Joseph Phelps Facts


  • Inaugural Vintage:
    1974
  • Location:
    St. Helena, CA, USA
  • Grape Varieties:
    Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Viogner
  • Appellations:
    Oak Knoll District, Oakville AVA, Rutherford AVA, Sonoma Coast AVA, Stags Leap District AVA, St. Helena AVA,
  • Important People:
    Ashley Hepworth, Damian Parker, Joseph Phelps, Bill Phelps

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Joseph Phelps Vineyard
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Joseph Phelps Image
In the 1960s, Joseph Phelps, then President of Hensel Phelps Construction Company, won a bid to build what is now the Rutherford Hill Winery outside St. Helena, California. While on the job, Phelps fell in love with the Napa Valley and decided to purchase the 600 acre Connelly Cattle Ranch and begin planting vines. This was the beginning of Joseph Phelps Vineyards.

In the early '70s, having just left the construction business, Joseph Phelps had to assemble an expert team of winemakers to help him with the transition Phelps produced his first vintage of Insignia in 1974. This lush, highly concentrated Bordeaux varietal blend remains the estate's flagship wine. And it's a rarity-- not in quantity, but, rather, in nature: this is a blue-chip Napa Valley collectible of sizable production from blended rather than single vineyard sources. .

Today, Damian Parker is Director of Winemaking. He began his career as a bottling line supervisor and continued up through the ranks until his promotion to Director in 2008. Ashley Hepworth is the head winemaker and works closely with Parker on a daily basis. Phelps wines are 100% estate grown. Grapes are harvested from a variety of locations: Spring Valley Home Ranch near St. Helena, Banca Dorada Vineyard in Rutherford, Las Rocas and Barboza Vineyards in Stags Leap, Suscol Vineyard in South Napa, Yountville Vineyard in Oak Knoll, and Backus Vineyard in Oakville. Beyond Insignia, Phelps is a Napa Valley benchmark for densely fruity, ripe Cabernets that are capable of gaining complexity with bottle aging. Backus is a muscular Cabernet with characteristic dark berry, bitter chocolate and mint flavors. Other estate grown wines include Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.

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About Carneros

Carneros straddles the borders of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys on the north coast of San Pablo Bay. This appellation has thin soils and receives little rainfall. As the sun heats up the vineyards and mountainsides of Napa Valley to the north, the rising hot air draws cool air and fog over Carneros from the ba
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Joseph Phelps Image: © 4Neus. Image licensed under Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0.