Vineyard 7 & 8. The winery was built from 2004 through 2008. Founders Launny and Weezie Steffens have traveled extensively in Asia and developed an appreciation for numerology – the numbers that form the name of this winery are considered lucky in many Asian cultures.
Tours and tastings are by appointment and are for serious wine enthusiasts. The winery sits in a fantastic location almost on top of the Spring Mountain ridge at an elevation of slightly above 2000 feet. When you rise above 2000 feet in Napa county you are among a select group of mountain side vineyards as vineyard elevations such as this are not that common. The Steffen family purchased the vineyards in 1999 and kept some of the original plantings from 1985 as well as planted additional vineyards. Their focus is entirely on two varietals representative of their Spring Mountain terroir; Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon both of which are planted on the property.
Chardonnay is not a varietal that first comes to mind when discussing hillside vineyards in Napa but Spring Mountain has several growers of this varietal. Merely a few miles as the crow flies across from their winery sits the Howell Mountain Appellation. You would not even think of growing Chardonnay there, despite the relatively close proximity as that area is much warmer than Spring Mountain which sees more cooling coastal influences. A bit of snow often falls here in the winter and in the summer this area is typically above the fog. Growing conditions are unique in that in the summer the warmest parts of the day are usually in the mornings, becoming much cooler by late afternoon and then warming up a bit at night as the cooler air descends to the valley floor.
The winery sits a short ways in on the Spring Mountain “summit winery road” and affords one fantastic views of Mt. St. Helena and the neighboring mountains. The entrance to the winery is built to resemble a home and you would not guess the size and functionality incorporated into the building until you go downstairs or see it from the backside. A massive 700 pound copper door greets you at the entrance and once inside you step into a room with a 180 degree windowed view of the surrounding mountains. On a clear day from this room, the views are jaw dropping.
The main room contains a sizable table made from wood dated at over 40,000 years old. It is Kauri wood from New Zealand and is considered some of the oldest workable wood in the world.
During the first few releases they sold entirely wholesale but now they also sell direct to consumers. Launny and Weezie’s son Wesley is General Manager and the Assistant Winemaker – some of his prior experience in the business came as a cellar master at the well-known Harlan Estate Winery. Another Harlan Estate connection is their winemaker, Martha McClellan who has an impressive resume in the valley with time spent working with properties such as Blankiet Estate, SLOAN Estate and Checkerboard Vineyards.
Ever since the Steffen Family purchased the vineyards, great attention to detail has been placed on the details and nuances of managing their vines. Specific rows are picked only when they are ready meaning certain blocks of the vineyard are picked at multiple times to ensure only ripe fruit is used. A number of small tanks ensures that they have enough room to micro manage fermentations block by block.
A kitchen is located on site and private food and wine pairings are offered. Total production is quite limited at about 1800 cases, some of which is distributed in the far east including China (the number 8 is considered lucky in some Asian cultures!)
Their 2004 Chardonnay is a very nice representation of what you can do with Spring Mountain grown fruit. Its an elegant wine with a nice nuance of lemon, pineapple and some toasted nut flavors.
The other wine produced is Cabernet Sauvignon. We tried the 2004 vintage; it reveals an intriguing bouquet showing notes of mocha and various ripe berry fruit (raspberry and blackberry). The palate is nicely balanced and the tannins integrate very well on the very smooth and long finish.
Note: a newer label is Correlation Wine, founded by Wesley with a focus on non estate wines – wines sourced from select vineyards throughout Napa based on relationships that Wesley has made with various growers, winemakers and vineyard owners. The inaugural releases of Correlation includes a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and a
2016 Rosé Wine
For more information and to join their mailing list, visit: www.vineyard7and8.com
NOTE: this review has been identified as needing a major update.