Edge Hill is the resurrection by long time industry veteran, Leslie Rudd of one of Napa’s original wineries. Edge Hill’s first vintage was in 1867 (winery built by 1870) which makes this one of the oldest bonded wineries in the Valley. Any winery in Napa that released a vintage in the 1860’s is certainly one of the oldest wineries in the county.
Leslie Rudd has a long history in the wine industry; his parents founded Standard Beverage Corporation in 1949 – this would go on to become the largest wine and spirits wholesaler in the state of Kansas. As a result his involvement in the spirits and wine industry dates from an early age. Today he is owner of Rudd Winery at the eastern edge of the Oakville Cross Road, the Oakville Grocery at the western edge of the Oakville Cross Road, Dean & Deluca and Distillery 209.
True to Edge Hill’s heritage, Rudd decided to plant a number of varietals including Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignane, and just a few vines of Alicante Bouschet. In the “old days” this was a common way of making wine – taking fruit from a vineyard that contains a number of red varietals and calling it your “mixed black”.
We recently had the chance to walk the vineyard with Rudd’s winemaker Patrick Sullivan. The vineyard is true to its history including the wide variety of varietals planted – the vines are all head pruned centered with redwood stakes. This vineyard is nearly 5.5 acres and like the name of the winery sits on the edge of the Mayacamas mountains just east of the town of St. Helena. The vineyard is slightly sloped with well drained loamy soils. The modern day vines were planted in 2000 and until recently were dry farmed, this soil has very good water retention even through the summer.
The vineyard was the home site of Louis Martini for many years and served as a horse pasture up until Leslie Rudd purchased it in the late 1990’s. The site includes an old distillery building as well as the actual 3-story gravity fed winery. This was the first significant gravity fed winery in the Napa Valley and by 1880 it was one of the prominent wineries in the valley. The winery building itself has been retrofitted but is not currently in use as a winery as all Edge Hill wines are made at Rudd Winery. This winery was bonded number 209 – initially Leslie wanted to turn it back into its former use but eventually opened his distillery operations in San Francisco with a tribute to this wineries’ bond number. Distiller 209 The beautiful distillery building was built in 1882.
Edge Hill wines are extremely limited production premium wines with each vintage typically produced under several hundred cases and often under 100 cases. Their first Mixed Blacks vintage was from 2001 with sourced fruit and then entirely with estate fruit starting in 2003 as soon as their vineyards came of age. Their Mixed Black wines to date are crafted most years but not every year. They are made when the quality of the fruit is to their exacting specifications.
The 2005 Vintage Port made under the Edge Hill label is not made every year and is sourced from several vineyards both in Napa and Mendocino County. This wine is a unique blend of 58% Zinfandel, 34% Carignane and 24% Syrah. The big bouquet shows black fruit and baking spices including nice notes of cinnamon. The palate is fruit forward, juicy and very rich. This is rich wine with a super long finish. It will warm you up!
Because of their extremely limited production Edge Hill wines are typically not distributed and are most readily available directly through a visit to Rudd Winery. The Edge Hill property also produces commercial estate olive oil and honey. For more information visit: www.edgehill.com as well as www.ruddwines.com