Eleven Eleven Winery guests wine tasting in lounge.

Eleven Eleven Winery in Napa

By Published On: July 19th, 2023

Interview with Founder Ellie Anest.

Eleven Eleven is considered one of Napa’s urban wineries, conveniently located on Trancas Street.

Symbolizing perfect balance, the time 11:11 inspired their winery’s name. Every sip of their wine, visit to their property, and glimpse of that special time on the clock invites you to create your own extraordinary moment. 

We interview Founder Ellie Anest to learn more.

What type of wine do you specialize in?

Eleven Eleven Winery Founder Ellie Anest: Our portfolio focuses on single-varietal estate wines grown in Napa Valley’s Oak Knoll District AVA, complemented by carefully selected sourced vineyard designates from Napa and Sonoma.

Varietals include Rosé of Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Late Harvest Zinfandel, and our flagship wine Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ellie Anest with her wine portfolio.
Ellie Anest with her wine portfolio. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

Currently, our winery owns a total of 35 acres of land, including 25 acres of sustainably farmed estate vineyards. This allows us to produce 14 different varietals, which is quite impressive for a small producer. Our unique vineyard locations in the Oak Knoll District AVA feature diverse micro-climates that provide ideal conditions for the cultivation of various types of grapes.

We take pride in our land and how it affects our environment and we are currently phasing our farming into organic farming practices.

Eleven Eleven Winery exterior and vineyard.
Beautiful winery view. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

Share a few tasting experiences.

Ellie Anest: First, the 11:11 Experience offers a one-on-one hosted tasting of our current signature white and red wines. Guests can sip and learn about our single-vineyard, single-varietal wines which are produced in a classic, artistic style that embodies a belief in the purity and power of a varietal and its terroir.

Eleven Eleven Winery guests wine tasting.
Wine tasting with friends. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

Next is the 11:11 Estate Experience which offers an intimate tasting experience of our current signature Estate wines grown on vineyard properties that we own and sustainably farm in the Oak Knoll District AVA of Napa Valley. Additionally, experience a tour of our winemaking production facility.

The Cabernet Experience is our most elevated tasting experience. Hosted in a private setting, guests will have the exclusive opportunity to taste the Library vintages of our highly celebrated Laki’s Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, along with other varietals from our portfolio.

Private tasting room atEleven Eleven Winery.
Private tasting space. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

Having produced this Cabernet Sauvignon since 2012, we have the opportunity to see how this vineyard expresses itself differently with each vintage while maintaining the core of beautiful dark fruit that makes this varietal the cornerstone of our portfolio. Also included in this tasting is a tour of our winemaking production facility.

What makes your wine unique?

Ellie Anest: Masterfully crafted by Winemaker Kirk Venge, our wines are a genuine reflection of Napa Valley and Sonoma County’s finest vineyards. Our limited-production wines are polished and approachable, with expressive fruit, balanced acidity and a complementary tannin structure. They are a pure expression of the varietal and the single vineyard in which they’re grown.

Guests touring the vineyard at Eleven Eleven winery.
Touring the vineyard. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

How did you get started in the wine industry?

Ellie Anest: I had a rather unconventional entry into the wine business. After university, I entered into the corporate finance world with companies including KPMG, YUM Brands – Taco Bell Corporate and RGP. From there, I went on to start my own consulting practice.

In 2012, I really yearned for a new entrepreneurial opportunity. That is when my lifelong friend Carol Vassiliadis and I started looking into the idea of creating a luxury vacation rental portfolio, which brought us to Northern California. The first Napa Valley property we acquired was in the Oak Knoll AVA, surrounded by a 3.5-acre vineyard.

Eleven Eleven winery owner Ellie Anest in the tasting lounge.
Ellie Anest in the tasting lounge. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

We quickly realized the site had the potential to become a great vineyard. Then, as I came to know Kirk Venge, who became our winemaker, and the community of growers in Napa Valley – which is very welcoming and supportive and reminds me of my Greek family – my neighbors confirmed my assumptions.

More than a decade later, Eleven Eleven has indeed succeeded and is recognized as a modern treasure of an urban winery.

Aerial view of Eleven Eleven winery entrance and patio.
Aerial winery view. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

Favorite food and wine pairing?

Ellie Anest: During the summer season, I love a fresh Greek Salad with a slice of Spanakopita with our Eleven Eleven Beckstoffer Sauvignon Blanc.

Eleven Eleven Winery 2022 Beckstoffer Sauvignon Blanc.
2022 Beckstoffer Sauvignon Blanc. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

Do you remember the first time you fell in love with wine?

Ellie Anest: Wine has a truly enchanting ability to bring people together and create everlasting memories. During my time in the vibrant and diverse culture of San Diego, I had the incredible opportunity of immersing myself in a close-knit community of friends. It was within this community that my love and appreciation for wine flourished.

Whether it was embarking on a journey to explore wines from different corners of the world or simply indulging in a bottle with dear friends at a cozy wine bar, each experience deepened my passion for the art of winemaking.

My journey eventually led me to Napa, where I was fortunate enough to further expand my knowledge and appreciation under the mentorship of the legendary Kirk Venge. Working alongside Kirk is like attending a masterclass in winemaking, as his undeniable and eloquent passion for sharing his knowledge is truly inspiring.

In addition to these experiences, my travels to renowned wine regions such as France, Italy, and Greece have allowed me to gain a broader understanding of the world of wine.

Cabernet Tasting Experience at Eleven Eleven Winery.
Cabernet Tasting Experience. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

Describe your winemaking approach.

Ellie Anest: At Eleven Eleven Winery, we take pride in our boutique production of luxury wines. Led by Winemaker Kirk Venge and Director of Winemaking Brett Weis, our team focuses on creating varietal-specific wines that truly showcase the unique characteristics of the vineyards they come from.

Eleven Eleven Winery Rosé of Syrah.
2022 Rosé of Syrah. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

Kirk and Brett bring a selective approach to winemaking, carefully choosing to collaborate with families who share our values and have a long-standing commitment to both the culture and care of growing and winemaking. Through this collaboration, we are able to create wines that not only meet our high standards but also reflect the rich history and expertise of the vineyards we work with.

Eleven Eleven Winery Winemaker Kirk Venge with the Director of Winemaking Brett Weis.
(L-R) Winemaker Kirk Venge with the Director of Winemaking Brett Weis. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

By highlighting the essence of each vineyard, we aim to create a distinct and unforgettable experience for wine enthusiasts. We believe that the true essence of winemaking lies in the passion and dedication of the people behind it, and we are proud to work alongside these families who pour their heart and soul into their craft.

Eleven Eleven Winery outdoor patio tasting.
Outdoor Tasting. Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

Do you have a favorite story about working at your winery?

Ellie Anest: One particular memory that stands out is our first gathering following the quarantine period during the pandemic. To celebrate the holidays, we organized a festive party featuring a spirited bowling competition. Witnessing our team bond, share laughter, and embrace healthy competition for exciting prizes was an absolute delight. It was an opportunity for us to reconnect and enjoy ourselves after a challenging time, reminding us of the power of shared moments and camaraderie.

Another cherished memory was the grand celebration of our 10-year anniversary event in November 2022. We gathered our esteemed club members, friends, and family to commemorate this significant milestone in our barrel hall.

Eleven Eleven Winery team at the 10th Anniversary Party.
Team at the 10th Anniversary Party. Photo Courtesy: Rocco Ceselin.

The evening was enchanting, featuring a meticulously curated, chef-prepared menu served in courses. The ambiance was elevated by the captivating musical talents of Jazz musician Brian Newman, and the venue itself was transformed with stunning decor that illuminated the barrel hall in a truly magical manner.

It was an unforgettable evening filled with joy, delicious cuisine and wine, mesmerizing music, and a delightful sense of togetherness.

What do you love about the winemaking process?

Ellie Anest: There are many aspects of the wine business and the making of wine that are simply beautiful. One of these is the connection to nature. The connection to nature holds a special place in my heart because I was raised in Nebraska where my Father was a farmer. Growing up, our livelihood was dependent on the land and Mother Nature working together to provide a healthy crop. In the world of winemaking, farming the vineyards is where the process begins, making it a truly intimately connected craft to nature and the environment.

Another aspect of winemaking I appreciate is the creation of a unique and hospitable experience for guests. My Mother imparted the Greek traditions of creating a warm and welcoming hospitality, making guests feel welcomed and comfortable in our home.

Sharing wine creates a sensory experience where each bottle evokes emotions, memories, and a sense of place that can bring joy to those who experience it.

Finally, what I enjoy most about winemaking is the sense of community and collaboration it creates. Working with other winemakers, vineyard owners, and industry professionals allows for knowledge-sharing, camaraderie, and a shared passion for the craft. There is always something new to learn and explore in the ever-evolving world of wine, creating opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Do you have any winery traditions with your team?

Ellie Anest: At Eleven Eleven, one of the ways we nurture camaraderie and a sense of belonging is by celebrating our shared traditions. We cherish a variety of traditions that help us come together as a team and celebrate our success.

Every month, we make a point to gather and celebrate birthdays with a special toast accompanied by bubbles and delectable desserts. It’s a fun and light-hearted way to mark our colleagues’ special day and show them how much we appreciate them.

In addition, we organize team off-sites to create opportunities for us to bond and collaborate in engaging ways outside of the office environment. These out-of-office experiences have been known to spark creative insights and foster meaningful relationships among team members.

Our annual holiday party is another special occasion where we come together to reflect on the year and enjoy each other’s company. It’s an opportunity to express our gratitude for all that we’ve accomplished and the bonds we’ve formed over the course of the year.

Eleven Eleven Winery team celebrating Christmas holiday.
Winery team celebrating the holiday! Photo Courtesy: Eleven Eleven Winery.

When harvest season arrives, we embark on a meaningful tradition by blessing the first fruit of the year, symbolizing gratitude and abundance. This act of spiritual significance reminds us of the importance of our work and instills a sense of purpose and meaning in what we do. We also create custom harvest T-shirts each respective season for each team member to celebrate this valued tradition.

Overall, these traditions help to strengthen our bonds, create a shared sense of purpose, and nurture a culture of appreciation and togetherness among our team members.

How important is your team in the success of Eleven Eleven?

Ellie Anest: Over the course of 11 years, this team has evolved and transformed, with each person who has graced our doors leaving an indelible mark on who we are today. Our story begins and ends with the people who bring their passion and dedication to nurture our foundation.

I understand and value the vital importance of building a strong team from the ground up. It is my firm belief that a thriving winery begins by cultivating a community of talented individuals who share our unwavering commitment to quality and excellence but also embody our winery’s core values.

Just as our winery grows and evolves, so too does our team. We deeply value the personal and professional growth of our team members, investing in comprehensive training and development opportunities.

Eleven Eleven is a testament to the unwavering power of the people who comprise our team. Each individual who has joined us contributed to our journey and made us who we are today holds a special place in our hearts. As we continue to build upon our foundation, we remain committed to nurturing a strong team that is the backbone of Eleven Eleven’s success.

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