(Founded 1991) is an interesting winery in that they are spread out all over. Their home vineyards are located in the prestigious Spring Mountain appellation in Napa. Fife is owned by Dennis Fife; his former partner in the winery is the famed author, Karen MacNeil (author of The Wine Bible). In addition, they lease the Redhead Vineyard in the Redwood Valley in northern Mendocino County. Their main production facility is located in Mendocino County on site of the Redhead Vineyard (pretty easy to see why it’s called this as it is situated at elevation and the soil is extremely red). We have visited this tasting room as we have done from San Luis Obispo to Sonora to Mendocino for other similar wineries with outside Napa tasting rooms who have strong connections to Napa.
Fife also makes their Napa wines at a winery in the Napa Valley on Spring Mountain not far from their own vineyards. Their Mendocino County winery and tasting room might be a bit far to travel if you are taking in the Napa scene (80 minutes at least one way) so they are available to taste in not one but two locations in the Napa Valley! You can taste at A Dozen Vintners in the northern part of the Valley and also at the Cult Wine Central at Napa Wine Co in the central part of the Valley. Their Spring Mountain property encompasses 56 acres and is located between 1600 and 1800 feet and is planted to Bordeaux varietals. Their philosophy is finding grapes with “character” based on specific terroir, do minimal handling from fermentation through aging and then blend to best bring out varietal characteristics.
If you do make a visit to their Mendocino location note that the back of the winery is in a stunning location. The first words out of our mouth when we walked through the winery to their picnic are in the back was “this is certainly not Napa”! On a clear warm day, you look right down onto Lake Mendocino. This is a great place for picnicking and or enjoying a bottle of Fife’s wine. We have tried their wines here as well as at several trade tastings. Their prices are extremely reasonable including for the Napa grown and made wines. Ok, tell us what other wineries still have for sale a Spring Mountain Cabernet from 9 to 10 years old for such a steal in price?! Glancing at their price list we also found 8–11-year-old Napa Valley produced Fife Rhone Blends priced extremely well.
We recently tried a vertical of their Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon starting with a 1999 vintage. This wine had aged very well, the tannins had smoothed out and the color and flavors were right there and had not dissipated. The characteristic Spring Mountain ripe juicy blackberry, herbs and notes of cedar were still definitely present in this wine. Other wines we can recommend are their Napa Valley Zinfandel, the 2002 Mendocino Syrah has an underlying note of spicy black pepper, and their 2000 Scarlet is an elegant blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Reserve Merlot is often produced in very finite quantities. Get your hands on this wine if you can! All photos above are from their Mendocino County winery & vineyards.
Website down – looking into if they are still open to the public and or making wine under the Fife label.
NOTE: This review has been archived.
REASON: Stopped producing wine commercially, no longer were located in the Napa Valley