Wolf Family Vineyards was established in 1997 by Jane and Doug Wolf. Doug was a San Francisco financial consultant and investment banker. Winemaker Emeritus Karen Culler (who we originally met with numerous years ago for this review) made wine for many of their vintages. Their original property was located on Inglewood Ave in St. Helena – they sold this historical estate in 2013 (formerly the Jaeger family estate), which became the current home for Sinegal Estate. Today the Wolf’s own nearly 7 acres of vines, located on the east side of Highway 29 (mere minutes from their former estate) on the southern edge of St. Helena – all managed by Oak Knoll Farming (a vineyard management company).
After purchasing their original vineyards, the Wolfs with Karen Culler’s insights replanted the entire vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon and smaller percentages of other varietals. The only varietal that was not removed was the Cabernet Franc; it was originally planted in the 1970’s and these vines produced the fruit for their Cabernet Franc wine for many years. Their first vintage in 1997 was from their original Cabernet Franc vineyard.
Their vineyard at the end of White Lane in St. Helena is planted to approximately 5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon with a 1 acre block of Sauvignon Blanc. Again, Karen Culler was responsible for the vineyard layout, varietal, clone and rootstock selections.
As of our latest update, they focus on two wines, the estate Sauvignon Blanc, and an estate Cabernet Sauvignon blended with some fruit from another vineyard in Calistoga to the north. Wolf Family used to manage a second label called Phaedrus, or in Greek meaning Wolf. We tried their 2006 Sauvignon Blanc which like all their wines, is produced in limited quantities. Compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, there certainly is not a lot of Sauvignon Blanc grown in the St. Helena appellation and their vineyard showcases this varietal well. The focus on the winemaking side of things is to present the varietal characteristics rather than over stylize the wine. Case in point is the minimal use of oak, as the the fermentation is mostly conducted within small stainless steel barrels and then left to age on the lees.
This Wolf Family Vineyard 2006 Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of two clones, Musque and Clone 1. It has a luscious rounded mouth feel with plenty of fruit up front and more of a herbal minty flavor on the mid palate. Great natural acidity and a clean crisp finish make this wine perfect for pairing with a meal. It is always a delight to find a nice Cabernet Franc and Wolf’s 2006 vintage does not disappoint. A small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is blended to provide additional depth and structure on the finish. Their Cabernet Franc vines are vigorous yet older, which as a result produces berries that are quite small resulting in very concentrated flavors. This is a smooth elegant wine with soft delicate tannins that anchor the long finish.
In our opinion, their 100% varietal Cabernet Sauvignon – has excellent aging potential. You can find their wines in local wine shops and they are distributed in select markets in NY, Chicago and California. Their total typical annual production used to run between 1000 and 1500 cases but today they have downsized production to only around several hundred cases annually.
The family used to produce olive oil from the olive trees growing on their former estate.
For more information and or to purchase wine, visit their website: www.wolffamilyvineyards.com
Note: this review has been identified as needing a **major** update.