Dum Spiro Spero – 2020



Since 1955, the Snowdens have farmed their vineyard high above the Napa Valley. In addition to the stunning views of St. Helena, Rutherford and the San Francisco Bay, the estate offers four separate sites producing remarkably complex and individualistic wines. Winemaking duties are in the capable hands of Diana Snowden Seysses. The winery produces Bordeaux blends from their estate vineyards and a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc from a small parcel they call the Lost Vineyard.

The Wine

Vineyard Profile
  • Cabernet from Brothers and Los Ricos vineyards
    • Brothers:
      • Altitude: 800 feet
      • Soil: Rhyolite (volcanic sand)
      • Vines Planted: 2011
    • Los Ricos
      • Altitude: 650 feet
      • Exposure: East
      • Soil: Rhyolite
  • Cabernet Franc from Melchior Kemper vineyard
    • Altitude: 800 feet
    • Soil: Rhyolite (volcanic sand)
Harvest Notes
  • 2020 began with warm, dry winter
  • Rain and cold weather end March
  • Very cool mornings and warm days in Summer
  • Low seasonal rain created small berries and small clusters
  • Fires began 8/17 and 9/27 – harvest between those events
  • Hand harvested 9/9 – 9/20/2020
  • Rigorous lab testing of wine
  • Fermented using only wild, native yeasts
  • Aged 18 months in 50% new French oak barrels
  • Bottled unfined on 4/25/2022
Winemaker's Notes

“Dum Spiro Spero” –While I Breathe I Hope– is the Snowden family motto, which has appeared on every label and every cork since Snowden was founded 30 years ago. The 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon is being used to mark a unique Cuvée from a unique growing year, when winemaker Diana Snowden Seysses combined the Cabernet Sauvignon which would normally have gone into the Brothers and Los Ricos vineyard designates, with the Cabernet Franc from the Melchior Kemper block. Diana loved the small clusters and small berries of 2020, and describes the wine as having spectacular concentration. 

Wine Summary

Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; alcohol: 14.5%; fruit from Brothers, Los Ricos and Melchior Kemper blocks at altitudes of 800 and 650 feet; rhyolite (volcanic sand) soils; hand harvested between 9/9 – 9/20/2020; fermented using only native yeasts; rigorous lab testing; aged 18 months in 50% new French oak barrels; bottled unfined 4/25/2022.

Technical Information
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
  • Alcohol: 14.5%


90 Points

Juicy and focused, with a bramble and licorice edge to the core of plum and cherry preserves. Offers modest toast that lets the fruit play out, with a tobacco hint on the friendly finish. Drink now through 2030.

Wine Spectator, June, 2023

91 Points

The 2020 Dum Spiro Spero is named for the Latin saying in the Snowden family crest, which translates to ‘While I breathe, I hope.’ Indeed, I hope you let this breathe a bit in the glass, for it is power-packed, muscular, and needs a bit of air to unlock its savoury wild herbs, tobacco, and liquorice-laced black fruits and kalamata olive notes. Full-bodied and shows the warmth of the vintage through saturated black fruit notes tinged with crushed coffee and toffee bean notes—elegant cedar and sandalwood notes cap off broad-shouldered tannins and soft acidity through a red berry-laden finish. 2023 – 2035

Decanter, April, 2023

93 Points

This wine was of course made during the terrible season of wildfires that plagued much California and Oregon wine country. The wine has turned out beautifully, coming in at 14.5 percent alcohol and offering up a pure and nicely black fruity nose of cassis, dark berries, cigar ash, lovely soil tones, a touch of menthol, dried eucalyptus and a discreet framing of new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and ripely tannic, with a fine core, excellent soil undertow, firm, chewy tannins, lovely focus and balance and a very long, pure finish. This is going to be outstanding wine in the fullness of time, but will need some time to hibernate in the cellar before it is ready to drink. 2036 – 2085

View From The Cellar, November, 2023

16.5 Points

Bright mid crimson. Clean and energetic. Even sinewy and certainly more transparent than most Napa Cabs. 2023 – 2027, October, 2023

93 Points

The 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon Dum Spiro Spero is the only wine Snowden made in 2020. It’s an impressive showing for the year. Black cherry, chocolate, leather, licorice and espresso are amplified. In 2020, Diana Snowden Seysses picked a bit riper than she would have otherwise, something that was imposed by the challenges of the year. This is a very fine 2020. 2023 – 2030

Vinous - Antonio Galloni, December, 2023

General Info

Country USA
Region Napa Valley
Appellation(s) Napa Valley
Proprietors Scott and Joann Snowden and Randy and Janet Snowden, managing directors of Snowden Vineyards
Founded 1955
Winemaker Diana Snowden-Seysses
Annual Production 2,900 9L cases
Farming (Sustainable, organic, biodynamic) Sustainable (including no chemical herbicides used in vineyards)