Frog’s Leap founder John Williams got his start in wine in 1972 by way of an internship at Taylor Wine Company in New York. Two years later, having been bitten hard by the wine bug, John found himself on a Greyhound Bus bound for Napa Valley. There John met Larry Turley — he was actually camping illegally on Turley’s property when they met, but Larry took a liking to him anyway and helped John get a job at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
During his time at Stag’s Leap John also enrolled in the wine program at UC Davis. He graduated in 1977 and proceeded to head back to New York for a job as winemaker at Glenora Winery. Napa would have the final say, however, and in 1980 John moved back west to take a job as head winemaker at Spring Mountain Vineyards. That same year, he married Julie Johnson, and the next year John and Julie launched Frog’s Leap Winery in partnership with Turley. The first wines were made at Turley’s property, (an old frog raising farm, which gave the brand its name), with fruit purchased from Spottswood. The original lineup consisted of Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel, with Cabernet and Merlot added in 1984 and 1990 respectively.
In 1993 Larry Turley sold his interest in Frog’s Leap to start Turley Wine Cellars, and John and Julie began looking for a new home for their winery. They ended up purchasing the Red Barn, a beautiful 40-acre vineyard property located in prime Cabernet country, on Conn Creek Road near Caymus, Round Pond, and Beckstoffer‘s Georges III Vineyard. The grounds and buildings are classic California in style and include organic gardens with a wide range of herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, a beautifully restored red barn, and a farmhouse which serves as the tasting and hospitality facility.
After many successful vintages, John and Julie put the icing on the cake in 2007, purchasing the magnificent 52-acre Rossi Estate on Highway 29 in Rutherford. The added acreage resulted in the first estate-grown Cabernet, produced in 2012 and released in 2014. The style here leans more towards restrained elegance, perfume, and balance — fine-tuned Cabernet with modest alcohol but plenty of focus, energy, and drive. With the Estate program now fully established, Frog’s Leap looks to be entering into a new, prosperous phase of it’s already storied history.