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Joseph Phelps

Joe Phelps was a Colorado-bred farm boy who, after serving in the US Navy during the Korean War, returned home to take over his father's small construction business, which he grew into a highly successful multi-state concern. Joe had a side interest however – wine! He began collecting wine and dabbled in winemaking at home using fruit flown in overnight from the Napa Valley. It was probably inevitable that in time the construction work would meld with the wine interest, and this happened when the company was contracted to build the Souverain Winery in the Napa Valley. Joe began looking for a site to grow grapes and make a little wine in the region, and in 1973 he first set eyes on the well over 600 acre cattle ranch on the east side of St. Helena that would become Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Joe hired German-born Walter Schug (who would go on to found Schug Winery) as his winemaker and planted 100 acres. Game to try anything on this blank surface of a vineyard canvas an eclectic mix of grape varieties were planted, cultivating just about anything they could think of. The winery, designed by John Marsh Davis and built by Joe's firm was completed in time for the 1974 harvest, when he produced California's first varietally-labelled Syrah, inspired by the Côte Rotie and Hermitage wines he collected. That same year Joe produced what would become their flagship wine - the extraordinary “Insignia” - California's first proprietary red Bordeaux-style blend; arguably his most important legacy. It is one of the globe's finest Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blends, and the wine that brought recognition to Joseph Phelps, and made the world sit up and look at the Napa Valley. Initially Joe sourced fruit from other growers to supplement his own, but gradually acquired other vineyards, and began to concentrate on Bordeaux varietals. In 1998 Joe's son Bill joined the business, acquiring more acreage and becoming President in 2008 when Joe relinquished control, and Joe's other three children, daughters Leslie, Laurie and Lyn also became actively involved in the family business, assisted by two of Joe's grandchildren, Elizabeth Neuman and Will Phelps. Now 425 acres are under vine in nine unique vineyard sites farmed across the Napa Valley in the appellations of Rutherford, Oakville, Stags Leap District, Oak Knoll District and Carneros. Additionally they have 100 acres on two sites near Freestone (Pastorale and Quarter Moon Vineyards]) in the cool climate region of the western Sonoma Coast for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which produce elegant Burgundian style wines. All the vineyards are sustainably managed, each with its own personality bringing different characteristics to the wines. Joe founded his winery with a long-term view. He was a true pioneer of the Napa Valley and today his legacy lives on through the impressive portfolio that epitomise the Joseph Phelps wines.

jpvwines.com