The beauty of being a négociant winery is that we are fortunate to source our grapes from the vineyards and growers that share our exacting standards. This allows us the freedom to craft boutique wines that are only limited by our imaginations – and you can be sure there’s no shortage of that! Here are the vineyards we are currently privileged to work with…
Natural gravelly terrace with sedimentary bedrock
260 Ft. / 79 m
Benessere sits in the northern part of St. Helena, just above the thinnest section of the Napa Valley. This 43-acre property occupies a natural gravelly terrace, its 36-acre vineyard lying along the Napa River across a range of varying soil types. Created by centuries of runoﬀ from the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountains and the once-powerful Napa River, the diverse soil composition of St. Helena is unlike any other in the valley. Coupled with the unique cooling eﬀects of the valley ‘funnel’ tempering the daytime heat, these special characteristics help Benessere Vineyard achieve seamlessly ripe and well-balanced fruit.
While Benessere is best-known for its Italian grapes, it is planted with a mix of noble Italian and French varietals. The property has thrived since John & Ellen Benish purchased it in 1995 and completely replanted its plots. The estate was once a horse ranch and vineyard workers sometimes find old horseshoes in the soil. Obsidian is also found in the Benessere vineyards, a type of naturally occurring volcanic glass once used by local Indian tribes to make arrowheads and other tools. One of Benessere’s neighboring sites is the historic Collins Holystone Vineyard, which contains rare Zinfandel vines dating back to the 1920s.
Beckstoffer Bourn Vineyard
Deep loam subsoils
246 Ft. / 75 m
Reserve Red, Curvature Cabernet, Napa Valley Cabernet
Beckstoffer Vineyards’ Bourn plot was originally owned by William Bowers Bourn II, considered the last Bonanza King of the California Gold Rush due to his ownership of the Empire Mine. William Bowers Bourn II is also credited with having built Greystone Cellars in St. Helena (currently the Culinary Institute of America Greystone). He purchased his vineyard in St. Helena in 1872 as a family home and to this day much of the original vineyard land remains in the care of his descendants.
Beckstoffer Vineyards were able to buy a portion of the original vineyard in 2010. They replanted the site with head-trained, old-growth Petite Syrah and various clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, adding Bourn Vineyard to their esteemed Heritage Vineyards sites. Covering 12 acres of prime St. Helena terroir just south of the town and at the mouth of Heath Canyon, the vineyard benefits from the alluvial Sulphur Creek soils that were once brought down from the Mayacamas. Consisting of sandy loam over rolled gravel and cobbles, this free-draining soil helps produce prime Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Syrah grapes, all grown and tended with impeccable care by Beckstoffer’s team.
Beckstoffer Vineyard Georges III
Pleasanton loam, Cole silt loam, Clear Lake clay, Perkins gravelly loam, Cortina vey gravelly loam
135 Ft. / 42 m
Beckstoffer Vineyard Georges III Cabernet Sauvignon
Beckstoffer’s Georges III vineyard has a long and illustrious history. Records show that grapes were first planted here in 1895 by Mrs. Thomas Rutherford, granddaughter of Napa Valley’s pioneering vigneron George C. Yount. Later, in 1928, the 300-acre parcel was purchased by Beaulieu founder Georges de Latour, becoming the source of the legendary Rutherford Cabernets made by Beaulieu’s winemaker André Tchelistcheff. These wines achieved wide acclaim beginning in the 1940s and established Beaulieu Vineyard’s pre-eminence in the making of fine, world-class Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Beckstoffer Vineyards purchased the site in 1988 and replanted it meticulously with new Cabernet Sauvignon clones, using tighter vine spacing and advanced trellising systems to enhance both fruit quality and quantity. Today, the vineyard has a plantable area of 251 acres, with its vines growing in prime ‘Rutherford dust’ – the gravelly, loamy soils derived from the alluvial sandstone bedrock that blesses this part of Napa Valley. Lying low on the valley floor, Georges III vineyard benefits from the Rutherford Bench, a strip of land near Napa River and Conn Creek where pockets of clay beneath the old creek-bed soils giving the vines better water access. Combined with excellent western exposure and the cooling morning mists, fruit ripens slowly and steadily here, producing grapes of immense finesse and character.
Gravelly loam with plenty of rounded river cobble and deep river sedimentary rock
370 Ft. / 113 m
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
The original Homage Vineyard occupies a modest five acres in Calistoga’s western valley, tucked between the Napa River and the Diamond Mountain foothills. The vineyard was established in 1973 as a mixed grape concern, then later planted exclusively with Cabernet Sauvignon. Current owners Avia and Simon Hawksworth bought the property in 2005 when the vineyard had been neglected for several years. They invested heavily (both money and love!) to return it to a premium quality site, where great Cabernet Sauvignon could once again be produced with all the distinctive characteristics of Calistoga’s terroir.
Calistoga is arguably Napa Valley’s most misunderstood AVAs. Yes, it is hot here without the cooling Bay mists to temper the heat, but its western vineyards experience cool coastal breezes that funnel through the Mayacamas from Sonoma. The mountains also give Calistoga Napa Valley’s widest diurnal swings, with plunging nighttime temperatures that allow grapes to retain their balancing acidity. Plus, the sub-region enjoys one of Napa’s most geologically uniform soils, enriched with some of its highest levels of volcanic sediments. And lastly, Calistoga records Napa’s highest rainfall year-on-year, allowing many growers to dry-farm their grapes and still achieve optimum quality. All these extremes gently stress the vines and help concentrate flavor in the berries, producing some of Napa Valley’s most profound grapes, which reach their zenith in small, carefully managed vineyards like Homage.
A mix of shallow loamy soils and ancient stream beds
Carneros in Napa Valley
72 Ft. / 22 m
It’s fair to say that Larry Hyde helped put ‘Los Carneros’ on the Napa Valley wine map. Before he established his 178-acre vineyard, Carneros was unchartered territory. The sub-region was something of a viticultural afterthought back in the 1970s, regarded only really as a source of grapes for sparkling wine. But Larry Hyde changed all that. He invested the time, the passion, and the vision to create a vineyard that has earned him the reputation as the most well-respected grape grower in Carneros, possibly one of the best in all of Napa Valley.
Straddling both Napa Valley and Sonoma County, the Carneros AVA stretches across the bottom of both counties, its southern borders lying along the flatlands above San Pablo Bay. As such, Hyde vineyard is heavily influenced by maritime conditions. Chilly fog blankets the vines in the morning, while ocean winds sweep in from the Pacific in the afternoon. The light soils are shallow, a combination of ancient stream bed loams that sit only a few feet above a layer of impenetrable clay. All in all, the vines don’t have it easy at Hyde, being gently stressed through the long growing season. These influences put a distinctive stamp on Hyde Vineyard’s grapes, heightening the phenolic maturation in the fruit and gives us just what we need to draw out both intensity and balance in our wines.
Orchard Avenue Vineyard
Transitional from gravelly consistency to silty clay loam
134 Ft. / 41 m
Curvature Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Owned and managed by Andy Beckstoffer since 1997, Orchard Avenue Vineyard comprises 64 acres of some of Napa Valley’s finest Merlot vines. The vineyard lies in the foothills leading up to Mount Veeder, near the Lower Napa River, where it is cooler than the central and eastern parts of Oak Knoll. Indeed, while Oak Knoll’s climate is not as cool as Los Carneros, it is cool enough around Orchard Avenue to allow grapes an extra couple of weeks of ripening time over more northern Napa AVAs. This allows for greater uniformity in fruit ripening and more concentrated flavors. It also helps preserve acidity and brightness in the fruit, leading to wines of balance and clarity.
The Oak Knoll District was awarded its American Viticultural Area status in 2004, honoring the sub-region’s rich history and distinctive terroir. The area benefits from a climate tempered by morning fog and cool nights. These moderating influences give Oak Knoll one of the longest growing seasons in the Napa Valley. Soils at Orchard Avenue are crumbly and free-draining loam with plenty of rocky deposits brought down from the Mayacamas by Dry Creek. This makes it harder for the vines to push their roots out too far, restricting growth and forcing all the energy into the fruit. As a result, Merlot grapes from Orchard Avenue vineyard have lively aromatics and lush flavors. We particularly like the plump mid-palate weight they give our wines and the luscious complexity of their flavors.
Pride Mountain Vineyard
Well-drained gravelly volcanic loam soil
2,119 Ft. / 646 m
Curvature Cabernet Sauvignon
Overlooking Napa Valley from its hilltop setting high in the Mayacamas, Pride Mountain Vineyards is draped along the geographical boundary between Napa and Sonoma Counties. Hailed as one of the “world’s greatest wine estates” by Robert Parker, Pride Mountain covers 235 acres of stunning mountaintop terrain, with 85 acres of vineyard interspersed with the native hillside vegetation. Once known as Summit Ranch, grapes have been grown on these high slopes since 1869. There are wine caves dug deep into the mountains here, plus the ruins of an old stone winery dating back to 1890. Carolyn and the late Jim Pride purchased the estate in 1989, carefully revitalizing and replanting its vineyards under the guidance of Napa viticulturist “Laurie” Wood. Today, Pride Mountain Vineyards is still family-owned, by Jim and Carolyn’s children Steve Pride and Suzanne Pride Bryan.
The terroir of Pride Mountain Vineyards is very special. Soils here are surprisingly deep, given they’re on the very crest of the Mayacamas. The volcanic loam is rich in clay and receives a lot of winter rain – roughly double that of the surrounding valleys. As a result, the growing season starts later in these 2000-feet high slopes as the soil takes longer to dry out. This is balanced however by the abundant sunshine these high mountain plots receive, and the strong UV light. It is this extra UV that is the key to the muscular ‘mountain character’ of Pride Mountain Vineyards’ grapes. For although their vines receive a lot more sunshine, temperatures are around 10% cooler here than in Rutherford. But it’s the intensity of the light that increases the grapes’ tannin and phenolic levels, giving them roughly 25% more than red grapes in the surrounding valleys.
334 Ft. / 102 m
Lying just south of Calistoga town, Tofanelli is one of the oldest vineyards in the Napa Valley, an extraordinary working example of a pre-war, dry-farmed Napa Valley vineyard. In this modern, margin-driven age, there’s something compelling about being among Tofanelli’s vines, which were first planted in 1929. It’s like stepping back in time to Napa vineyards as they would have been 100 years ago. This isn’t to say that Tofanelli is some sort of museum. Far from it, Vince Trofanelli produces some of the most sought-after fruit in Napa. It’s just how they’ve always done things here, and they see no real need to change. Tofanelli’s free-standing bush vines are so old-school they’d probably be familiar to a Roman vigneron. There’s no trellising, no irrigation, and the farming is strictly organic here – albeit in an uncertified, intuitive way, rather than as a modern crusade for sustainability.
Because Tofanelli farms without irrigation, the threat of drought is always a concern here in Napa’s most northern AVA. And yet Vince Tofanelli’s dry-farming system, which involves tilling the topsoil around the vines to a depth of six inches, acts as a sort of reverse insulation layer that helps keep the sub-soil moist – even through the hottest months when the temperature in Calistoga can reach 100°F. Due to the vine’s age and the farming practices used, Tofanelli’s vines have a deep and complex root system. Without the luxury of drip irrigation, they have to push deep down into the earth to find water. This makes them somewhat drought-proof, as they have been able to adapt to fluctuating weather patterns by putting their energy into staying alive rather than bolting with outgrowth every year. This gives Tofanelli’s fruit a distinct concentration of flavor, with an incredible complexity from the mineral deposits drawn from deep in the Calistoga soils.
Wappo Hill Vineyard
Distinctive gravelly and clay loam soils
88 Ft. / 27 m
Wappo Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Owned and managed by Robert Mondavi since 1969, Wappo Hill Vineyard covers 400 acres of prime southern Napa Valley terroir. The vineyard borders the Napa River and is bisected by Chase Creek, benefitting from the AVA’s distinctive gravel-and-clay loam soils and the profound influence of the Stags Leap Palisades cliffs. The famed Stags Leap terroir is centered around the push-pull influence of these steep and jagged cliffs. Not only do they soak up the afternoon sun and radiate it back into the vineyards at night, but they also draw in brisk marine air from the San Pablo Bay and funnel it into the vines, cooling the warm fruit and developing the sub-region’s distinctive perfumed qualities.
Stag Leap’s soils are also particularly noteworthy and are again influenced by the Palisades. Rocky debris in the form of volcanic rhyolite and tuff has been carried down to the valley floor over millennia, where it mingles with the deeper Bale loam subsoil formed from ancient river sediments. These free-draining soils gently stress the vines, which must force their roots down in search of water. This helps produce beautifully ripe and flavorful fruit blessed with balanced acidity and velvety texture – albeit in very limited yields. The name Wappo refers to the indigenous people of this part of California, who used the Stags Leap as a key lookout post.
Loam and sedimentary rock based derived from basic igneous rock
731 Ft. / 223 m
Manzanita Vineyard Pinot Noir
Manzanita vineyard lies near the town of Annapolis at the northern end of the Sonoma Coast AVA. The two-acre vineyard is organically farmed by the Valdez Family, in line with the pioneering work of their late father Ulises, who tended the vineyard for over a decade. The Dijon-clone Pinot Noir vines are well matched to the calcareous sandstone soils and high altitude of this site.
Perched above the fog line at an elevation of around 1,500 feet, the Manzanita vineyard lies close to the Pacific Ocean coast. The proximity of the ocean keeps the rugged site cool, its cold air tempering the sun’s heat during the warmer months. Despite the cool mornings and cold nights, however, due to the vineyard’s high elevation, the grapes soak up more ultraviolet light, which helps the thin-skinned Pinot Noir ripen with a pronounced perfumed vibrancy fruit and refined, mouth-coating tannins.