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Loyola University New Orleans Graduate Creates Wolf Pack Cuvée Wine

Loyola press release - October 26, 2016

Lagniappe Peak Vineyards is taking orders now – with plans to deliver in time for Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras parties packed with “the Pack.”

When Bob Almeida ‘72 was an undergraduate at Loyola University New Orleans, he received an academic scholarship — a gift he has never forgotten. Now, the founder of Lagniappe Peak Vineyards in Napa Valley, Calif., is returning that generosity — raising funds for an academic scholarship by selling a unique vintage wine named for the Loyola Wolf Pack.

“My parents were immigrants. They believed strongly in the power of education and saved to send me and my brother to college. I was fortunate to receive a four-year scholarship to Loyola,” Almeida recalled fondly. “The arc of my life has really changed because of those four years. My wife and I have always been donors, but now we have this 3.0 existence as founders of a vineyard in Napa Valley, and we thought this would be a fun way to give back.”

Almeida and his wife, Debb, who also attended Loyola, hand farm their own grapes on their estate, located on Atlas Peak in Napa Valley. The 2014 Lagniappe (LAN-yap) Peak Wolfpack Cuvée is crafted from Malbec sourced from the Snowden Vineyard, just north of Rutherford; and Syrah, hand farmed on their estate on Atlas Peak. The wine has a pleasing, lush texture which is complimented by the polished tannins anchoring the finish.

“We like to have fun with our wines, and every varietal in our program has a fanciful name and a story,” Almeida said. “Just like Wolf Pack Cuvée, each story evokes something significant in our lives.”

Just as Almeida believes the name Lagniappe Peak will have a special resonance in New Orleans, where the term lagniappe has historical meaning and is widely used, Lagniappe also has a special significance to the Almeidas, since their winery is located on very rocky hillside soil. When they bought the property in 1999, the Almeidas learned they would have to do “a little something extra” to be successful.

“Our most recent lagniappe was deciphering how to plant our estate — the soil is challenging and vines are stressed — but it actually makes for a beautiful wine. Stressed vines are difficult to cultivate, but typically yield a rich and intense wine, Almeida said. “The joke is that our vines are so stressed that we need to give them therapy once a week.”

That special ‘something extra’ is reflected in our wines,” Almeida said. “Of course the most significant lagniappe in our lives is Loyola, because that is where we met.”

The new Wolf Pack Cuvée wine has completed 2 years of barrel aging and is being bottled later this month. Almeida is planning a November 3 reception on campus, to which he will invite alumni and bring samples. The wine will be released in February 2017, at a cost of $45 per bottle. He’s taking orders now on the Lagniappe Peak website.

A significant portion of the proceeds from each barrel goes to Loyola’s merit-based scholarship program. For each bottle sold, the Almeidas will contribute $20 to Loyola scholarships. Should the wine prove to be popular, the Almeidas are planning to continue giving through this kind of a program, which “feels so much more personal than giving a check.” Stand by for Wolf Pack Cabernet, Wolf Pack Rosé and more.