New Brand: CADRE Wines

Jul 13, 2020


Cadre's Sea Queen, Stone Blossom, and Band of Stones


I’ve been rooted in Edna Valley’s wine industry for over 20 years, but my story started many decades earlier. My grandfather Jack Niven first planted San Luis Obispo’s modern-day vines in the early 1970’s and is considered the pioneer of the Edna Valley. He just happened to plant his historic Paragon Vineyard shortly after I was born. Little did he know that these plantings and his vision would determine the fate of the region.

Decades later, this fate led me and my wife down the path to start our own winery focusing on vibrant energetic white wines from the Edna Valley.

John Niven, Owner
Jack Niven, founder


Since the late 1990’s I have developed my family’s portfolio of expressive, innovative, world renowned wines. Unfortunately, the company was sold, leaving me with the daunting task to tackle the next phase of my life. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, this drove me to start Cadre and continue my determined quest to show the wine world the greatness of vibrant white wines from the Edna Valley. A passion, a vision and a 2nd mortgage later, here I am, ready to continue this journey. I’ve got unfinished business in this valley and a keen drive to continue the legacy that my grandparents built.

Cadre's location of Edna Valley


A Cadre is a small group that has been specifically chosen to band together and promote a greater cause. In this case, this is a Cadre of cool climate small production Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, and Sauvignon Blanc that is out to show the wine world the greatness of the lively, high acid, energetic and mineral driven cool climate white wines from the Edna Valley. This Cadre is not just made up of these wines, it includes myself and my tireless passion for the region. No one believes in these wines more than me. Our San Luis Obispo Coast has just begun to scratch the surface on exploring the endless potential of the world of white wines beyond its already proven beautiful Chardonnays. There is so much to learn, and we are just getting started.

Morning sun illuminates the vines at Cadre Vineyard.


The Edna Valley is the single coolest AVA in all of California. Year round fog defines the region. A fascinating fact of the region is that our warmest part of a typical day is right around noon and only lasts an hour or two. That small gap comes after the morning fog burns off and before the deep waters of the Pacific delivers cool foggy coastal afternoon winds. It has one of the, if not the, single longest growing seasons on the West Coast.


The incredible opportunity showcase white wines filled with vibrant energy, minerality, and a whole lot of individual character.  At the end of the day, Edna Valley is truly a gem on an area for white wine varietals and deservedly should  wines define the limitless possibilities of cool climate white wines from the South Central Coast.  We are bound by no laws or traditions, so we are able to harness our endless potential via some of the world’s most notable white wine varietals… Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, and Albariño.


I had the vision of being avant-garde while having an old world feel.  It was also important to try to speak to the wines through the imagery. We wanted the wines to trigger a connection to all while inviting intrigue.  Makers & Allies Design Studio hit a home run.  We were on the same page from day one, and I couldn’t be happier with how the design brings the vision of the Cadre white wines to life.


Cadre Sea Queen

Cadre Sea Queen Albariño 

PLACE | A wine that soaks up all elements of the sea both above and below ground. Grown just 5.5 miles from the Pacific, this wine embraces why the Edna Valley has proven to be the New World home of Albariño. The varietal has been grown in the Edna Valley since 2001 and I’ve been fortunate to work with it since 2005. The one thing I have learned is that this wine speaks to the site and nearby sea.

AROMATICS | On the nose, this wine bursts with spicy citrus and salty zest.  There is a seductive orange blossom aspect paired subtle banana and cardamom notes.  You can definitely smell the sea influence on this wine as there are briny notes that speak to the nearby Pacific Ocean.  White flower notes are ever so present, but salty tangy citrus is the driver.

PALATE | On the palate, this wine is full of tang and energy.  Our Albariño never lacks acidity. In fact, managing that high acidity presents one of our biggest challenges, yet that is our greatest gift. There is a rich assembly of citrus, white fruits, stone fruit and tropicals that are all corralled with bright acidity from start to finish.  A lingering freshness and minerality cements Albariño as the one varietal that is queen of the sea.

Cadre Stone Blossom

Cadre Stone Blossom Sauvignon Blanc 

PLACE | The source of this bottling is a single block bottling from my grandfather’s original plantings of which are now 48-year old vines. I feel a tight connection to these vines as they were planted just about when I was born.  Cool climate Sauvignon Blanc in California is rare as most are grown in warmer regions.  Crafted from old vines grown in an extreme cool climate, this Sauvignon Blanc represents a promising outside the box expression from our golden state.

AROMATICS | Aromatically this wine bursts with salty citrus with spicy green herbaceous notes and passionfruit thiols. In the background, there are hints of a green apple, cucumber and melon with floral aromas of coriander. There is definitely an attractive earthiness on the nose that successfully pairs up with a promise of bright citrus.

PALATE | Imagine if there were Sauvignon Blanc pop rocks…this wine is right there with its explosive freshness on the palate.  Don’t let the energy fool you, there is a ton of texture to this wine that brings out a complex collection of flavors. Salty citrus leads, followed by earthy green herbal notes that are rounded out by melon and peach.  All of this is framed by mouthwatering minerality.   This is definitely not your typical California SB.

Cadre Band of Stones

Cadre Band of Stones Grüner Veltliner

PLACE | A cultivation of sea and land as written and composed by a band of stones, this Grüner comes from a single block at the far southwest side of the historic Paragon Vineyard. It’s made up of well drained soils with flecks of limestone and an underlying layer of residual material weathered from sandstone, shale, and mudstone. Day in and day out they are pushed to their limits of a long drawn out ripening process which ultimately delivers ripe fruit but preserves our vibrant acidity. This wine shows the promise of Grüner Veltliner grown in the extreme cool climate of the Edna Valley.

AROMATICS | Aromatically, the wine leads with a salty citrus edge with earth tones that have exotic hints of North African spices. From there is a depth of jasmine and beautiful citrus driven tropical fruit, reminiscent of squeezing a lime wedge over the meat of a half cut Papaya.

PALATE | A base of salty citrus, ginger and white pepper mingle with grapefruit that all lead to a savory zesty finish drenched in minerality.  This wine touches both sides of the Grüner spectrum, bright, fresh and vibrant along with texture and a fullness that showcases what makes Edna Valley white wines unique.

Cadre Ode to Pearls

Cadre Ode to Pearls Sparkling Albariño

PLACE | This limited sparkling wine hails from the same block that goes into the Sea Queen Albariño, but picked at lower ripeness levels. It embraces Albariño’s ability to soak up all elements of the sea both above and below ground. There is no doubt that Albariño has found its home in the Edna Valley and it’s only fitting that the exploration of the varietal has found its way into a micro production of a zero dosage Sparkling Wine.  Albariño speaks to the nearby Pacific and is loaded with lively natural acidity.

AROMATICS | This wine is exotic and a one of a kind that rewards the senses.  An explosion of lively green apple, citrus and salty baking spices.  Floral notes of jasmine and ginger are there with a sense of depth.  The wine evolves as the effervescents keep the aromatics of this wine in a constant evolution.

PALATE | The zero-dosage element of this wine has it dancing on the palate from start to finish.  It’s alive with an array of citrus, mineral and spice.  Up front, it’s almost sensory overload but when you come back down to earth citrus, brine and stone fruit settle in with an exotic fruit element that leaves you to sit back and take in its rewarding evolution. This is a micro production wine that is sure to keep the sense in a deep state of satisfying intrigue.

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