Second Generation Napa Vintner Shannon O'Shaughnessy Launches Aileron Estates
November 11, 2020
Napa, Calif.——Decades after she helped her family launch their iconic Napa Valley winery, O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery, Shannon O’Shaughnessy today announced the launch of new wine brand Aileron Estates, where she is forging her own path in the wine industry. An adrenaline junky and pilot that relentlessly pursues adventure, O’Shaughnessy named Aileron after the hinged surface on the edge of an airplane wing that steadies and guides the plane, symbolizing the dogged pursuit of one’s dreams despite the turbulence life throws at us.
The Winemaking and Viticultural Team
Outside of the family winery, O’Shaughnessy spent 25 years working in multiple facets of the wine business, including distribution, sales and brand consulting. This diverse collection of experiences has prepared her to take on the challenge of launching her luxury and limited-production Napa Valley brand, working tirelessly as one of the few solo female vintners in the industry today.
O’Shaughnessy has entrusted Aileron to the world-class winemaking team consisting of renowned consulting winemakers Philippe Melka and Maayan Koschitzky of Atelier Melka. Throughout his 30-year career, Melka has worked with premier chateaus and wineries throughout Bordeaux and Napa Valley, including Dana Estates, Tusk Estates and Lail Vineyards. Koschitzky joined Atelier Melka in 2014 and has also worked with several iconic, cult Napa brands including Screaming Eagle and Dalla Valle prior to joining the Melka team.
With more than 40 years of experience working in high-end vineyards throughout Napa Valley and the North Coast, Aileron’s viticulturist John Derr has a long and meaningful history with O’Shaughnessy’s family, as he helped them plant their estate vineyard on Howell Mountain back in the 1990s. Almost 30 years later, Derr is running point on Aileron’s estate vineyards for the second-generation O’Shaughnessy vintner.
It all started with a small plot—just one acre—of organic and dry-farmed Sauvignon Blanc vines on a cool and sprawling Coombsville estate. O’Shaughnessy discovered and then purchased this property in 2014 which was planted by acclaimed consulting winemaker Andy Erickson and his wife, Annie Favia. This vineyard was the impetus for O’Shaughnessy finally embarking on her longtime dream of starting her own wine brand. Now set in her front yard, the vineyard serves as a daily reminder of her vision, and while it produces just three tons an acre, the resulting wine has a concentrated, mineral quality that is exceptionally nuanced thanks to the climate variations of each vintage.
In 2019, O’Shaughnessy purchased a Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard with rocky, red soils at the top of Napa’s Atlas Peak AVA, located just two sites over from the famed Stagecoach. The first Cabernet Sauvignon from the 10.2 acres of vines at Altimeter Estate will be from the 2019 vintage.
Having grown up in a small agricultural community in Minnesota, O’Shaughnessy believes that farming is at the core of winemaking. These two estate vineyards—the heartbeat of Aileron—enable her to have complete control over the grape growing process and how it will impact the final product in bottle. But she’s also preserving the link to her family’s legacy by sourcing one block of Cabernet Sauvignon from their Rancho Del Oso vineyard on Howell Mountain, planted in 1997. Block 3 of this mature hillside vineyard is grown in deep, red volcanic soil that gives Aileron’s Cabernet Sauvignon exceptional texture and body.
Winemaking & Wines
Aileron’s inaugural release consists of two wines: the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc ($80) from the Coombsville Estate and the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ($160) from the Rancho Del Oso vineyard on Howell Mountain, with only 185 cases and 200 cases respectively.
Seeking the purest expression of terroir, O’Shaughnessy strives to literally taste the river stone from her home vineyard in each glass of Sauvignon Blanc. So while Melka and Koschitzky utilize state-of-the-art winemaking equipment and processes, they’re careful to let the grapes breathe in order to craft wines that are truly representative of the vineyards they were grown in.
Experiencing Aileron Estates
Aileron Estates offers by-appointment-only, fully private tastings at either the Vault in Rutherford or at Brasswood Estate just north of St. Helena. To arrange a tasting of Aileron’s estate wines, please contact the winery at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707.561.9454.
About Aileron Estates
Founded in 2016, Aileron Estates is a boutique luxury Napa Valley wine brand that produces limited-production and estate-grown Sauvignon Blanc from Coombsville and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Howell Mountain and Atlas Peak AVAs. With 25 years of experience in the wine industry, which included an integral role in the launch and development of her family’s brand, O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery, Aileron is a longtime dream fulfilled by founder Shannon O’Shaughnessy, one of the few solo female vintners in Napa Valley. In 2019, O’Shaughnessy placed Aileron wines in the experienced and sought-after hands of the rockstar winemaking team from Atelier Melka, consisting of Philippe Melka and Mayan Koschitzky. For more information, please visit https://aileronestates.com.