From deep in the cave of memory comes a sympathetic beast, a friend, a counterpart. He brings memoirs, stories of scents and flavors almost forgotten. He is the Cave Dog.
Michael Havens founded and ran Havens Wine Cellars from 1984 to 2008, championing Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the Napa Valley. A desire to return to this tradition has led him back to vineyards he knows well and a wine style he reveres. While much has changed in the Napa Valley and in Michael’s life, Cave Dog continues his focus on graceful, elegant expressions of these varieties.
While living in Switzerland beginning in 1969, Michael Havens learned a love of authentic wines made from local varieties, wines “without makeup.” Their simple addition to daily meals and the rhythm of vineyard work that nurtures it touched his vision of what it means to enjoy life in moments.
From a career teaching English at the University of California, Davis in the early 1980s, Michael and his late wife, Kathryn, started their eponymous winery on Hoffman Lane, just south of Yountville. Their time in France had led to a love of Right Bank Bordeaux and Rhone varietal wines, varieties barely touched in California winemaking to that point. Michael decided to take advantage of southern Napa’s cooler climate to emphasize restraint and balance, a nonconformist move that lead him to produce one of the valley’s earliest single-varietal Merlots and the first Carneros Syrah. Years later, following visits to northern Spain and Portugal, he would also pioneer the first Albariño grown and bottled in the United States, sparking interest that has led to the growing cultivation of this grape in California today.
Over the course of his career, Michael also served as winemaker and consultant to many producers, from family wineries like Truchard Vineyards to industry titans such as Foster’s Wine Group. His clientele has also extended to American importers of Chilean, Argentine, and South African wines, who have sought his expertise in selecting, blending and directing cellar techniques. Always the professor at heart, Michael has also reviewed candidates’ dissertations for London’s prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine.
A decision to sell the winery in 2006 allowed Michael to develop his consulting business while exploring more “underdog” varieties across Iberia, France, and Italy. Besides consulting, he collaborated beginning in 2009 with Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Wine Company on the successor in Albariño, Abrente. In 2011, Michael purchased California American Terroirs, an agency shipping West Coast wines to Europe and Asia. He kicked off the Cave Dog label with the 2014 vintage, rebranding himself with renewed energy and far more romanticism than he’d like to admit. Today Michael continues to work his export business, consults in Northern California, and can be found enjoying wines with the delicious food made by his wife, chef Mari Havens, in their Napa Valley home.
Barrett grew up in Southern California well away from the wine world. He made his way to the Central Coast to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. While studying food science, fermentation piqued his interest and soon after graduation, started working for a winery in the Edna Valley. He has spent years working and managing through many different roles such as lab technician, bottling manager, cellar master and associate winemaker. Over 8 years of winemaking has taken Barrett up north to Sonoma, overseas to Australia and New Zealand, and he eventually settled in the Napa Valley. Here is where he met his wife, Christina and together they have two daughters, Madeline and Daisy. Barrett joined the Cave Dog team to work alongside Michael Havens, learn his style, techniques, and manage production. When Barrett isn’t hard at work assisting with crafting unique wines, he enjoys reading, discovering new music, cooking, and spending time with his young family.
Rian was raised in the Napa Valley amongst world class wineries and vineyards, so getting into the wine business over 15 years ago was a natural transition. A lover of food, wine and fine hospitality, Rian spent many years in the restaurant business in Napa Valley and San Francisco. Throughout her career, most of her time has been spent working in wineries in hospitality and marketing, and as a Manager of Tasting Rooms and Direct to Consumer Sales. She spent 6 years managing a wine and beer distributor in Sun Valley, Idaho where she married her husband Chris and had their first born, Isla James. She now resides in Napa with Chris, Isla, Zane and their dog Lokoya. Rian loves to camp, hike, bike, cook, entertain and of course, drink wine.