was founded by Art & Cherie Goulard in 2004 and their small 2.5 acre 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard is located high in the Howell Mountain Appellation at about 2000 feet. It is always a joy to visit some of the higher vineyards in Howell Mountain as the fresh natural aromas from the Manzanita and pine trees at this elevation are very reminiscent of what you would find in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills at similar elevations. We’ve spent long summers in the Sierra foothills and this is the only appellation in Napa with these similar characteristics. Villa Hermosa Cellars means “beautiful house” in Spanish and is named after their gorgeous estate location. Art’s background is as a landscape architect and he has always been interested in the outdoors and growing things. Before they decided to plant their vineyards he took viticulture courses at UC Davis and also at the local Napa Valley college. Since then he has jumped into the vineyard management with a passion, even installing a bedside weather panel which is connected to the weather station in the actual vineyard.
Their vineyard is quite unique; it has three distinct soil types within the small acreage, a tufa, a rocky section and a very clay like block. In addition, the vineyard is entirely south facing for optimum exposure and sunlight and sits in an area where nice breezes flow through the vineyards. As a result, mildew and other molds that might cause problems are kept to a minimum. Art is the vineyard manager; he keeps the watering to a minimum. He compares this to how vineyards are managed in Bordeaux France where you can water for 3 years to get the vines established and then they are dry farmed after that. The terroir, minimal watering, dropping of fruit, clonal choice and long hang time ensures they have fruit that is rich and concentrated. They produce the one vintage each year, entirely estate grown and 100% varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. As a result of their small vineyard and the fact that they do drop fruit, their typical production runs merely approximately 300 cases a year. A variety of French coopers are used for the aging; all who produce tightly grained barrels including one cooper in which the trees have to be at least 150 years old before the wood is used. This tight grain in the wood allows for very slow integration of flavor into the wine and does not dominate (yes these barrels are more expensive then the typical French Oak barrel!). All new French Oak is used.
Andy Schweiger, their winemaker has been on board since day 1. He works at his own family winery located at a similar elevation in a neighboring mountain appellation. As a result he has lots of experience with mountain grown fruit which is exactly what the Goulards were looking for when they hired him. Their first commercial vintage was in 2004 and right out of the gate it earned a 92 rating from the Wine Spectator. Not a bad way to start with your first vintage! We tried this aforementioned wine. It is unfined and unfiltered for maximum color and flavor. Natural yeasts are used during the fermentation – the winemaker’s philosophy is “let the grapes speak for themselves” and this wine is certainly an excellent example of this. Yes, it is very dark and inky with earthy aromas, think forest floor. As the wine opens up the bouquet evolves into more fruit driven aromas with additional notes of mocha and chocolate. The fruit explodes on the palate – rich and layered, its mouth watering attributes are all from the natural acidity. Flavors of blueberry, blackberry, plum and black current lead to a wonderful long finish! A rounded mouth feel with a smooth velvety touch on the palate makes this wine a delight to drink.
You can find their wine locally at Sunshine Market and Press Restaurant in St. Helena or through their website. They also have a mailing list. A small exclusive private guesthouse is located on site accessible by an automatic gate. Come here when you want a “secret” vineyard getaway and are looking for *absolute privacy*. A hot tub overlooks vineyard land through pine trees and a full kitchen is available in case you want to cook or hire a chef to provide meals. If you want to enjoy a full package – stay here and also request a tour of the property, vineyard and a tasting. For more information about their cottage and to make reservations visit: www.villahermosacellars.com
NOTE: This review has been archived.
REASON: Stopped producing wine commercially
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