Vine Hill Ranch is a family-owned grape-growing operation in Oakville that is now making its own artisanal wine. The Phillips family has been farming the 50-acre Vine Hill Ranch since 1959 growing outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon for such producers as Cakebread and Robert Mondavi. But like an increasing number of long-time, multi-generational growers, the Phillips family in the last decade decided to use some of their grapes for their own cuvee. Their first commercial release was a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. Francoise Peschon, who trained at Chateau Haut-Brion in Bordeaux and is the long-time winemaker at Araujo, is the winemaker at Vine Hill. Noted viticulturalist Mike Wolf is vineyard manager. Vine Hill Ranch is on prime land at the edge of the Mayacamas Mountain Range with Harlan and Dominus as neighbors. In 2011 the Phillips family won the Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ Grower of the Year Award. Reviewers have awarded Vine Hill Ranch wines with ratings in the mid to high 90s. In 2013 Vinous Media wrote that “Vine Hill Ranch is one of the very best and most pedigreed wines in Napa Valley…” Vinous also noted that “Vine Hill Ranch….continues to cement its place in Napa Valley’s top echelon.”
Oakville AVA is one of the two or three most prestigious appellations in the United States. Located in the heart of Napa Valley, its 5,000 vineyard acres produce some of the world’s most acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon, including such California “cult” Cabs as Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate. Before those boutique producers rose to fame in the 1990s, Oakville was already renowned as home to Robert Mondavi, Opus One and Groth Vineyards, among others. Along with the famous wineries, there are premier vineyards in this AVA, including Martha’s Vineyard and To Kalon Vineyard. To Kalon was first planted in 1868 by H.W. Crabb, one of California’s first viticultural researchers, and he named the vineyard after the ancient Greek phrase for “most beautiful.” Though many grapes can be successfully grown in Oakville, Cabernet Sauvignon is king. Merlot and Chardonnay are also frequently planted. Oakville Cabs are prized for their richness, complexity and weight. Oakville was designated as an AVA in 1993.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.