Do you remember the time when Screaming Eagle cornered the market on cult vineyards? Today, while it’s still exclusive, there are new members of the club. We have your new wish list for the top six off-the-radar wines from the Valley. If you’re a collector, or just like good grape juice, these need to be in your cellar. And the great part, is that a number of these cult wine vineyards are accessible; no second mortgage needed to fund your wine habit.
Why we like it: We love a good love story, and Promise is named after the promise the co-owner made to his wife when they married. Also, this is Oprah’s favorite rose, and if it’s good enough for Oprah, well, you know the rest. If you have the inside track, (aka us) you can also do private events and wine tasting at their gorgeous property.
The Wines: The rose, by virtue of Oprah’s endorsement, is the most well-known, at around $65/bottle. The reds shine though, from the 2018 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley and the 2017 “The Gratitude”, all under $175. Their highest end wine currently released is the 2017 Promise, which is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon at $250. This may not technically be a cult wine vineyard because they welcome guests, but it is wine to know. And enjoy. Not everyone has to take themselves to seriously.
Why we like it: This is a wine, that punches way above its weight class. Where most varietals are under $225, the quality is right up there with peers like cult wine vineyard Bryant Family Vineyards, which will set you back a cool $1k. It’s probably because their winemaker, Philippe Melka (check out our interview here) has consulted to the best of the best in the valley. Melka is firmly in Napa, but it’s distinctly French and refined in character.
The Wines: They have four labels – Metisse, Mekerra, Majestique and CJ (named after their kids). Within these labels, they have specific vineyards within them, so their offerings are vast at about 13 wines current release.
Why we like it: Fairchild defines cult wine vineyards nowadays. This is as exclusive as it gets. Fairchild wines are only available to their allocation list, and they don’t even distribute to restaurants or through retail. This is a true passion project by the owner Lawrence Fairchild, who knows pretty much anyone who gets a bottle of his rarified wine. The packaging is also some of the most unique, with hand-blown glass bottles with custom clocks that rotates.
The Wines: The Fairchild Perrarus from 2015 is known to be one of the most expensive Napa wines ever bottled, at about $3,500. If you can ever get your hands on it, the Sigaro Cabernet Sauvignon runs about a tenth of their highest tier wine, at about $349/bottle.
Why we like it: We love women winemakers, who are few and far between in the valley. Much less on Pritchard Hill, which is arguably the most rarified soil in Napa. Ann Colgin has led the Colgin estate since 1988, far before the term “cult wine vineyards” existed. Under her leadership, it’s a future is female dream team, with Director of Winemaking, Allison Tauziet, also on board. The wine is so good, it was acquired by LVMH a few years back.
The Wines: Current releases include Tychson Hill, Cariad, IX Estate and IX Estate Syrah. Colgin, no surprise, is also on allocation to the few, where wines run between $350 and upwards of $700/bottle.
Why we like it: The sister wine to cult vineyard Harlan Estates, owner H. William Harlan has eyed this plot of land since the 1980s. It wasn’t until 2008 though, that he acquired what is now Promontory. The estate is private, but when you can get past those gates, it’s one of the most impressive estates and experiences in the Valley. They also sell their wine on property, versus their sister brands Bond and Harlan, who only sell to their allocation list.
The Wines: The 2014 is the latest release, though you may be able to get your hands on the 2016 for future arrival. Wines run around $900 a bottle for the 2014.
Why we like it: Dana means the spirit of generosity in Sanskrit, which is already off to a good start. In the Mayacamas Mountains, Dana Estates is a true passion project, all about making the best wines. It’s a high-tech operation, and they brought in the best – Philippe Melka himself – to consult. The estate itself is stunning – it was designed by famed architect Howard Backen.
The Wines: Dana Estates produces three distinct, single vineyard wines under the labels Helms, Hershey, and Lotus. They also make a Bordeaux-style wine called Onda and a Sauvignon Blanc. Wines are right around the $500 price point.
The Bonus – The Wine Cave
Why we like it: This is technically not a vineyard, but it’s cool AF and needs to be on your list when you roll into Napa as a first stop. This gets you primed for the Napa festivities. You will be challenged to find anything about the experience online, so message us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll hook you up.