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Frank Family Vineyards Winston Hill Proprietary Red 2012
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Take a trip back in time at the Frank Family Vineyards. First constructed as the Larkmead Winery in 1884, the building was refinished with native sandstone from the nearby hills in 1906 and still stands tall today. The massive stone edifice is considered an archetype of California’s wine country; it appears on the National Register of Historical Places and is listed as a Point of Historical Interest in the state of California.
Owner Richard Frank focuses his energies on making superb still wines. The winery produces Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Sangiovese and several distinctly different Cabernet Sauvignons. The highly regarded Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which is barrel aged for two and one-half years, is emerging as one of the most sought after wines in the valley and their Napa Carneros Vineyards produce some of the finest Chardonnay available. The Sangiovese, a rising star, is created entirely from grapes grown on Rich’s property and the Zinfandel comes from the Brown Vineyards in the Chiles Valley. Once owned by wine legend Hans Kornell, the winery originally secured its reputation with sparkling wines. Five sparkling wines are handcrafted today in the old building: Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, occasionally the Rouge and Reserve. All of these are made in the traditional French methode champenoise style.
Frank Family Vineyards wines are produced in small quantities and currently sold only at the winery and a handful of select retailers. A visit to the winery is not complete without a story-filled tour or at least a walk through the historic building where the thick stone walls, high-stacked barrels and rich bouquet of aging wines create the utmost in winery ambience. The winery provides separate tasting areas for sparkling wines and still wines. Just outside, to the south of the building, visitors are welcome to sit under the giant oak trees, relax at the wooden picnic tables and enjoy spectacular vineyard views.
Undoubtedly proving its merit over and over, and in a short span of time, Napa Valley is a relative newcomer in the world of prestigious red wine regions. While the 1960s brought a few determined growers to the valley, by the 1970s Napa Valley already had shown the world its ability to compete head-to-head with the esteemed region of Bordeaux. The victory of the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1976 Judgement of Paris, followed by Robert Parker’s 100-point perfect score awarded to the Groth 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon brought plenty of acclaim to the valley.
Though Cabernet Sauvignon undoubtedly still dominates Napa Valley in every way, covering half of the land under vine, commanding the highest prices per ton and enjoying plenty of recognition, other red varieties certainly thrive here as well. Important but often overlooked include Merlot, and other Bordeaux varieties well-regarded for single varietal wines or for their blending capacities. Very old vine Zinfandel still exists in the valley and in its mountain appellations, representing an important historical stronghold for the region. Pinot noir can be produced but mainly in the cooler southern parts of the valley close to the San Pablo Bay.
What makes Napa such an amazing place for the production of red wines? Mainly it is a combination of ideal weather patterns and incredible soil variations. A balance of hot days and cool nights from the cool moist air of the San Pablo Bay or elevation, or both, allows even and slow ripening of its grapes. Furthermore the valley and its more mountainous sub appellations claim over 100 soil variations including layers of volcanic, gravel, sand and silt—all ideal for world-class red wine production.