Chappellet Winery on Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley
2023 Harvest News and an Interview with Dominic Chappellet, Co-Owner, VP
I have just spent the month of October in Napa Valley during “crush.” I am now on Pritchard Hill/Napa Valley at Chappellet Winery for a portfolio tasting and an interview with Dominic Chappellet, Co-Owner, Vice President. It’s an exciting time in the Valley, with the harvest coming in later than last year due to a cooler Winter and Spring this year. See Above for Harvest Diaries on Crush at Chappellet.
Chappellet Winery is perennially one of my favorite Napa Valley wineries to visit. The view from Pritchard Hill to the Valley is stunning. The wines are complex and exquisitely beautiful. The hospitality of the tasting room staff and the Chappellet family is top notch. Let’s see how the history of this winery is unique and why the Chappellet customer family keeps growing. Wine Recommendations below.
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Dominic Chappellet on Customers: Growth
Question: Why do you think your customers continue to buy your wine?
“I have to believe that quality is at the core of the decision to buy our wines, but I think it is more than that. The quality might get you to seek out our wines once or twice, but my hope is that beyond quality we can make a connection with our customers through all of the little things that make us unique—our family, the people who have dedicated their lives to Chappellet, this incredible property, the artistic vision that is expressed in the wines, the winery building, the hanging art pieces, the gardens, the vineyard itself. Over time, I believe it is the tapestry of each unique attribute woven together that keeps people coming back to Chappellet.” – Dominic Chappellet, Co-Owner, Vice President
Chappellet Winery: The Pritchard Hill Story
Chappellet Winery sits on the eastern hills of Napa in an elevated area called Prichard Hill. Prichard Hill is home to some of the most cherished and cult labels (think Ovid, Colgin, Continuum, Chappellet) of Napa and boasts views of Lake Hennessy from an elevation of nearly 2000 feet. Donn and Molly Chappellet brought their young family to Napa in search of a special property. They were the pioneers of Prichard Hill who bought this land in 1967 on the advice of the famous Napa winemaker/vintner, André Tchelistcheff, then at Beaulieu Vineyard. The elevation and well-drained soils, although expensive to clear, make all the difference for the production of powerful, ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon wines, among other varieties.
The Chappellets’ trademarked the name “Pritchard Hill®” to be forever linked to being the early stewards of this valuable vineyard area. Molly Chappellet, a renowned landscape artist, and James Beard award-winning author, oversees the usage of the land and property insuring integration into the beauty of the Pritchard Hill landscape. The Chappellets have honored the integrity of Pritchard Hill with sustainable and environmentally conscious farming practices with 100% of the grapes grown on the estate vineyard coming from vineyard blocks farmed using organic methods. For more information see: "Napa Valley Pritchard Hill Pioneer: Chappellet Winery," Oct. 2021, Wine Wanderings.
Dominic Chappellet: The Approach to Blending
Question: Tell me about your approach to blending: Lots, varietals, vineyards.
“We are big proponents of blending, whether that’s blending specifically within a varietal like Chardonnay or Pinot Noir by selecting clones and grapes from specifics sites within a vineyard to highlight the best attributes of that year’s harvest. Or, by blending varieties together such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec to produce a balanced and nuanced expression of the grapes from Pritchard Hill as with our Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. Blending is an art that is at the heart of our winemaking philosophy.” – Dominic Chappellet, Co-Owner, Vice President
Dominic Chappellet: Sustainability Philosophy
Question: What are you doing in the areas of sustainability?
“That’s a big topic and at the core of our business. I like to say it starts with having a sustainable business. However, the business doesn’t exist without the property that makes it possible. So, our job is to be the best stewards of this property that we can. We employ organic farming, water reclamation, solar power, efficient wine making facilities, wildfire defense, encouraging healthy wildlife—the list goes on and on, but it comes down to doing the right thing by this property to sustain this business and set it up for future success.” -– Dominic Chappellet, Co-Owner, Vice President
Dominic Chappellet: What Makes You Different in Napa Valley/Pritchard Hill?
Question: What makes your winery different and alike to others in Napa Valley? Others in the Pritchard Hill area?
“The longevity of our winemaking team. Phillip Titus has been with us since 1990, Ry Richards has been with us 17 years, Daniel Docher 19 years, Bernabe Martinez 34 years. When you match that with a vineyard team that has Enrique Rodriguez 52 years, Dave Pirio 39 years, Andrew Opatz 15 years and the list goes on… These people know our property, our grapes, these microclimates, and soil types like no other team in the Napa Valley.” – Dominic Chappellet, Co-Owner, Vice President
Thanks to Chappellet Winery’s highly knowledgeable and personable Tasting Room Manager, Christian Lopez, for the incredible portfolio tasting and property tour. A huge thanks to Dominic Chappellet for making himself available to answer my questions.
Wine Advocate, 93 Points
Wine Enthusiast, 94 Points
One of my top 5 Merlot’s in Napa Valley. This Merlot has a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot and screams of mocha aromas.
Wine Enthusiast, 92 Points
Best of Tasting for me. The blend is 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 11% Petit Verdot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Merlot. This wine would be a great pairing with Cambozola cheese and a Ribeye steak. You’ll also find this on my Thanksgiving table. “The rocks,” it’s a nod to the volcanic soil and Spanish heritage of many employees.
2019 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $260/each – minimum 6 bottles by allocation only.
Robert Parker, 99 Points
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