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Stony Hill

Napa, United States | website

Fred and Eleanor McCrea purchased the Stony Hill property on Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain in 1943 and began to plant Chardonnay vines in 194;, the first harvest followed in 1952, along with construction of a small winery. At the time there were only ten bonded wineries in Napa County, and only 200 acres of Chardonnay were planted in the entire state of California. ‘Experts’ at U.C. Davis advised them against planting Chardonnay, it was regarded as disease-prone and difficult to work with, but Fred and Eleanor loved white Burgundy, and they were convinced that their northeast-facing sites, 700-1200 feet high above the valley floor with volcanic and limestone soils over solid rock, were ideal for Chardonnay. They planted old Wente clones, and their intuition proved correct. 

Stony Hill has about 40 total acres under vine. Until recently, they produced only white wines, but they now have an 8 acre parcel of Cabernet Sauvignon at the top of the property. This plot has a completely different exposure than the northeastern facing vineyards lower down. The top vineyard faces exactly southwest and when Chardonnay grows here, it makes wines with ripe tropical fruit flavors, not consistent with the Stony Hill style. So when these Chardonnay vines became afflicted with Pierce’s disease, Chelini decided to replant with Cabernet Sauvignon. The foray into red was a novelty for a winery which had been strictly a white wine producer and famed for its Chardonnays, but the location was a good fit for Cabernet Sauvignon, which likes the warmer temperatures and afternoon sunlight. This site shares similar exposure, soils and elevation as many of the iconic mountain Cabs, and the wines recall the classic style which put Napa on the map in the 70’s and 80’s. Unlike so many overripe, high alcohol Napa fruit bombs the Cabernet is made very much in the Stony Hill style, restrained and structured, allowing the fruit to come through, balanced with savory notes and subtle tannins. These Cabernet vines are the only part of Stony Hill’s vineyard which are irrigated, the remainder are dry farmed.

In addition to Chardonnay and Cabernet, they also grow eight acres of White Riesling from which there is an aromatic wine with slightly less than one percent residual sugar, as well as six acres of Gewurztraminer from which they make a crisp, dry wine which is especially complementary to spicy foods.

Full Stony range available for private order!

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2010 Chardonnay 93+ John Gilman(Private order)

2013 White Riesling (Private order)

2013 Gewürztraminer (Private order)

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 SF Chronicle Top 100 (Private order)