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The 2022 crush marks the 50th Joseph Phelps Vineyards harvest season. For half a century, Phelps has crushed Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and more, since 1973.
The Joseph Phelps Vineyards inaugural harvest consisted of just three wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Johannisberg Riesling, all custom crushed at nearby wineries. With winery construction completed just prior to the 1974 harvest, the crush was allowed to commence at the winery’s now historic property in St. Helena, Napa Valley.
In 2007, the Joseph Phelps winery in Freestone, CA on the western Sonoma Coast was completed in time for harvest, allowing the Sonoma Coast team to pick and crush on the same property, rather than a continued transportation of fruit to Napa, as was the case during the 2005 and 2006 harvests.
When asked what this 50th harvest means to Napa Valley Winemaker, Ashley Hepworth, her passionate response, “It all comes back to Joe and his desire to make the finest wines each vintage. He hired me to work the 1999 harvest as an intern, and I never looked back. I’m so honored to still work with and learn from so many of the people I first met over twenty years ago. This year’s harvest is all about the past, present, and future. The vintage is looking very strong, and the team and I are excited to craft the wines that our fans will enjoy for many years to come. They will celebrate milestones in their own lives with a bottle of Joseph Phelps. It is so gratified to know that Joe’s vision lives on in every bottle of wine we make each year.”
Equally introspective, Sonoma Coast Winemaker, Justin Ennis noted, “I’ve learned so much as a winemaker from this rugged region. It’s always been a team effort here in Freestone, from our first crush in 2007 when I joined the team. Every harvest is different, but I can remember something special about each one. Knowing that our wines will age gracefully and be enjoyed during special moments makes me very proud. This harvest is about our team. We are one big family working to make the finest wines from these vineyards. I look forward to raising a toast to the new vintage!”
Noted Napa Valley Assistant Winemaker, Kelly Fields, “I’m honored and privileged to be a part of the Joseph Phelps team as we celebrate the 50th harvest milestone. As I enter into my 18th harvest at Phelps, I will continue to take pride in representing Joe, the wines, and the legacy of the winery.”
The Joseph Phelps Napa Valley harvest will begin August 18th with the picking of Sauvignon Blanc at the St. Helena Home Ranch. Staff traditionally gather for a toast to the new vintage that same morning. In Freestone, the team will pick their first Pinot Noir grapes for Ovation Sparkling Wine on August 17th.
An Employee Harvest Celebration just prior to harvest gave Phelps staff a chance to join together for good food and conversation before the busy season begins. The 2022 harvest progress may be followed through the winery’s social media and website journal updates.
Joseph Phelps Vineyards will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2023. Further celebratory details will be released in the New Year. Until then, raise a glass to a safe and successful harvest season!