RECOGNITION Since our first vintage release, we’ve enjoyed sharing our wine and the Vine Hill Ranch story with others. Please click the links below to read more about VHR.
Wine Spectator Nov. 15, 2013
The New & The Noteworthy: Six Producers taking Cabernet in New Directions
Aaron Romano, Harvey Steiman, Augustus Weed
VHR: Farming Napa Valley History
In the 1960s, Bob Phillips, now 89, transformed the Vine Hill Ranch, where fruit orchards and hay fields once stood, into one of the most sought-after vineyards in Napa Valley for Cabernet Sauvignon. Bruce Cakebread, who has bought grapes from Vine Hill Ranch since 1981, says of Phillips, “He's really dedicated to his vineyard. We’ve gone through replants and phylloxera together, and he'll go to the Nth degree to grow the best grapes.”
The 70-acre vineyard, nestled between Harlan Estate and Dominus in the southwestern corner of Oakville, undulates from the benchlands to the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, with seven different blocks all dedicated to Cabernet. It's in Phillips' modest nature to have chosen farming over winemaking, and he's sold grapes to some of Napa's finest producers, including Cakebread, Etude, Lail and Bond. One of the first to source his vineyard was André Tchelistcheff for his Georges de Latour bottlings at Beaulieu Vineyards.
In 2004, Phillips’ son, Bruce, along with vineyard manager Mike Wolf, talked Phillips into making wine. Grapegrowing, however, remains a big part of the business; only 10 percent of what they grow goes into the VHR label, which debuted in 2008. “Our passion lies in the vineyard, and the core business will always be growing,” says Bruce, who manages grower operations for VHR.
Winemaker Françoise Peschon utilizes what Phillips calls the “winemaker's toolbox,” designating sections within the estate to craft the blend. “The fruit from the higher-elevation blocks has a rich, earthy, chaparral quality, with intense black fruit, while the benchland blocks offer bright fruit flavors with silky tannins,” says Bruce. “Our program is driven by the vineyard, is an exploration of the site and an expression of each vintage.” Rating: 93