Bob Foley, winemaker at Pride Mountain Vineyard in Napa Valley, will release the first wine under his new label this fall, and you might call it "the pick of Pride."
That's because the owners of Pride Mountain, Jim and Carolyn Pride, made Foley an offer he couldn't refuse. The Prides are giving Foley the first crack at their Spring Mountain grapes for the Robert Foley Napa Valley Claret, which is 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, with some Merlot -- distinguishing it from the Pride Reserve Claret, which is mostly Merlot.
Foley's first release, from the 1998 vintage, is dark and quite rich, with black cherry and blackberry fruit shaded by toasty oak, earning it an outstanding rating of 90 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale. The wine will sell for $95 a bottle; 300 cases were produced.
Foley, 46, has been making Pride's wines since 1993. He has enjoyed tremendous critical acclaim for the whole lineup, particularly the red wines. Pride's Cabernet, Cabernet Reserve, Reserve Claret (which is 66 percent Merlot), Merlot and Cabernet Franc have consistently earned outstanding ratings at Wine Spectator. And the house style -- featuring dark, ripe, rich, polished fruit flavors with smoky oak aromatics -- certainly hasn't gone unnoticed by other vintners.
But Foley and his wife, Diana, also wanted to try something new -- making and selling their own wine from their property on the Pope Valley side of Howell Mountain, northeast of Napa Valley. "It's always been my dream to have a little vineyard and winery," said Foley.
So when Foley talked with the Prides last summer about his future, they made it easy for him to continue making Pride's wines while working on his brand. As the Prides have been adding to and replanting their vineyards, Foley said, "There's plenty of grapes to make both Foley and the Pride Reserve, and we're still going to have room to improve the quality of the regular Pride wines."
Meanwhile, Foley and his wife -- who managed Pride's business operations from its founding, in 1991, until late last year, when she left to manage Robert Foley Vineyards -- are clearing their 6-acre site. They hope to plant it next spring, and in four of five years, they will begin adding those grapes into the Foley Claret blend.