Delgadillo Cellars is owned by the father son team, Ignacio Sr. and Ignacio Jr (‘Iggy’ who we originally met with). Their partnership is ideal as Ignacio Sr. handles all the vineyard management duties as well as winemaking and Ignacio Jr. handles the marking and business side of the operations. Ignacio Sr. first came to the Napa Valley in 1972 from Jalisco Mexico at age 17 and began working in vineyards in Rutherford. He then worked at Freemark Abbey and became their cellar master during the 1980’s when they started developing a stellar reputation for their Cabernet Sauvignon Bosché, one of California’s first vineyard designated wines. Over the years Ignacio developed a palate for older Cabernet Sauvignons but was not able to find a Napa Cabernet that specifically matched his palate.
Often winemakers who have small productions will produce wines they enjoy to drink and then their customer base often has similar tastes. Ignacio loves drinking older wines and decided to create a wine that would be aged before being released to the consumer, a wine that was smooth and elegant upon release.
Delgadillo’s first release is a 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon making this among the oldest current release wines of any producer we have met with through our work with the Napa Wine Project. This wine spent 3 years in oak and then another 5 years in bottle before being released. As a result this wine has significant bottle age giving the consumer who is interested in aged wines an alternative to most wineries’ much newer first releases.
The original vintage came from the Mill Creek Vineyard located between St. Helena and Calistoga; the vines were mostly budded over from the famed Nathan Fay’s Stag’s Leap Vineyard (an integral vineyard for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars). They continue to source from this particular vineyard, but later vintages also include fruit from a vineyard in the Coombsville region much further south and just east of the town of Napa. Their releases each year are always 100% varietal Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ignacio’s expertise is among the vineyards and he carefully manages each vineyard they source fruit from. He has been the winemaker since the first vintage.
The 2001 vintage has achieved the smoothness that Ignacio desires in his wines. Despite the additional aging this wine shows plenty of fruit, almost as if it were a younger wine. It is a higher alcohol wine coming in at just over 15%. The bouquet shows some floral notes as well as hints of graphite and vanilla leading to an entry that is extremely soft and lush (shows plum and red cherry flavors) which carries throughout the palate. The finish is smooth and long and shows velvety tannins.
We also had a chance to try several barrel samples of the blending components used in their 2007 vintage. The vineyard they source from in Coombsville produces extremely concentrated dark black inky fruit and it will be very interesting to see how this wine develops considering that while being such a young wine it already has complex flavors.
Ignacio is also a founder of Wine Country Cases a premiere custom wood box and packaging company for shipping wine bottles. When he was working at Freemark Abbey the market for wooden shipping boxes was geared to larger companies and there wasn’t an option for smaller made to order custom boxes. Seeing a need for this, Ignacio and his partner Dan Pina began hand crafting boxes on a small scale, founding the company in 1988.
The impetus for the founding of the company was because the shipping company they were working with at the time was no longer able to service the shipping needs of small wineries. They began their own business on a small scale – renting a space south of Calistoga where both men would make boxes as time permitted (a side job). They learned their craft one day at a time, refurbishing old machines to fit their needs. Their business has become a success story; eventually they moved out of their small Calistoga space, to a 10,000 square foot space in St. Helena and even outgrew that. Today they operate out of an 80,000 square foot space near the airport just south of the city of Napa. And while they began the business with the idea to serve small winery clients, now they are of a size they can handle orders from much larger wineries.
Today they can brand boxes with winery logos, create gift boxes – they can producer over 50 types of boxes.
Today, more than 20 years since this company was founded they employ a number of people and produce over 50 different styled boxes – mostly for the wine industry but also for the food industry and other retailers. Visit: www.winecountrycases.com for more information.
As expected, their own wines are packed in custom wooden boxes.
Delgadillo’s wine is currently cellared in one of their warehouses on a 12 acre site between Calistoga and St. Helena. They have plantable vineyard land here and have plans to develop a small vineyard which will ultimately produce the fruit for their single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons.
At the time of our last update to this review, one of only ways to acquire their wine is via their mailing list as they have extremely limited retail locations. For a small producer the personal relationships with their customers are extremely important and its no different with Delgadillo Cellars. This is a unique opportunity to taste hand crafted wines from someone who manages the vineyards and makes the wine (somewhat rare in the valley to have the same person doing both) and to have a wine that is truly aged upon release. Their production is so limited and definitely varies depending on the vintage and fruit sources (2002 saw only 92 cases) that their distribution, once in place, will be limited to just a number of high end retailers and restaurants.
As of July 2015 Delgadillo Cellars offers their wines in a tasting room called The Wine Thief that features small production Napa based vintners. This tasting room is located on the corner of 1st and McKinstry Streets directly across from Gott’s Roadside Hamburgers and the Oxbow Public Market. Visits are by walk-in during normal business hours – at the tasting counter, or from one of two automatic dispenser wine stations (by the taste, by the half glass or by the glass). Reservations are required to meet directly with Ignacio Jr where guests then try their current release wines in one of the two private rooms on site.
For more information or to join The Legacy Club, visit: www.dcellars.com
Wine Country Cases