Jody Harris

  • The problem:

Cultivar Restaurant and Wine Bar owner Jody Harris fell in love with Napa Valley at a young age and learned to be a steward of the land. Now he tends the vineyard at Caspar Estate, where he uses to preserve Napa’s most valuable resource: water (and his own most valuable resource: time).

Jody Harris at the Caspar Estate vineyards in Napa Valley.

  • The Solution:

The Steward of Napa Valley

Jody Harris, owner of the prestigious Cultivar Restaurant and Wine Bar in San Francisco, has roots that run deep through Napa Valley. Today you’ll usually find him at Cultivar in San Francisco, but that wasn’t always the case.

He grew up visiting his grandparents’ summer home in Napa Valley, a farm in the Mayacamas mountain range high above the Rutherford Bench. There his grandparents taught him how to be a steward of the land and instilled in him a love for the beautiful rusticity of the Valley. As a child, he helped his grandfather on the farm, rode tractors, gathered mushrooms, cleared trails, and wandered the mountainside.

Many years later, Jody purchased the same land he spent so many summers exploring and dubbed it the Caspar Estate, named after his grandfather to honor his legacy and the lessons he taught Jody about caring for the land.

Jody got to work right away to bring out the natural beauty of Caspar Estate. He rekindled the dormant grove of 80 Mission olive trees that dated back to the 1900s and planted 800 new trees alongside them. In the proceeding years, he and his team worked on the 13-acre vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot varietals which now produce several tons of fruit each year. A quarter-million honeybees pollinate the vineyard and other fruit trees that grow throughout the estate.

At Caspar Estate, Jody is committed to using organic, sustainable farming techniques to preserve and protect the land he has come to love. Using solar panels, keeping bees, making compost, and providing hospitable environments for predatory birds to help control pests are just a few of the sustainable practices used at Caspar Estate.

Given his commitment to the land, it’s no surprise that Jody does everything he can to control water usage and prevent water loss on his land as well.

In an area where water is as valuable as oil, Jody takes full advantage of what has to offer by having nineteen sensors installed throughout his property, covering his three water tanks, six wells, and nine flow meters.

“Essentially, [] helps me figure out problems faster,” he says. “Instead of discovering water loss at a later time, I can head right to the source instead of checking every single potential culprit.”

The visibility, remote control, and automation offers are especially important to Jody because he can’t be physically on site at all times. Running a high-end restaurant and wine bar in the city is a commitment, so Jody splits his time between the vineyard and his restaurant in San Francisco. In fact, most weeks he spends more time at the restaurant than the vineyard—in part because gives him that flexibility.

Jody’s restaurant, Cultivar, is his way of sharing the bounty of Napa Valley with others. At the restaurant Jody serves wine from the Caspar Estate vineyard, and dishes include olive oil and honey produced on the estate as well.

Jody’s love for Napa Valley is apparent in the way he has tended the Caspar Estate over the years. Installing is yet another gesture of admiration and appreciation for the land. The chance to preserve water isn’t simply a financial decision for this vintner—it’s a way to honor what has come before and protect all that is yet to come.

What’s more, empowers a busy entrepreneur and restauranteur like Jody so that when he visits the vineyard he no longer has to choose between checking on water issues and tending the vines. For Jody, means more time to focus on growing, winemaking, and restaurant operating—and less time worrying about water.