While Napa Valley is relatively compact, the region’s uniquely diverse conditions support the incomparable production of a wide range of grape varieties. Blessed with multiple microclimates, varying soil types, notable elevation changes, Napa vineyards represent a unique terroir.
The Stewart Ranch Vineyard is managed by Doug Hill and provides some of the raw material for the prestigious Hill Family Estate Winery.
Stewart Ranch Vineyard is one of Napa Valley’s most distinctive and unique sites. Located in the flat, low-lying wetland area of southern Napa Valley, a wildlife refuge surrounds the vineyard near the edge of the Napa River.
The windy evenings, combined with the saltwater carried by the river from nearby San Pablo Bay and the native marine settlement and clay loam soils, create unique notes and flavors in the final product.
Taking a Chance
In 1997, Doug Hill chose Stewart Ranch in East Carneros because the site was mostly level and nearly rock-free. The area had already begun to develop a reputation for excellent Pinot Noirs, so Doug decided to take a chance. If the harvests turned out sketchy, he knew the grapes could still be used for some alternative wines.
Even today, while the vineyard is somewhat patchy and sparse in spots, the site produces excellent acidity and perfectly balanced wines.
While Stewart Ranch vineyard differs in many respects from the more typical Napa vineyards, the experts at Hill Family Estate have found that the grapes grown here will produce stunning varieties. These wines include the excellent Stewart Ranch Pinot Noir, as well as some beautiful Albariños, Sauvignon Musques, and Merlots.
Tasting Notes: 2016 Stewart Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir
The 2016 vintage of the Stewart Ranch Pinot Noir by Hill Family Estate Winery is an excellent example of the quality of the production from this vineyard. The grapes were picked on August 24, 2016. After pressing and special winemaking processes, the new wine spent 11 months in the barrel to evolve its spicy cherry and dark rose notes further.
Affordable and highly drinkable, this Pinot Noir combines the aromas of pie cherries almond and anise with the flavors of clove, plum, and bing cherry on the palate. The beautiful deep color combines with fine-grained tannins and a rich and juicy mid-palate impact.
Endearing Qualities of Stewart Ranch Vineyard
Award-winning Hill Family Estate Winemaker, Alison Doran, loves visiting the Stewart Ranch Vineyard amid the incredible avian wildlife that includes herons, red-winged blackbirds, hawks, and an occasional eagle soaring above.
Off the beaten path, the approach to the Napa vineyard is brightened by an abundance of chicory flowers that accent the landscape during the summer months.
While the bird population is delightful to watch, these feathered beauties can sometimes become competition. Workers must pick as soon as the grapes are ready.
Alison’s personal commentary about visiting the Stewart Ranch Vineyard:
“Cool and breezy even on hot days, hope springs eternal as I get out of the car and admire the strength and resilience of grapevines and start the long walk through the rows.”