A Cooperative Spirit Shines at Vine Hill Ranch

The Oakville vineyard yields elite Cabernet Sauvignons from Bond, Keplinger, Tor, Arrow & Branch and its own estate label, VHR

A Cooperative Spirit Shines at Vine Hill Ranch
Vine Hill Ranch vineyard in Napa's Oakville AVA neighbors Harlan Estate and Ulysses. (Courtesy of Vine Hill Ranch)
Jul 8, 2022

“2018, I’ll take that every year,” says Vine Hill Ranch vineyard manager Mike Wolf. “It’s always one thing or another. Too much canopy, short shoots, whatever. But in 2018 it really was a perfect growing season. At Vine Hill Ranch we wound up being 30 percent over our historical average in terms of yield. But with the mild autumn we had time to pick. If we didn’t have that I’m not sure where people would’ve put all the fruit. But even with all the fruit, there wasn’t any pressure to get it picked.”

I have a feeling that any winemakers looking for fruit in 2018 would’ve found tank space for grapes from Vine Hill Ranch, even if there had been a compressed harvest window. Once primarily planted to Chardonnay, Vine Hill now supplies Cabernet to an elite roster of Napa wineries, thanks to a late 1980s replanting by Bruce Phillips (with an assist from Tony Soter). Add in an ideal season such as 2018 and “high-water mark” winemaking, according to Phillips, and it’s a recipe for benchmark wines.

Member-Only Content

Premium Subscription

Join today and get immediate access to this article, and to our entire database of more than 400,000 wine ratings. It only takes moments—but it will help you drink better all year long.

Start Free 30-day Trial

Already a member? Sign In

Try Winespectator.com Free for 30 Days!

Full access to our database of more than 400,000 wine ratings

Early access to reviews on our editors' favorite just-rated wines

Wine and food pairing tool,
chefs' pairing recommendations

Best value wines and winery intel

Subscribe today

You Might Also Like

Know When to Hold 'Em: Togni's Long-Lived Napa Cabernets Reward Patience

Know When to Hold 'Em: Togni's Long-Lived Napa Cabernets Reward Patience

Philip Togni and his daughter Lisa have created one of Napa's most distinct Cabernets. A …

Oct 13, 2022
Calera's California Pinot Noir Legacy Stays Strong

Calera's California Pinot Noir Legacy Stays Strong

Josh Jensen protégé Mike Waller keeps the founder's spirit alive at this pioneering Central …

Oct 6, 2022
Old School Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir Shines at Foxen

Old School Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir Shines at Foxen

Santa Barbara County wine pioneer Bill Wathen and homegrown winemaker David Whitehair are …

Sep 28, 2022
Wines Outside the Lines at Domaine de la Côte

Wines Outside the Lines at Domaine de la Côte

In California's Sta. Rita Hills, Sashi Moorman and Raj Parr pushed the limits of where …

Sep 23, 2022
You Are What You Make: Greg Brewer's Energetic Pinot Noirs

You Are What You Make: Greg Brewer's Energetic Pinot Noirs

In Santa Barbara County, Brewer-Clifton's founding winemaker has a distinct lineup of …

Sep 13, 2022
Vertical in the Heights: Lokoya's Spring Mountain Cabernets

Vertical in the Heights: Lokoya's Spring Mountain Cabernets

Winemaker Chris Carpenter shares 4 vintages of Lokoya's Spring Mountain bottling, back to …

Aug 26, 2022