A former U.S. Ambassador to Austria has big plans for Napa Valley wine.
Kathryn Hall, who served as ambassador from 1997 to 2001, has been growing grapes in Rutherford since 1995, when she and her financier husband, Craig Hall, bought the 19-acre Sacrashe Vineyard. The Halls added another 185 acres of vines this week with their $8.5 million purchase of Rigi Vineyard.
The vineyard, which is located on Silverado Trail south of the Stags Leap District, is planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Syrah. The Halls say they will use many of the grapes -- which have previously gone into the wines of Franciscan Estate, Merryvale and Charles Krug -- for their own wines, though they are still deciding whether they will go into the Kathryn Hall label or a new one. The Halls will replant 40 acres of vines, with more replanting planned for the future.
The 1999 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Sacrashe Vineyard, the Halls' first national release, will arrive on the market in January. The Halls made small lots of Napa Cabernet from the 1996 and 1997 vintages, but those wines were ruined in a warehouse fire in June 2000. Only a small amount of the 1998 vintage was released.
The Halls have also hired Mike Reynolds as their new winemaker and general manager, replacing former consulting winemaker Greg Graham. Reynolds was most recently general manager of Stonestreet, a Jackson Family Farms winery in Sonoma's Alexander Valley. Prior to that, he was winemaker for Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga from 1994 to 2000.
Sacrashe Vineyard was originally planted in 1981 and was replanted by the Halls this summer. It previously supplied grapes for Duckhorn Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars and Cakebread Cellars.