Hoopes Vineyard is operated by Spencer Hoopes (who we originally met with) and his daughter Lindsay. The Hoopes have owned a 10-acre vineyard in the Oakville appellation since 1984. After a law and entrepreneurial career, wine is now Spencer’s full time gig. He was originally introduced to Napa during a visit many years ago, fell in love with the area and purchased property.
He has been a long time collector of fine wine for many years however his original intention was never to get into the wine business; today he owns three different labels – one of which he purchased in 2006. Initially he sold all the fruit from this vineyard to an area winery for a number of years. In 1999 his friend Mitch Cosentino of Cosentino Winery helped him make a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon which was his first commercial release.
While taking their wine extremely seriously, Spencer also has a sense of humor and and you can see this throughout their packaging and how they operate. He loves dogs and has nicely incorporated this and the play on his last name into the light hearted labels. The Cabernet Sauvignon features a dog jumping through a hoop with a nice ceramic medallion attached to the actual bottle – and the Hoopla shows a dog with one of the hoops in its mouth. The Hoopla label focuses entirely on white wines. We started our tasting with the 2006 Hoopla Chardonnay. The fruit for this wine is sourced from Yountville – the wine is not oaked and does go through malolactic fermentation. It is crisp and clean with a rounded but not too soft of a mouth feel. Citrus and minerality notes on the bouquet lead to similar flavors on the palate with nuances of apple and lime.
The 2004 Hoopes Vineyard 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is from Spencer’s own vineyard and is a winner. Spencer is looking to create wines that are soft, and devoid of harsh tannins, even in their youth (but have the acidity to handle cellaring). He has done an excellent job with this vintage. The wine is a bright ruby color and the nose opens up to seductive elegant aromas of red plum and cherry with touches of spice and vanilla. The fruit is throughout the palate but especially so on the finish which is velvety smooth and very long. This wine will pair very well with food. Also note if you are looking for “value” in a higher end Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, this is an excellent choice as it is priced quite decently for the quality.
Spencer purchased the long time Howell Mountain winery Liparita Cellars in 2006. They made several white wines (the last being the Sauvignon Blanc in 2006) and in the future will focus exclusively on appellation specific Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which as of press time includes Yountville, Oakville and the Stag’s Leap district. These wines are all about the specific terroir from which they were sourced from and the label features contours (like on a topographical map) representative of this. The nice feature about Liparita Cellars is the fruit sources are locked up into long term contracts which helps build consistency into the wines each vintage.
You can generally taste their wines at the open to the public by walk-in Napa Wine Co’s Cult Tasting room, located on the corner of Highway 29 and Oakville Cross road near the Oakville Grocery and at the former Hopper Creek Winery (once they begin accepting visitors). Also visit: www.hoopesvineyard.com, www.hooplawine.com, and www.liparita.com
NOTE: This review has been identified as needing a *major* update. Hoopes acquired the old Hopper Creek Winery and accompanying vineyard in September 2017 (location: just south of the town of Yountville off of Highway 29). They plan to offer tastings by appointment. We will wait until the transition in ownership has settled somewhat and will revisit later in 2017 or sometime in 2018. We drive by here all the time so will keep an eye on any visual updates to the exterior of the building and as always, will keep our ears open for the latest news about their plans for this winery.
Trust us, out of the nearly 930 Napa wineries and producers visited with to date, this is one of the rare old school Napa wineries still left in the valley, and we are hoping the winery retains its rustic charm as the Hoopes move in.