brands that they would not otherwise know about.
Community reviews are part of the offering, allowing consumers to leave their own comments and feedback after tasting the wines. List members are scattered across the country. It’s a good opportunity for smaller, mostly Napa-based brands to get some more attention.
In addition, VinFormant also has a private client list that provides access to some of the hardest-to-find wines in Napa Valley, including Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Scarecrow, Bryant Family and Colgin.
Both wine brands are sold directly to consumers – some through VinFormant, but also at the Feast it Forward tasting room in downtown Napa (across from the Oxbow Public Market). Feast it Forward is a kind of collective for small brands that don’t have their own tasting room or retail space, offering a variety of culinary and wine products for sale. It is not necessary to make an appointment to taste the wines.
And just like the dream in the sky at Forward Celebration, Jenny has a small trailer that allows her to go to special events and tastings to showcase her wines. Consumers can choose from several clubs that offer travel premiums in addition to wine and food, including an experience in Napa Valley. For more information, please visit: www.olettewines.com
frequently asked questions
What does tribe mean?
1a: a social group consisting of many families, clans, or generations, as well as slaves, dependents, or adopted aliens. b: the political subdivision of the Roman people, originally representing one of the three original tribes of ancient Rome.
Who are the tribes called?
A tribe is a group of people who live and work together in a common geographical area. The tribe has a common culture, dialect and religion. They also have a strong sense of belonging. A tribe is usually led by a chief. A tribal community is a group of tribes organized around kinship ties.
What is a tribal example?
The Cheyenne and the Blacks of North America, the Berbers and the Amhara of Africa, the Mundu of India, the Hmong of Southeast Asia, and the Basseri of Iran are examples of tribal cultures.
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