Chimney Rock Winery was established in 1980, following Hack and Stella Wilson’s purchase of a beautiful 180-acre property in the heart of the Stags Leap District. They built a home and a winemaking facility inspired by the architecture of South Africa’s Cape region and planted the first 59 acres with a mix of white and red grapes — a move like that would be unthinkable today given their location in prime Cabernet country, but those were different times!
Soon after, however, Hack and Stella received a blessing in disguise: Phylloxera decimated the vines and dictated that they be replanted. This time they got it right, loading up on 40 acres of Cabernet, 12 of Merlot, four of Cabernet Franc, and three of Petit Verdot. Drainage was also improved and special attention paid to the rootstocks and clonal selections, which were then matched to specific soils and locations on the property.
The Terlato family became business partners with the Wilsons in 2000, and in 2001, following heavy investment, 60 more acres were planted with Cabernet. A total of 119 acres are now under vine, managed in 28 blocks, with farming and harvesting specifically tailored to each individual site. In 2004 the Terlatos purchased the rest of the estate from the Wilsons and are now the sole owners of the property.
The estate is Green Certified by the California Land Stewardship Institute, and 100% solar powered. The team here has used recycled water for vineyard irrigation for over a decade as well as integrated pest management techniques and cover crops planted between vineyard rows to help improve soil health.
Chimney Rock is a great source of solid, well-made, and reasonably priced wines that capture the essence of Stags Leap’s character. The flagship wines are the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Elevage, a Bordeaux style Proprietary Red. There are also several smaller single block bottlings that are available only through the winery’s mailing list. All wines are estate grown.