Hunter Glenn Estate was founded by 4th generation Napa Valley family, the brother and sister team of Caroline and Jeffrey Shifflett, Jr., and their mother Ellen. A 120 acre property near the town of Yountville has been owned by the family since 1942. Patriarch Wade Sr. and his wife Mimi purchased this land at the end of Darms lane; the property is gorgeous featuring a diversity of terrain – covering both the valley floor and lower foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains up to about 600 feet in elevation.
For decades the property was home to cattle along with peaches, plums, cherries and plenty of hay. Wade Sr’s son Wade Shifflett, a Napa County Judge for many years and his wife Olga decided to plant grapes on the property – the first planting was a Chardonnay in 1981. Over the years, the vineyards have been destroyed by Phylloxera and Pierce’s Disease and a major replanting occurred in the early to mid 1990s and then again in the early 2000s. Today the property is planted to about 45 acres of vines including the five primary Bordeaux red varietals along with Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah with the intent to eventually plant up to 60 acres in total. Chardonnay no longer grows on site. And most of grapes from the estate are sold to premium area producers – past clients who have purchased grapes from the property included Duckhorn, Raymond Vineyards, Neal Family and Blackbird Vineyards and currently William & Mary Wine Company.
And grapes from the property have in part been used for the Shifflett Estate wines. Wade and Olga’s son, Jeffrey Shifflett, Sr., former lawyer turned vintner began Shifflett Estate in 1998 focusing on producing mostly Cabernet Sauvignon wines from both the estate and other parts of the Napa Valley.
Jeffrey Shifflett, Jr. manages the Shifflett Estate and is also the winemaker for Hunter Glenn. He worked a harvest in Australia and also at nearby Elyse Winery. Like her brother, Caroline grew up in the Napa Valley (catch up on her wine travels and adventures at Chardonnay Moi); she is responsible for both their direct to consumer sales and trade accounts. When deciding upon a name for the wine, they decided to use each others middle names (Caroline’s is Hunt and Jeffrey’s is Glenn) opting for Hunter Glenn rather then Hunt Glenn due to its better sounding name.
In addition to using grapes from the Shifflett Estate, Hunter Glenn also sources grapes from the Hunter Glenn Vineyard, 5 acres located in the southern St. Helena City limits. Previously planted entirely to Cabernet Sauvignon, this vineyard is now planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Merlot.
The first vintage of Hunter Glenn was in 2014 – the wine was made at Elyse Winery for several years until an old barn on the Shifflett Estate was converted into a winery – opening just in time for the 2018 harvest. Small but functional, the winery is plenty large enough to accommodate their current approximately 500 case per year production. Ideally, eventually a small cave would be drilled into one of the nearby hillsides.
Chardonnay is their only non Napa wine produced and is sourced from the Starscape Vineyard in the Russian River Valley in neighboring Sonoma County. Ellen’s favorite wine is Chardonnay; her input was critical in crafting this wine. She instructed Jeffrey to make a Chardonnay that is crisp and clean yet round and buttery – certainly a unique challenge as often Chardonnay is made either in a style featuring one or the other of these characteristics – not both. The 2017 Hunter Glenn Russian River Chardonnay offers aromas of citrus blossom, a mineral nuance and an orange peel zest on the bouquet. 50% of this wine was put through malolactic fermentation. On the palate the wine shows a noticeable intensity of flavor from start to finish. Lingers with flavors of citrus, orange peel and mineral notes. The hallmark of this wine is it’s intense flavor without being heavy or creamy. Directions well followed.
The 2016 Hunter Glenn Syrah offers aromas of dark plum, tobacco leaf, licorice and hints of white pepper. Not as meaty or peppery on the bouquet as some Napa Syrahs we have tried – although it does have some savory characteristics in its aromatic approach. Balanced – this is not a heavy Syrah on the palate but certainly shows plenty of fruit including blackberry and boysenberry along with hints of cedar box on the savory finish. Well-integrated tannins.
The 2016 Hunter Glenn Red Wine Blend takes some time to open on the bouquet – the aromas are eventually teased out with time in the glass showing cherry cola and raspberry with a hint of mocha. Some wines are made with a versatility of food pairings in mind; this is one of them. With bright acidity throughout the palate – offers flavors of red cherry, currants and cranberry. Shows a lingering tartness of fruit complemented by a very pleasing texture with fine-grained well integrated tannins anchoring a supple finish.
Caroline’s fiance, Jared Clevenger designed both of the Hunter Glenn wine labels through his St. Helena based design firm, Standards & Greatness. All their wines are limited production; however, the “bookend” label represents their premium specialty wines. In 2014 they produced one wine under this label, a Cabernet Franc.
The 2014 Hunter Glenn Cabernet Franc was entirely sourced from the Shifflett Estate – the wine was aged in 50% new French oak for 18 months. Features a captivating bouquet that one needs to sit with to enjoy all its aromatic nuances as it breathes. Shows plenty of fruit on the nose including blackberry and a raspberry sweetness along with hints of sage, tobacco leaf, a wintergreen nuance and dark chocolate. Reveals more fruit as the wine opens. Nicely balanced and elegant on the palate, the wine offers more red fruit then dark fruit flavors. Lingers with flavors of red cherry – lively and bright, the wine dances across the palate. An excellent food wine – a wine worth seeking out.
The wines are selectively distributed in Ohio and New Mexico and a distributor also carries some of the wines in Japan. For more information or to schedule a private tasting, visit: www.hunterglenn.com