Yates Family Vineyard is located on the slopes of Mt. Veeder, north and west of the town of Napa. This is the southern most vineyard in the Mt. Veeder Appellation. The property has been within the family since 1950 making it one of the older continuously owned vineyard properties in this part of Napa. A ghost winery is on site which dates from the early 1860′s making this one of the first wineries within Napa County. German immigrants first developed the vineyard land in this location. This winery even has a perfectly preserved Roman Press (one of only two that we are aware of still in existence in Napa County – the other being at Nichelini Winery). Their 35 acre vineyard for the past 50+ years has been supplying a number of well-known Napa wineries with fruit for their own wines. As with many vineyard managers and growers they made home wine on the side for friends and family and finally went over to the commercial side in 1999 releasing their first vintage.
As a testament to the vineyards and winemaking, some of their home made Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc from the cellar is tasting great more than 30 years later! More about the actual commercial wine in a moment. This part of Mt. Veeder historically was known as the Napa Redwoods, named after a large grove of redwoods similar to Armstrong Grove in Sonoma County. That is the name this winery took for 7 years (Napa Redwoods Estate), but for branding and marketing purposes, Yates Family was chosen as the new name.
It is truly a family run affair. Today the grandson has returned to the vineyards and is the winemaker and his daughters are also heavily involved in the day-to-day operations. He has a degree in Agriculture, but for many years ran a construction company and is a self taught winemaker with a passion for wine. Production as of press time is merely 800-900 cases. The vineyards are in a spectacular location, with most of the blocks very steeply planted. On a clear day, a drive to the ridge top above the vineyards reveals 3-bridges in the distance; the Golden Gate next to San Francisco, as well as The Richmond and Bay Bridges. Mt. Diablo is also seen way in the distance. Their focus is on rich concentrated wines without the huge tannins. All their wine is made at nearby Hendry Winery located just before you start climbing into the hills. All vintages we tried were 2004, the last year they used the Napa Redwoods Estate label.
They specialize in three wines, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. All their wines are rather dark in color and their Cabernet Franc is no different. We spotlight this because it was our favorite of the three wines. It is a superbly crafted wine. There is lots of fruit on the nose including cherry and the mouth feel is rich, concentrated and smooth followed by an exotic spicy finish, peppers, cloves and more that continue to evolve until the last flavors have run through your mouth. For Mt. Veeder grown fruit, the wines are priced quite reasonably by Napa standards. You can find their wine locally at the St. Helena Wine Merchants in St. Helena. Visit: www.naparedwoodsestate.com
Michael Yates talks about his family winery: