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03.08.2005

The Wines of St. Helena, Together Again For The First Time

shvs.jpg Once upon a time, there was a small town called St. Helena that sat quietly in the middle of a little known valley in Northern California. Throughout the 1800s it was settled by immigrant farmers and settlers moving West. Most set about farming and providing for their families, but a few enterprising souls put some vines in the ground, and boy did they grow. It didn't take long for people to realize that they were living someplace special when it came to wine. Vineyards multiplied, wineries sprang up large and small, and the folks in the wine business decided they needed a forum to share ideas, build their business, and socialize with other winegrowers and winemakers. And thus, the St. Helena Viticultural Society was born. Founded by H.A. Pellet and Charles Krug in 1876, the society's early members included people such as Connelly Conn, Charles Wheeler, Dr. G.B. Crane, Seneca Ewer, J.C. Weinberger, John Llewelling, and John York. If some of those last names aren't familiar, take a look at a map of Napa Valley and then read them again. The society was open to everyone in the "city limits" of St. Helena that made wine, and by the early 1880s there were over 100 members. That's right, over 100 people making wine in St. Helena.

Well, come the turn of the century, Prohibition set in, then the great depression, and winegrowing and winemaking went into a little bit of a coma until it was revived over the past four of five decades. Today, of course, St. Helena the town and St. Helena the appellation both sit at the heart of one of the most famous winemaking regions of the world.

And now, after a 128 year hiatus, the St. Helena Viticultural Society has been revived. Its first meetings took place this past summer, and on February 25, 2005 the member wineries gathered in the historic Hudson House at the Beringer Brothers Winery to celebrate the re-establishment of this historic organization, and of course, to drink some wine.

All wines are from the St. Helena sub-appellation unless otherwise noted.

TASTING NOTES:

2002 Hourglass Wine Company Cabernet. Score: 9.5/10. Price: $110.
2003 Casa Nuestra "Tinto St. Helena" Field Blend. 9 varietals. Score: 9.5. Price: $37.
1996 Corison "Kronos Vineyard" Cabernet. Score: 9.5. Price: $85.
2002 Charter Oak Napa Zinfandel. Score: 9.5. Price: $40
2002 Ehlers Estate "1886" Cabernet Blend. Score: 9.5. Price: $??
2001 Milat Vineyards Cabernet Score: 9.5. Price: $36.
2002 Bisou Cabernet. Score: 9.5. Price: $60.

2001 Bisou Cabernet. Score: 9/9.5. Price: $60.
2002 Chateau Boswell "Jacquelynn" Cuvee. Score: 9/9.5. Price: $64.
2002 Vineyard 29 Cabernet. Score: 9/9.5. Price: $??
2001 Corison "Kronos Vineyard" Cabernet. Score: 9/9.5. Price: $??
1997 Corison "Kronos Vineyard" Cabernet. Score: 9/9.5. Price: $70.
2001 Crocker Starr "Stone Place Cuvee" Cabernet. Score: 9/9.5. Price: $55.
2002 Ehlers Estate Merlot. Score: 9/9.5. Price: $25.
2002 Ruston Family Vineyards "La Maestra" Red Blend. Score: 9/9.5. Price: $55.

2001 Trinchero Estate Cabernet. Score: 9. Price: $??
2001 Whitehall Lane Cabernet. Score: 9. Price: $20.
2002 Spottswoode Cabernet. Score: 9. Price: $85.
2002 Ehlers Estate Cabernet. Score: 9. Price: $29.
2002 Crocker Starr Cabernet Franc. Very tannic. Let it alone for 5 years. Score: 9. Price: $35.
2000 Beringer "Chabot Vineyards" Cabernet. Score: 9. Price: $60.
2001 Bresseler Cabernet. Score: 9. Price: $??
2002 Broman Cellars "Dr. Crane Vineyard" Cabernet. Score: 9. Price: $??
2002 Chateau Boswell Estate Cabernet. Score: 9. Price: $44.
2001 Heitz Cellars Grignolino. Score: 9. Price: $15
2001 Revana Family Vineyards. First vintage; Heidi Barrett winemaker. Score: 9. Price: $90.

2000 Beringer "St. Helena" Cabernet. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $100.
1998 Corison "Kronos Vineyard" Cabernet. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $80.
2002 Chase Vineyards Zinfandel. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $34.
2001 Duckhorn "Patzimaro Vineyard" Cabernet. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $90.
2002 Edge Hill "Butala Vineyards" Zinfandel. Spicy. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $35.
2002 Titus Zinfandel. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $27.
2002 Titus Cabernet. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $36.
2000 Trinchero Cabernet. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $??
2001 Parry Cellars Cabernet. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $??
2001 Ruston Family Vineyards Cabernet. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $20.
2001 Spottswoode Cabernet. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $85.
2002 Wolf Family Vineyards Cabernet. Score: 8.5/9. Price: $??
2002 Vineyard 29 Aida Red Blend (70% Cab, 30% Merlot). Score: 8.5/9. Price: $??

2002 Anomaly Vineyards Cabernet. Score: 8.5. Price: $??
2002 Ballantine "Betty's Vineyard" Syrah, Napa. Oldest single vineyard Syrah in Napa. Score: 8.5. Price: $18.
2004 Milat Vineyards Chenin Blanc. Score: 8.5. Price: $18.
2003 Milat Vineyards Chardonnay. Score: 8.5. Price: $18.
2000 Corison "Kronos Vineyard" Cabernet. Score: 8.5. Price: $??
2002 Titus Merlot. Score: 8.5. Price: $25.
2001 Salvestrin Cabernet Score: 8.5. Price: $40.
2000 William Cole Vineyards. Score: 8.5. Price: $??
2002 Wolf Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc. Score: 8.5. Price: $??
2002 Vineyard 29 Aida Zinfandel. Score: 8.5. Price: $??
2003 Heitz Cellars Grignolino Rose Score: 8/8.5. Price: $15.
2001 David Fulton Petite Sirah. Score: 8/8.5. Price: $35
2001 Calafia Cabernet. Score: 8. Price: $??
2001 Rutherford Grove Petite Sirah. Score: 8. Price: $28.

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