Forthcoming production increases have forced the owners of Vineyard 29 in Napa Valley to find a new winery and winemaker for their Cabernet Sauvignon. The 1998 vintage was the final one produced by highly regarded consultant Heidi Peterson Barrett at the Grace Family Vineyards facility in St. Helena.
The 1999 wines and subsequent vintages are being made at Oakville Ranch Vineyards by Philippe Melka, who worked briefly at Dominus Estate and now consults for Lail Vineyards and Seavey Vineyard.
Vineyard 29 currently produces about 600 cases a year of Cabernet Sauvignon from its 3.5 acres of grapes. An additional 3-acre planting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot will yield more grapes than Grace's small facility could handle.
Barrett currently makes the wines of Grace Family and Barbour Vineyards at the Grace facilities, but scheduling demands would not have allowed her to make Vineyard 29 at a separate address. One of Napa's most respected winemakers, Barrett counts Screaming Eagle, Diamond Creek and Dalla Valle among her past and present clients.
Even though Vineyard 29's new plantings will not be producing grapes in quantity until 2003, co-owners Tom Paine and Theresa Norton didn't want to wait to find another winemaker and a larger facility. "We figure there's soon going to be a real crunch for quality winemakers and space at custom crush facilities," said Paine. "We decided to jump while we could still get both."
Paine and Norton are not yet sure if production from the new site will be released under the Vineyard 29 label or bottled separately. Their current vintage, 1996, was sold primarily to mailing list customers at $75 per bottle.
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