Frank Family Vineyards Shows What Rutherford Has to Offer
When it comes to Napa Valley wine, the differences from one appellation to another are hard to miss. There is the racy acidity that seasons windswept Carneros, the superb concentration pushing up in Howell Mountain, and the powerful energy running through Stags Leap. But perhaps Napa’s best-known terroir is found, unsurprisingly, in the heart of the region: in the Rutherford dust.
Since the 1930s, the Rutherford AVA, on the floor of Napa Valley, has been widely recognized as a source of superlative Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties. The area’s hallmark gravelly loam soils and moderate temperatures deliver fruit- forward wines with outstanding balance and refined elegance.
One wine producer in particular who has become synonymous with this world- class grape-growing district is Frank Family Vineyards, who has nearly three decades of crafting fine Rutherford designated wines under its belt. Frank Family owner and founder, Rich Frank, purchased what would become the winery’s first Rutherford estate vineyard in 1990. Rich fell in love with a great, old Tudor style house that came with an original 10 acres of hillside vineyards among the 107-acre lot. Southwest-facing and known to be one the great vineyards in Rutherford, Rich soon learned what he had and what he could do with it. “When word got out that the hillside property in Rutherford had a new owner, I started to receive numerous phone calls from wineries in the neighborhood inquiring about the availability of my grapes for purchase,” said Rich. “That was the first time I thought to myself that there might be something really special here.”
Rich named the property, “Winston Hill” after his black and white English Springer Spaniel, Winston, who loved running and chasing birds in the vineyard. Since the early 1990s, when Winston Hill was born, the prized hillside estate has expanded in planted acreage, yielding some of Napa Valley’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.
Today, Winston Hill is the origin of five wines in the Frank Family collection, including their highly acclaimed Patriarch Cabernet Sauvignon and their namesake Winston Hill Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux-style blend. The 1998 vintage of Winston Hill was the first among a legacy of extraordinary wine. Each year since, the blend has been slightly different depending on what Mother Nature gives, but always consistent in quality. Though the impeccable fruit first inspired the wine, it was the freedom given to Frank Family’s winemaker, Todd Graff, his ingenuity and discerning taste, that has made the blend an award-winning and always-anticipated wine, every year. “Winston Hill represents the pinnacle of everything we strive to achieve in our winemaking practices, made each year with one goal in mind – to make the best wine that is the best expression of our land,” stated Todd.
Rutherford is renowned for historically producing some of Napa’s most storied wines, and since the early 1990s, Frank Family has captured the essence of this region in their exclusive bottlings. While their vineyard plantings now stretch to almost every quadrant of Napa Valley, nothing compares to Frank Family’s very first property, Winston Hill. It is here in the gently climbing vineyard along the eastern banks of Rutherford that the perfect intersection of sunshine, hillside breezes, and dusty soil crafts the perfect sip that can be savored like a moment in time.
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Article By: Marisa McCann // Photos Courtesy of Frank Family Vineyards