Joseph Phelps Vineyards Begins 40th Napa Valley Harvest

Iconic Napa Valley Winery Kicks-Off Milestone 2012 Crush

ST. HELENA, Calif., Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Joseph Phelps Vineyards picked 13.76 tons of Sauvignon Blanc at its St. Helena Home Ranch Vineyard this morning, signaling the start of the famous winery's 40th Napa Valley harvest. The Phelps vineyard team picked one of the three Sauvignon Blanc blocks at the St. Helena estate as the sun made its way above the eastern Napa Valley hills. The first truck of fruit arrived at the winery's original crush pad at 9:30 a.m. for a blessing of the grapes led by Joseph Phelps President, Bill Phelps. "I am honored to carry on this tradition that began with my father and our dedicated team in 1973," said Phelps. A sparkling wine toast attended by Joseph Phelps staff and select Phelps family members concluded the festive occasion. 


Director of Winemaking, Damian Parker, a thirty-one year veteran at Joseph Phelps Vineyards had this historical perspective: "Every harvest is different, yet when a milestone year comes up like this one, it reconfirms in my mind the commitment by the Phelps family to making great wine. Someone asked me what were my most memorable harvests, and really, they all are. Every year brings something new and exciting, whether it's a new challenge in the vineyard, the weather not cooperating, or a new piece of equipment to master. It all becomes part of the history, the legacy we have been entrusted to carry on. I'm honored to be a part of this team each day."

"I was working at Phelps when we celebrated our 30th harvest and now here we are at our 40th! Harvest is such an exciting time for a winemaker and this year is no exception," commented Winemaker, Ashley Hepworth. "The 2012 growing season has been fantastic. The crop is balanced and the vines are about two weeks ahead of schedule, compared to the last two vintages. I can't wait to work with the 2012 fruit."

Joe Phelps purchased a 600 acre former cattle ranch from Pat Connolly in March 1973 and quickly began vineyard planting and winery construction with founding winemaker Walter Schug. Grape contracts for Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Johannisburg Riesling were secured for that first 1973 harvest. The Pinot Noir was custom crushed at the Heitz Winery, also on Taplin Road. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling were crushed at the Souverain Winery (now Rutherford Hill), coincidentally the same winery construction project that first brought Joe Phelps and his family's  firm, Hensel Phelps Construction Company, to Napa Valley in the late 1960's. The Joseph Phelps winery facility would not be completed until the 1974 harvest, a year that yielded the grapes for the winery's landmark first Syrah bottling and the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that would eventually become the first Insignia blend.

Throughout its 40th harvest season, Joseph Phelps Vineyards will chronicle picking and winemaking activity on its website, the Napa Valley Vintners' UNFILTERED blog and various social media websites. 

In 2013, the winery will commence a year-long 40th Anniversary celebration to include Insignia retrospective tastings and special events for their Phelps Preferred wine club members. Further details will be released by Joseph Phelps Vineyards at a later date.

About Joseph Phelps Vineyards

Joseph Phelps Vineyards is a family-owned winery committed to crafting world class, estate-grown wines.  Founded in 1973 when Joe Phelps purchased a former cattle ranch near St. Helena in the Napa Valley, the winery now controls and farms nearly 375 acres of vines on eight estate vineyards in St. Helena, the Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford, Oak Knoll District, Carneros and South Napa Valley. In 1999, the Phelps family added 100 acres of vineyard property near the town of Freestone on the Sonoma Coast, where Phelps now grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Phelps is best known for its flagship Napa Valley blend of red Bordeaux varietals, Insignia, first produced in 1974.  Awarded Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" in 2005, Insignia is widely regarded as a qualitative benchmark for California winemaking.

Media Contact: Mitzi Inglis Joseph Phelps Vineyards, 707-967-3746,

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SOURCE Joseph Phelps Vineyards



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