Taylor Family Vineyards has grown grapes in the Napa Valley since 1980. Their property is located in the Stags Leap district on the slopes on the west side of Silverado Trail. Taylor Family is very much a small family business – patriarch Jerry Taylor (now deceased) like others who have come to the Napa Valley had a career before vineyards. He was an engineer on several prominent San Francisco Bay area projects including the San Mateo Bridge and the Transamerica Building. Construction projects were an end to a means, in this case to farming which was one of his passions. His wife Pat was a real estate agent in the Napa Valley until retiring in 2011 but is still very much involved with their wine business.
The family tends to the property themselves – from any planting decisions to the harvesting to the wine making. Jerry moved to Napa County in 1933 and he and his family have owned this property since 1976. Their piece of Stag’s Leap is beautiful – surrounded by a number of knolls and the rugged Vaca Mountains directly to the east of their property, and not a lot of vines visible, one doesn’t feel like they are in Napa Valley, but rather in a more natural setting.
Today all of Pat’s children are involved with the vineyards and winery in some aspect or another and even some of the grandchildren help out. Their daughter Sandy is currently running the winery operations and her husband Phil is director of production and can often be found working in their shared production facility south of the city of Napa. Sandy’s brother Mike is in charge of their vineyard operations.
Phil is a Naval Academy graduate and a commercial airline pilot – his ‘touch’ shows on most every bottle. The vintage air craft that is depicted on their label is a tribute to his appreciation of the aviation industry.
The Taylors originally sold all their grapes to other wineries including their neighbor Silverado Vineyards as well as Robert Mondavi Winery until 2002 which is when they released their first vintage. Only a handful of private small Napa wineries that we have met with employ two winemakers to focus on reds and whites. Taylor Family uses a separate winemaker for their Chardonnays and for their Cabernet Sauvignon. Veteran Napa winemaker Gustavo Brambila has made their
They produce two delicious but dramatically different chardonnays. Our favorite is their Hillside Chardonnay. We tried the 2003 vintage which is a very full-bodied Chardonnay with nice fruit driven aromas including apple, citrus and some tropical characteristics. The ample weight on the palate is carried by layers of fruits which carry over from the bouquet.
Their total wine production is about 1700 cases; this is boutique Napa Valley at its best. With vineyards in the heart of Stags Leap District it is not surprising that they focus on Cabernet Sauvignon. They make several delicious ones especially their Reserve. The fruit for this special wine comes from an upper part of their vineyard which is steep and terraced. The grapes are small producing concentrated flavors. Dark fruit dominates this wine (we tried the 2002 vintage) with black cherry and black licorice along with some smokiness and dusty characteristics towards the finish. Subtle notes of vanilla are also present, imparted from the new French Oak during barrel aging.
Their Cabernet Sauvignons are rich, soft in tannins and ready to drink now, yet have the bright acidity and structure to ensure that they could also be aged for a number of years. In addtional to their own estate wines, they also source fruit from select locations in the Napa Valley including St. Helena, Diamond Mountain, and Yountville.
Their 2105 Sauvignon blanc was sourced from nearby Yountville. It shows tropical aromas interwoven with notes of citrus – somewhat floral including citrus blossom. Balanced on the palate it shows notes of pear. Crisp on the finish but not overly so. Has a pleasing texture on the palate.
The 2014 Chardonnay was sourced from the Oak Knoll District. Shows tropical aromas including honeysuckle with aromas of apricot also present. There is a toasted hazelnut quality on the palate, stone fruit and clove. Has some weight but is not overly viscous. Smooth on the palate.
The 2012 Estate Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon is a 100% varietal. It immediately shows pretty aromas in the glass with both sweeter spice and sweet fruit aromatics. A dry dust nuance is more subtle. Very well balanced on the palate between fruit, acidity and structure. Well defined tannins but not harsh. Hints of cocoa power on the finish.
A wine that is a tribute to their family heritage is simply labeled V VI VII in honor of the 5th, 6th and 7th generations of Taylors. The label is noteworthy as well, it is pewter and every one is hand applied to the bottles.
CUMULUS is their flagship wine – a multi appellation blend of Cabernet Sauvignon. Very limited production and features some of the best lots of Cabernet Sauvignon from their own estate as well as select vineyards in several other appellations.
Their wines are currently made in a shared production facility just south of the city of Napa. Plans call for building a small winery on their own property. We will revisit once their new winery has been completed. Their wine is most distributed direct to consumer via their wine club although locally they have one of their wines at Auberge du Soleil (the elegant resort in the hills east of St. Helena).
For more information and or to join their mailing list or wine club, please visit: www.taylorfamilyvineyards.com
Tastoria.com Taylor Family Video: