A winery with serious history, Vine Cliff is one of the oldest Napa wineries. The Vine Cliff Winery Estate of today is an exquisite mountainside property located on land which was once part of the original George C. Yount estate. Napa locals George Burrage and Thomas Tucker purchased the site for Vine Cliff Winery from the Yount Estate in 1870 (five years after Yount’s death). They then began wine production one year later. Vine Cliff at that time was created into likely the largest winery in the Napa Valley. Although Burrage and Tucker did not live long enough to establish a reputation for Vine Cliff, they did construct an impressive winery and tunnels, one of which remains to the present. The winery was later purchased by a rich San Francis native, John Fry in the1890’s. Fry had made a fortune in Nevada silver and invested heavily in San Francisco real estate. Sadly Phylloxera destroyed the vineyards and wine production by about 1900. After Fry’s death in 1901, most of the winery structure disappeared in a matter of a few years, except for the stone first floor and tunnels.
Amazingly, nearly 85 years later Vine Cliff started again. Nell Sweeney purchased the estate in 1985 and vineyards became alive again with new plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon. More vineyards were purchased by the family in Calistoga and Carneros achieving over 40 acres of estate vineyards by 1999.
I had the chance to review the new releases by Vine Cliff and found them to be gorgeous and compelling. Look for the absolutely gorgeous 2014 Vine Cliff ‘Proprietress Reserve’ Chardonnay (WWB, 93) which is a dense and massive Chardonnay that shows off its unctuous side. Even better was the 2013 Vine Cliff ’16 Rows’ Cabernet Sauvignon (WWB, 94) which is a massive wine that maintains a wonderful Bordelaise side. Learn more about these awesome wines at https://www.vinecliff.com Here are the great new wines by Vine Cliff.
2014 Vine Cliff ‘Carneros’ Chardonnay- Exotic on the nose, creme brulee, roasted pineapple, butterscotch and bananas foster aromatics come to mind. Ripe flavors fill the mid-palate that are reminiscent of vanilla bean, poached pear, creme brûlée and a long, 30 second plus, cream driven finish. There is a lot to savor here as the mouthfeel and texture is excellent. This is definitely not for the weary. Drink 2017-2024- 92
2014 Vine Cliff ‘Proprietress Reserve’ Chardonnay- Sourced from the Carneros region, this wine is crafted from the best blocks of Chardonnay (DIjon clone). This honey-hued Chardonnay wine begins with aromatics reminiscent of roasted banana, brioche and golden delicious apple with mushroom accents. The wine has a ripe, unctuous texture that glides across the mid-palate, delivering ripe banana, butterscotch, Pazzaz apple pie and roasted hazelnut flavors. This is a gorgeous wine made from this estate. Drink 2017-2026- 93
2013 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon- This deep colored wine was sourced from the Oakville AVA. Pencil lead, sage, red bell pepper and creme de cassis aromatics are at play. This has a silky mouthfeel and wonderful terroir alongside dark fruits. Flavors of black cherry cough syrup, licorice, creme de cassis, mocha and mint persist. Light tannins connect with a long, mineral and black fruit driven finish. This excellent Cabernet wine will cellar beautifully for a decade or more. Drink 2017-2030- 91
2013 Vine Cliff ’16 Rows’ Cabernet Sauvignon- This excellent wine is sourced from the best blocks at their estate vineyard in Oakville. Showing off a slightly darker hue than their regular Cabernet bottling, the 2013 ’16 Rows’ starts with a bouquet of mocha, mint, Turkish coffee and black olive with black cherry pie. Silky tannins and a dense mouthfeel showcase this great Cabernet wine. Flavors of Chinese black tea, black olive tapenade and black cherry with cassis accents are deep and penetrating. Despite its obvious weight, this wine has a gorgeous Bordelaise feel. Be sure to give this at least a two hour decant if enjoying young. This decadent Cabernet wine will drink beautifully for two decades. Drink 2018-2037- 94