Boasting the very first vineyards in the Napa Valley, planted by George Yount in the mid-1800s, Yountville became an appellation in 1998. Although relatively small, 2,700 or so acres are under vine, it is the home of some of the top growers and vintners in Napa Valley. Diversity of soils and microclimates facilitate a number of varietals, besides Cabernet Sauvignon, to thrive. There are some terrific Sauvignon Blancs and a stellar Petite Syrah or two. Don’t let its size fool you: this viticultural area is overflowing with wine gems no discerning drinker can afford to miss.
2360 California Drive, Yountville, CA 94599
Blankiet Estate sits on the western foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, directly above Yountville. Their vineyard, named Paradise Hills, was planted in 1996 to Bordeaux varietals by Claude and Katherine Blankiet. Meticulous farming, state of the art winery, no fining or filtration, exceptional barrel program, and smart winemaking choices account for Bordeaux blends of distinction and impeccable elegance. Denis Malbec, the winemaker, crafts a small amount of aromatically stunning rosé as well.
2570 Napanook Road, Yountville, CA 94599
Dominus is a wine institution. Owner Christian Moueix, has an impressive wine empire which includes Chateaux Petrus, La Fleur-Petrus, Trotanoy, and Magdelaine yet he could not resist Napa Valley charm. In 1982, Moueix started developing Dominus’ Napanook vineyard and the rest is history. The wines are remarkably consistent and impeccably crafted; this legendary producer has lots of hits and virtually no misses. The wines are invariably ageworthy, sleek, and profound.
P.O. Box 225, St. Helena, CA 94574
In addition to being fantastic grape growers, Jennifer and Herb Lamb are the sweetest people on Earth. The Lambs bought a small, steep, and rocky property in 1987. They cleared the trees and planted what turned out to be an extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard. Miniscule yields and intense fruit attracted winemaker Helen Turley, who sourced fruit from Herb Lamb for Colgin Vineyards. Made in tiny 100 case lots, their HL and Two Old Dogs Cabernet sell out in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Don’t forget their stunning Sauvignon Blanc.
1001 State Lane, Yountville, CA 94599
Lou Kapcsandy, a contractor and importer, along with his wife Roberta (Bobbie) and son Louis Jr., decided to launch a wine production business of their own and set out to find the finest vineyard in Napa. That vineyard turned out to be Beringer Estate State Lane vineyard which had succumbed to phylloxera. The vineyard was fully replanted and the Kapcsandy brand is now produced in its own state-of-the-art winery. Star winemaker, Denis Malbec, previously worked at Château Latour, Haut-Brion, Lagrange, and Duval Leroy. A favorite of Robert Parker, the vineyard routinely turns out some of the most critically acclaimed wines in the valley. In addition to world class Bordeaux blends, they make a riveting rosé packed with bright red fruit and ample acidity.
P.O. Box 376, Rutherford, CA 94573
Piña is one of Napa Valley’s best kept secrets. In addition to producing exceptional wine, Piña is also renown as one of the top vineyard management companies in Napa. Their boutique production of Cabernet Sauvignon is relatively unknown; yet anyone who discovers them is in for a treat. Meticulous farming, low yields, and exhaustive blending trials account for a stellar portfolio. One of its stars is D’Adamo Cabernet Sauvignon. It is inky, lush, and jam-packed with cassis and other black fruits…a hedonistic beast that will seduce your senses in a flash. Also noteworthy is their Chardonnay crafted in Burgundian style, with crisp acidity, sleek minerality, and lovely floral aromatics.