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La Jota Vineyard Howell Mountain

Throughout the 1980s and 90s La Jota has been a source of some of the most powerful and impressive examples produced in the Howell Mountain AVA. The winery has become famed for massive dense and tannic reds that need considerable cellaring but develop very well in bottle. Ownership has passed from Bill Smith (now vinifying […]

Lail Vineyards Rutherford

Although this is a newly established small-scale winery, owner Robin Daniel Lail’s family history goes back to the beginnings of viticulture in Napa itself. One of her ancestors, Gustav Niebaum, established the original Inglenook winery in 1879. Five wines are now made here. The J Daniel Cuvée is a Bordeaux blend of two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon […]

Lagier Meredith Winery Mount Veeder

This property high up on Mount Veeder was purchased by Lagier and Meredith in 1986. Remote and seemingly far away from the humdrum of Napa Valley grape growing, the redwood forests nearby are home to mountain lions and coyotes. Originally one wine was made here, a richly textured, very pure and intense Syrah. The first […]

Kuleto Estate Winery St Helena

Pat Kuleto began establishing vineyards on this eastern Napa ranch in 1993 and there are now plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay, all now released varietally, as well as some Muscat. A Rosato is also produced from Sangiovese. Production is approaching 10,000 cases a year, small in winery terms yet […]

Juslyn Vineyards Spring Mountain

Founded in 1997 by British expatriates, this is an impressive source of Cabernet that should be worth following. The Butlers’ 17 ha (42 acre) Spring Mountain property is the source of the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is rich and full, with impressive concentration and a fine cedary undercurrent adding further complexity. An additional Meritage […]

JAQK Cellars Napa Valley

Is this serious or is it humorous? Wine drinking poker players should be thrilled with this new conception of marketing wine. The brainchild of Joel Templin and Katie Jain, already at the forefront of graphic design, have teamed up with Craig MacLean, one time winemaker for Cain Cellars and Spring Mountain Vineyards , to produce […]

Hourglass Wine Napa Valley

A handful of reds and an Hourglass Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (£E) are made here. The Hourglass site is a tiny 1.6ha (4 acre) vineyard planted in 1992 in close proximity to the COLGIN Tychson Hill, VINEYARD 29 and GRACE FAMILY vineyards. Spread across the hillside as well as the valley floor, the soil is made […]

Hess Collection Winery Mount Veeder

An unusual operation in that Donald Hess also provides visitors with access to his extensive art collection. The wines here are impressive, particularly the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, produced under the Hess Collection label and vinified from estate Mount Veeder fruit. A new pricey top wine The Small Block Reserve from the Napa Valley is […]

Heitz Wine Cellars St Helena

One of the original benchmark producers of premium Napa reds, particularly the great Martha’s Vineyard Cabernets. Quality has been up and down during the 1980s and 1990s but the wines are now sounder and they seem generally to be improving. The Bella Oaks and Trailside bottlings are a touch lighter than Martha’s Vineyard but impressive […]

Havens Winery Napa Valley

A good, small range of wines with the Bordeaux varieties a key element in the portfolio. Certainly rich and impressive when at their dark fruited best, the wines can be marked by oak. Bourriquot is a Bordeaux style blend, but Right Bank rather than Left, being a stylish blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. A […]

Grgich Hills Estate Winery Rutherford

Mike Grgich made his reputation at CHATEAU MONTELENA before going on to establish a formidable track record under his own label. All the wines are now coming solely from estate fruit and the vineyards are farmed biodynamically. Chardonnay is big, full and typically opulent in a classic ripe and forward tropical Napa style. It is […]

Green & Red Vineyard Napa Valley

Small estate in the Chiles Valley on the eastern side of the Napa Valley whose main focus is Zinfandel. Consultancy input from Helen Turley of MARCASSIN has provided the stimulus for well-crafted ripe and supple examples of the variety. All of the wines are now made from estate grown fruit. The Chiles Mill is an […]

Grace Family Vineyards St Helena

This tiny operation was the first of the now numerous Calfornia cult wineries and the Grace Family is one of the most exalted premium Cabernets in California. It commenced production in 1978 and barely 400 cases are made annually from the family vineyard. This was one of the first vineyards to be planted with close-spaced […]

Gloria Ferrer Vineyards Carneros

The style here is for rich, ripe sparkling wines sourced mainly from estate vineyards in Carneros. While the wines are typically Californian, the impressive winery and cellar, referred to by the Ferrer family as ‘Champagne Caves’, is designed in an unusual hacienda style. The Chardonnay is a style that should be enjoyed young. The Pinot […]

Gemstone Vineyard Napa Valley

Small property producing an impressive meritage red from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Merlot and Cabernet Franc as well as a Cabernet Sauvignon blended with a little Petit Verdot. Second label Facets has much more Merlot, the last vintage currently available is 2008. A tiny amount of Chardonnay is available only on […]

Gargiulo Vineyards Oakville

Small boutique winery producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Money Ranch Vineyard, as well as a red blend Aprile Super Oakville. This is dominated by Sangiovese with a little Cabernet Sauvignon to add grip. The wine is in a light, elegant style but offers impressive intensity at this price level. It is supple and […]

Frog’s Leap Winery Rutherford

John Williams established Frogs Leap with Larry Turley, who went on to make superstar Zins at TURLEY CELLARS. The emphasis of the marketing here is on fun, reflected in the labelling. Pull a cork and you’ll see what I mean. However, the wine is serious and can be very impressive. The style is for forward, […]

Peter Franus Wine Company Rutherford

Impressive small producer with a range sourced from a number of committed grape growers. The style is very much one of minimal intervention and the wines are impressive without being overdone. Cabernet comes from a number of Napa sources. Zinfandel is always stylish and vibrant: the Napasourced example is impressive but better is the stylish […]

Franciscan Estate Vineyard Oakville

Agustin Huneeus sold Franciscan to Canandaigua in 1999 along with the two sister wineries ESTANCIA and Mount Veeder Winery, although he retained his prestige QUINTESSA operation. The wines here are good and in most cases offer reasonable value for money. They are very much in a rich California vein, being very ripe, upfront and fruit-driven. […]

Flora Springs Winery St Helena

Sizeable family-owned and run operation with a broad selection of wines. The Komes’ now own nearly 200 ha (500 acres) of Napa vineyards, providing a considerable resource for their range. Among the flagships are the Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Hillside Reserve and the proprietary red Trilogy, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. […]

Far Niente Wine Oakville

There are just two main wines at this well-established (first vintage 1979) estate in the heart of Napa. The original winery here dates back to 1885 and was created from gold-rush money. Fruit quality is maintained through ownership of vineyards in five sites and covering no less than 95 ha (235 acres). The Cabernet is […]

Fantesca Winery Spring Mountain

Tiny property producing initially just 400 cases a year of Cabernet Sauvignon from around 4 ha (10 acre) vineyard in the south-eastern reaches of the small Spring Mountain AVA. To this have been added a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir King Richards Reserve both from the Russian River, as well as a red blend All Great […]

Elizabeth Spencer Wines Napa Valley

Elizabeth Pressler and Spencer Graham founded the Elizabeth Spencer winery in 1998, a year after they got married. Elizabeth was a well-known figure in Californian wine circles, having been involved in marketing, hospitality and brand development with several leading luminaries such as ARAUJO, DALLA VALLE, ETUDE, FRANCISCAN, HARLAN, KAMEN, SEAVEY, Soter, SPOTTSWOODE, VIADER and others. […]

Dyer Vineyard Diamond Mountain

The Dyers have both been active in the Califirnia wine industry for the past quarter of a century and more. Bill was the winemaker at STERLING VINEYARDS before moving on to consult in the Napa, Sonoma and in Canada. Dawnine was the winemaker at DOMAINE CHANDON. They purchased their 5ha (12 acres) on Diamond Mountain […]

Duckhorn Vineyards St Helena

This has evolved into a mid-sized operation since it was founded in 1978. The main focus of the operation is Merlot. A good regular Napa Valley bottling is joined by top-end examples from estate fruit as well as two other premium labels from the Rector Creek Vineyard and the Three Palms Vineyard. Examples are also […]

Domaine Chandon Winery Yountville

Probably the best-known among the California sparkling wine producers and established way back in 1973, Chandon is also producing a limited amount of Carneros-sourced still wine from the traditional Champagne varieties bottled as varietals, with the Carneros Reserve Pinot Noir the highlight, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley and Mount Veeder. Of […]

Domaine Carneros Winery Carneros

California outpost of the Champagne house TAITTINGER. As well as the sparklers it has recently been producing some stylish and reasonably impressive Pinot Noirs. These are in a ripe and full berry fruit style. Famous Gate is aged for 10 months in one half new oak and has a little structure; the Domaine bottle is […]

Del Dotto Vineyards Napa Valley

David Del Dotto is a relatively new name in the Napa Valley wine community but he has one of the most unconventional approaches to selling and marketing his wines. Only a proportion of his resources go into producing the wines rated below which he sells in general distribution as well as at the winery tasting […]

Diamond Terrace Diamond Mountain

The Taylors purchased their 6.5 ha (16 acre) vineyard in 1998. Cabernet Sauvignon was originally planted in 1984 and the vineyard brought up to its present size in 1992. They have now decided to retire and 2008 was the last vintage. Production was tiny and for Napa the wine reasonably priced. It is an elegant […]

Darioush Winery Napa Valley

Darioush Khaledi established this winery in 1997 but the results are already impressive. He owns 13 ha (33 acres) of vineyards around the site of the spectacular new winery building, along with 10 ha (25 acres) in the Mount Veeder and Atlas Peak AVAs. Most of the wines are released under the Signature label. The […]

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