About Robert Foley Vineyards
Robert Foley Vineyards
Bob and Kelly Foley
I first met Bob Foley when he was the winemaker at Markham Vineyards. This was back in the days when Bruce Markham still owned the place, and I was working there as a marketing agent. The wines were monumental — tannic, solid, old school — but Bob was destined for greater things still. After Markham was sold, he took a position at Pride Mountain Vineyards, where he spent 15 years and earned superstar fame. High-profile consulting work at Switchback Ridge, Hourglass, Paloma, School House, and Engel Family only added to his legend.
Never content to sit on his heels, Bob launched his own winery in 1998 with a tiny, 250-case production of Claret. The wine received great critical acclaim (94 points from Robert Parker — a big Foley fan) and the brand took off from there. The early vintages were custom-crushed and sourced from top vineyards up and down the valley — One of the keys to Bob’s success has always been the great care he takes in selecting the grapes that go into his wines. In 2006, Bob purchased a winery of his own as well as a vineyard on Howell Mountain. Production has steadily increased since then, and Bob currently makes a range of wines that include an Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, classic Bordeaux blends, and his delicious Claret, as well as Petit Sirah, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, and one of his personal favorites, Charbono.
If there was another key to Bob’s success it would have be his innate zeal and curiosity. When I visited him at the winery we tasted his latest passion project, a newly minted Port-style fortified wine, made from Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Cão. His boyish enthusiasm is evident in everything that he does, and it all shines through in these beautiful, concentrated, and delicious wines.
Medium to full-bodied wines with flavors of black cherry, plum, and tobacco
Roasts, hamburgers, other grilled meats
Merlot enjoyed a surge in popularity in the 1990s as consumers suddenly discovered that they could enjoy aromas and flavors similar to those of Cabernet in a fleshier, softer wine with smoother tannins. A wave of Merlot plantings followed, frequently in soils and microclimates completely inappropriate for this variety, and the market was soon flooded with dilute bottles from young vines and high crop levels, and weedy, herbaceous examples from underripe fruit. Many of these undernourished wines were overoaked in attempts to mask their deficiencies. Over the same period, a number of Cabernet producers began picking riper fruit and doing a better job managing their tannings during the making and aging of their wines. The result was an upswing of powerful, satisfying Cabernets that were far less austere in their youth -- and a sharp decline in interest in Merlot.
Still, California's best Merlots, some of which predated the vogue for this variety in the 1990s, continue to be some of the finest examples of this variety outside Bordeaux -- in the same quality league with wines from Washington State and Italy's Tuscan coast region. Expect to find broad, supple wines with medium to full body, typically with aromas and flavors of black cherry, plum, dark berries, dark chocolate, tobacco, and earth, and suave, fine-grained tannins. Merlot also rules in Pomerol, and nowhere in the world does this variety make more complete wines than on the flat, clay-rich plateau that lies at the heart of this appellation.