News & Press
News & Press
St. Helena Home Ranch
Learn about the St. Helena Home Ranch, our first vineyard.
“Not a grape on the property. Lots of nice-looking cattle.”
This is how our founder Joe Phelps remembered his first encounter with what would become the home of Joseph Phelps Vineyards.
Joe developed a passion for wine over the years and had been looking for somewhere to make “a little wine”. Joe acquired the 600-acre cattle ranch on March 1st 1973 and got straight to work turning a working farm into a viticultural haven.
With a blank slate, winemaker Walter Schug and Joe's pioneering spirit, they planted just about anything, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Gewurztraminer. This blank slate quickly turned into a melting pot for innovation and a beautiful vineyard. This is after all the birthplace of Insignia, California’s very first proprietary red Bordeaux-style blend, it was also the site where we experimented with Rhône-style wines in the early ’70s.
Today, we grow predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon in St. Helena across 130 acres that are used to create wines like Insignia and our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. You might be thinking, what is the rest of the vineyard land used for? Well, in 1999 Joe donated a conservation easement of most of our Home Ranch to the Land Trust of Napa County. Meaning that hundreds of acres will forever be preserved as open space, protecting wildlife and local ecosystems.
Our winery was designed by John Marsh Davis and built by Joe’s firm Hensel Phelps Construction Company. The winery is built around a repurposed 120-foot redwood trellis. Joe came across the huge pile of disused wood from a bridge replacement project in Annapolis, on the western Sonoma Coast. The local transportation department was happy that someone took the wood off their hands!
Located on top of a hill overlooking the Napa Valley, our St. Helena Ranch is the place where it all began. Expect panoramic views from the terrace with gentle breezes - we are protected by the western hills. Here you find soils with bale clay loam - perfect for growing Cabernet Sauvignon - the main grape variety grown here. We also have olive orchards and fruit trees throughout.
The Home Ranch underwent an extensive redevelopment covering everything from our terrace and wine library, to a new kitchen and dining room to support our growing educational wine and food offerings. Joe loved good food and family meals. Here you can join us for educational wine tasting experiences, and enjoy exceptional wine and food pairings as part of our Bountiful Table offer created by our Culinary Team.
Plan your next visit with us at our St. Helena Home Ranch, Napa Valley.