Chappellet Winery is located on the slopes of Pritchard Hill, which is Napa's best known terroir to not yet be designated with its own sub appellation. Are neighbors include two of Napa's generally recognized seven cult wineries, Bryant Family and Colgin Estate. This is actually one of the older family owned wineries in Napa Valley. During the early part of our project, their name came up in conversation more than a few times during our visits to other Napa wineries. Chappellet was the first of the "late 60's and early 70's" generation of wineries to be built in Napa Valley. There was a rather substantial period of time before Chappellet was founded that there were hardly any wineries built in the area.
The winery was founded in 1967 by Donn and Molly Chappellet, a couple from Los Angeles who wanted to raise their family in a rural setting. They raised six children and now several are actively involved in the day to day operations. They moved here before Napa Valley was well-known and either had the foresight or were lucky as their location is now considered prime land for growing Bordeaux varietals. The popularity of this area is clearly evident when you visit; just look at all the winery signs and or vineyards that now surround Chappellet.
The actual winery is at the end of a very small narrow winding road off of the main Sage Canyon Road - when you reserve your tour, have the winery email directions to you as online maps do not show their driveway or exact location. Take a look at their logo - can you guess how it was formed? Do a fly over of the winery (or simply view the provided aerial photo at the winery) and you will see that the winery building is a series of three triangles put together just like their logo. When you walk up to the winery entrance through the local native vegetation the building looks very small. However, once you are in the barrel room you can see how large this winery actually is. It is a testament to the designers that they were able to blend the winery into the natural setting.
The tour and tastings are offered at set times each day by appointment only. A typical tour involves tasting as you walk through the actual winery facilities. Weather permitting, you will also take a quick educational visit to the actual vineyards next to the main winery building. There are many bottles of wine on display in their barrel room (vertical vintages). Note their 1969 Cabernet, it is a very historical wine with only a few left in the world. If you are looking for a great Chenin Blanc this is the winery for you as this wine was their original focus and they continue to produce it today.
We visited during a bottling session; it is amazing to see how fast their wine is bottled, corked and labeled. Chappellet produces world-class wines. A couple of wines we will highlight are their Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon. Along with the majority of their wines, the Merlot is very reasonably priced; it shows great fruit with a super long finish. Their signature wine is the Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. It is what you expect of a high end hand crafted Napa Valley Cabernet; it is very velvety in the mouth, has great fruit with again a nice long finish. Their winemaker has been with them since 1990. That means a lot in this industry where often it seems that winemakers move from winery to winery every few years. Visit: www.chappellet.com