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Now it is our turn.

Sam Kaplan
Nancy Kaplan

Don’t get us wrong. We know we’ve been lucky to work with some of the best in the business.

Sam, in his winemaking career, has been on the ground floor of some of Napa Valley’s most exciting wine projects in recent history, helping to plant vineyards, build wineries and cement reputations with wines that speak of the unparalleled sites in which they’re grown.

Nancy, as a chef, spent years in top restaurants in New York and Napa Valley, honing her craft and her palate beside celebrated chefs who demanded nothing less than perfection.

We’ve had wonderful mentors, and access to exceptional raw materials. But now we get to apply all of our experience and all of our learning to our own wine project - MAXEM.

For many years, too many to count, we worked hard and waited for the right opportunity...

Now it’s here, and we are ready.

Although we both feel that MAXEM was meant to be, we know that serendipity played a significant role. This project would not exist except for one very special person, Ulises Valdez.

Sam Kaplan & Ulises Valdez

Ulises manages the UV Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast, a site well-known to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fanatics. We’d tasted wines from this vineyard several times, and though we knew it was a longshot, we decided to see if we could purchase some of its fruit.

The site wasn’t the only thing attractive about UV, although its coastal location, well-drained soils, and meticulous farming protocol are precisely what we sought.

Maxem Wine
Maxem Wine

It was Ulises himself - an immigrant who worked for others for decades before striking out on his own - who drew us to this place. His story, his struggle, resonated with us; after spending a lot of time in other vineyards, this was the one that felt right to us.

When Sam met Ulises over lunch, the first thing he said was that he had no fruit to sell. But as the meal progressed, Sam and Ulises swapped life stories, and even a few tears. A bond was formed, and by the end of the afternoon, Ulises said...

“I may have a little fruit for you, mi amigo.”

It also combines our two children’s names, Max and Emma.

Maxem Wine

With the UV Vineyard as our source, we make Pinot Noir from the historical Calera clone and Chardonnay from the equally acclaimed Wente clone.

Sam is winemaker; Nancy, with her laser palate, has an equal say. The grapes lend themselves to the style of wines we both love: exquisitely balanced with bright acids and high tones yet richly textured and possessing full depth of flavor.

It is our palates that have driven us here, to this style of wine and especially to the UV Vineyard.

Our production, of necessity, is small. Someday we hope to make more, to be able to share our wines more widely.

Our journey is just starting; who knows where it will lead us. For now we’re happy to be farmers, kicking dirt, making wine, and working hard to make our own dreams a reality.

Sam & Nancy Kaplan