In 2000, Napa Valley benefited from a cool, even growing season, enabling us to harvest our Vine Hill Vineyard cabernet sauvignon grapes at full maturity between September 27th and October 12th. Although a brief heat spike hit the valley in June, the region for the most part enjoyed cool summer temperatures, keeping the ripening process on an even keel. Some light rain in September served to preserve a high level of acidity in the grapes and to further extend their "hang time" on the vine, resulting in fruit with deep color and ripe, intense flavors. Small cluster and berry sizes further concentrated flavors, enabling us to produce an especially deep, focused 2000 Vine Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.
Fruit for our Vine Hill Cabernet Sauvignon comes from four blocks of the Vine Hill Vineyard, situated along Oakville's gently sloping western benchlands. The vineyard is owned by long-time grape grower Bob Phillips and his family. We've been fortunate to work with them since 1981, using grapes from their vineyard in our Benchland Select Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1997, we decided the vineyard was too special not to have its own bottling, so we began producing a Vine Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, which has become one of our most sought-after wines.
After the fruit was crushed, the juice and skins were moved to tank and allowed to cold soak for 72 hours before fermentation was initiated, a procedure designed to extract color and flavor. Once fermentation got underway, the juice was drained from one tank to another, allowing the skins in the first tank to fall to the bottom, only to be thoroughly re-macerated once the juice was splashed back into the tank. Known as rack-and-return, this procedure helps extract more color and flavor and also converts short-chain (harsh) tannins to long-chain (suppler) tannins. After an extended, four-week maceration, the wine was pressed and then transferred to French oak barrels, 75% new, where it spent 26 months aging before being bottled in December 2002.
The 2000 Vine Hill Cabernet Sauvignon displays the superb fruit and tannin structure characteristic of cabernets produced from the Oakville appellation. The wine offers intensely focused fruit, from its complex, layered aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, plum, cassis and spice to its deep, opulent, mouth-coating flavors. Delicious to drink now, it will age gracefully for another 5-8 years.