Long Meadow Ranch Winery or LMR for short, is nestled in Napa’s western Mayacamas mountains – a relatively short drive from the floor of the Napa Valley yet with a feel to the property that seems worlds away from the often congested Highway 29. The property was acquired Ted and Laddie Hall in 1989 (no relation to Napa’s Hall Winery) in 1989. The namesake comes from a long meadow on site. Ted has been passionate about wine for a long time, having produced home wine for 17 consecutive years starting in graduate school while attending Stanford. In a prior career, he was an executive for McKinsey, spending nearly 30 years with them, in part helping to expand their global reach. Later he was Chairman of Robert Mondavi Winery and was involved in the sale of Mondavi Winery to Constellation.
Long Meadow Ranch is a family owned and operated winery; Ted and Laddie’s son Christopher is also actively involved and serves as their Chief Operating Officer. Long Meadow Ranch is an extremely diversified winery; besides their wines, they are well known for cattle, poultry, horses, olive oil, fresh produce & a variety of tours and tastings. And the Halls are a family with a sizable vision – always planning their next moves in the valley and beyond and continuing to expand their products and business – centered around food, wine and hospitality.
Today they own approximately 2,000 acres spread between three properties in the Napa Valley (St. Helena including a tasting room, gardens and Farmstead Restaurant, Rutherford Estate, and the 650-acre Mayacamas Estate), a ranch on site of an old dairy farm in Marin County home of their beef producing cattle (they hold a cattle auction each May) and vineyards to the north in Mendocino County where they also operate a tasting room.
There is no signage to their Mayacamas Estate Winery either on Highway 29 or on Whitehall Lane. In fact along the way there are actually several signs that highly discourage visitors, such as “no trespassing”, “do not enter”, “private road” etc. Those who make an appointment for a tasting here, rather then driving to the winery will meet at the Long Meadow Ranch hospitality center next Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena. Guests will then be driven up to the winery by your host – this drive is only about 10-12 minutes. During the drive your host will offer insights into the Hall family, their history in the Napa Valley and highlight a number of their business ventures.
The primary winery building is mostly constructed of clay taken from the property mixed with approximately 2% concrete. This rammed earth construction features extremely thick walls which effectively moderates the temperature year round. This building was designed by William Turnbull who also designed Napa’s Cakebread Cellars. It was built in 1995 and at the time was one of the largest rammed earth buildings in the state of California. We are only aware of several other rammed earth buildings associated with vintners in the Napa Valley – including Wing Canyon (which unfortunately was destroyed in the 2017 fires) and the home on site of Dyer Vineyard on Diamond Mountain.
Long Meadow Ranch used to offer a tour of the estate in an open-air 4whd Pinzgauer vehicle – today visits to the winery include a tasting, a visit to their small olive mill and a quick tour of the cave. This 650 acre property was first deeded to EJ Church, a Civil War veteran by Ulysses S Grant. Church settled this land in 1872 and the Hall’s flagship wine, the Cabernet Sauvignon E.J. Church is created in homage to him. Today the property is home to a number of long haired cattle, a building which has served for many TV photo shoots, hillside vineyards and an olive orchard.
All their vineyards are certified organic as are their other crops. Only approximately 16 acres of vines are planted on the property including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and the Italian varietal, Sangiovese. While the valley floor is planted to a mono culture crop, Long Meadow Ranch has always embraced a holistic farming philosophy in which multiple crops contribute to the health of the entire farm. They also recycle anything organic that is created or produced on the property.
After the Halls purchased their Mayacamas estate property they discovered an old olive grove containing approximately 350 olive trees which had been nearly taken over by the surrounding natural vegetation. They spent several years restoring this old grove – sent budwood to UC Davis for identification – but ultimately there was no record of these particular types of trees. As a result, the Halls came up with their own proprietary name – Pratu Lungo which translates in Italian to Long Meadow Ranch. Later they planted a number of known Italian and Spanish varietals and today farm about 15 acres of olives.
Long Meadow Ranch is one of only two wineries in Napa Valley to own their own olive mill and production facilities (the other being Round Pond). The olive mill was made in Italy and features two large Italian granite stones, each of which weighs 2 tons – both sitting on a sizable 4-ton stone block. Visits to the property will include a quick tour of the mill followed by shots of olive oil – using special olive oil tasting glasses.
Long Meadow Ranch’s wines tend to be very food friendly in their presentation – showing excellent acidity while being approachable young. The wines we have enjoyed during a number of visits over the years to both their St. Helena and Mayacamas properties are generally lighter to medium in body. Their wines are produced in small-lot productions – typically between 80 and 500 cases. A number of these wines are only available for tasting through visits to the winery. And unlike most area wineries, Long Meadow Ranch holds back older vintages and offers library wines for sale (we have seen vintages up to 14 years old for sale).
The Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford Estate 2015 was fermented in stainless steel drums (barrels). Shows straw colored yellow in the glass with mineral notes on the bouquet (graphite). Clean, balanced and rounded with good acidity, shows flavors of lemon and lime.
Sangiovese is one of Ted Halls favorite varietals – so it is planted alongside their Bordeaux red varietals on the property. The Sangiovese Mayacamas Estate 2014 offers crushed black pepper and other darker spices framed by mostly red fruit aromas including red cherry. As it continues to breath, reveals hints of mocha. Has excellent acidity – mostly red fruit including cranberry. Mouth watering. Well-integrated tannins linger smoothly for some time.
The Cabernet Franc Mayacamas Estate 2014 shows herbal notes on the bouquet, juniper, a smokiness, darker spices including cloves and a 5-star spice along with hints of anise and dried rose petal. Opens to show mostly fruit and less secondary spice characteristics after this wine has had time to breath. Regardless, there is plenty of aromatic depth on the bouquet. Light to medium bodied in structure, features excellent acidity and a smooth clean finish.
The Cabernet Sauvignon, E.J. Church 2014. This wine is a barrel selection – choosing only the best barrels of wine that their wine making team determines as being of exceptional quality. Shows noticeably dark in the glass – a ruby red almost purplish color. The bouquet reveals a variety of aromatics including blackberry, darker spices and nuances of cedar and anise. We were immediately attracted to the wine’s texture – it is balanced with a lovely suppleness across the palate. Shows flavor of blackberry and blueberry with just a hint of tobacco leaf. Lingers with fairly fine-grained tannins and hints of mocha.
An unusual wine is their Pinot Noir Blanc made from their Anderson Valley property (this wine sees no skin contact during fermentation, therefore as a result does not show any color). One would be very hard pressed to determine this wine is made from Pinot Noir if you did not already know.
Long Meadow Ranch has also donated over 380 acres of land as conservation easements to the Napa Land Trust meaning these acres will never be developed and will remain in their natural state. A map of all the land within the Napa Land Trust hangs on one of the winery walls.
Long Meadow Ranch, St. Helena Property
is located along Highway 29 in the southern part of St. Helena next to the former location of Whiting Nursery. This location includes the Farmstead Restaurant featuring dishes prepared with locally grown ingredients (on the property), a wine and olive oil tasting room, a small cafe with limited outdoor seating (great place to to relax outdoors weather permitting) and gardens with a variety of produce sold at their seasonal outdoor farmer’s marketplace (located next to the gardens).
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch is one of the central features on the property and is located within a contemporary ‘barn’ with indoor and outdoor seating. And because this property is located within the city limits of St. Helena (rather then in the county limits), they have a coveted permit to hold weddings on site. Their parking lot is somewhat limited and often quickly fills up – visitors then need to find parking curbside along the adjacent Charter Oak Ave.
Long Meadow Ranch, Rutherford Estate
is located next to Highway 29 in Rutherford – about a 4 mile drive south of their St. Helena tasting room. In addition to wine they are known for their grass-fed beef, poultry and fresh heirloom produce. No, Napa valley is not entirely planted to wine grapes! This property supplies fruit and seasonally organically grown vegetables to the farm stand located on site. A number of top local restaurants also source from their gardens including Auberge du Soleil and La Toque.
This land has been producing fruit and vegetables since the 1930’s and surprisingly, historically was never been planted to wine grapes, especially considering the property is literally surrounded by vineyards. Home grown produce is available for sale from Wednesday through Saturday – check for the latest hours.
The property is also planted to 74 acre of vines including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Some 500 chickens provide plenty of eggs which the family refers to as the “poultry palace”. A number of bee hives are also on the property.
And continuing to expand, construction began on a new ‘green’ winery at their Rutherford property in mid 2018. Plans call for its completion by harvest 2019 – although the completion date may be extended. We will visit the new winery once it has been completed and add a separate review to this website at that time.
For more information, to schedule an appointment or to join one of their wine clubs (membership provides cool perks including access to member only events, member only accessible wines and a stay at the Chef’s Cabin on the property. Visit: www.longmeadowranch.com
Rutherford Estate & Gardens
Anderson Valley Tasting Room
If its Napa, we are so there! We will make the drive up to visit this tasting room. Please check back for photos – we are scheduling our visit no later then mid August 2018.