2020 Conundrum Red Blend
It all began at the dinner table. Charlie Wagner Sr. – who co-founded Caymus Vineyards in 1972 with wife Lorna and son Chuck – would mix wines to find the perfect glass to pair with his meal. No one blended wines back then, so his experiment was pretty radical. Fast forward to 1989, when Conundrum White was born, quickly taking off with its mysterious, tropical notes and amazing versatility.
Today it’s Charlie Sr.’s grandson and namesake, Charlie Wagner, who keeps Conundrum as inventive as ever. He launched Conundrum Red, a wine that is both lighthearted and serious. Charlie loves how there are no single-varietal rules when it comes to making these wines, and each has a unique style. They also showcase some of the best wine regions California has to offer, from Napa Valley to Santa Barbara County and many places in between.
A major force on the global playing field, California is the world’s fourth largest wine-producing region on the planet and the majority of land under vine here is devoted to red varieties, covering nearly double the vineyard acreage of whites.
While the state’s incredibly diverse terrain and microclimates allow for countless red wine styles, the one factor unifying all California red wine is the abundance of sunshine and a long, consistent growing season, which leads to well-developed and fully ripened fruit.
Director of Winemaking
Back story: Comes from a long line of Napa Valley farmers and winemakers. Went from riding his dirt bike through the vineyards to taking over production for Mer Soleil Chardonnay in 2003. Launched Conundrum Red in 2011.
Earliest wine adventure: Getting suspended in middle school for bringing firecrackers to school; spent his “punishment” working at a family vineyard in Monterey County.
Philosophy: Perfect-looking grapes don’t create the best-tasting wines. Complexity matters more than perfection.
Favorite wine & food pairing: I’m always up for something different – I recently tried Bánh mì, a Vietnamese “sandwich” that’s flavorful, a little spicy and goes great with a chilled glass of Conundrum Red.
Life outside work: Spending time with family and introducing his two young sons to the same kinds of outdoor adventures he had and loved as a kid.