Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon
When I first visited the Napa Valley, land was dirt cheap. However, it wasn’t until 1977 that I finally made the purchase with my father. The elderly woman who owned the 100 acres and Victorian farmhouse we purchased wanted to sell, but with the caveat of a life stake to the property. At 83 she was still quite able to take care of herself, but couldn’t find a buyer as no one wanted to take a chance that she might live to 100! We sold three properties in San Francisco to pay her $1000/acre in a trade. We came to the property often checking in and surveying the land. Just 5 years later, she became ill and moved in with her sister in St. Helena. In 1983 my parents moved into the beautiful Victorian farmhouse.
After they moved in, I visited often, while maintaining a home, family and career in San Francisco. I also started to take classes on viticulture at the Napa Valley College, reading every book about winemaking and talking with every winemaker I met. In 1985, as a hobbyist, I planted a small vineyard on the property and created, just for fun, the unofficial first vintage in 1988. By 1991 my hobby turned serious as we produced our first commercial vintage.
Of the 100 acres purchased, only five acres of hillside vineyard were initially planted. These five acres produced scarcely over 325 cases for us on our 1991 vintage. As the vines matured and Mother Nature cooperated, we were able to produce 500 cases. This is comparatively a small amount of crop. While the fruit we harvest is sparse, it is intense in concentration and high in quality.
Since then we have planted an additional 8 acres; 6 of Cabernet Sauvignon, 1 of Merlot and 1 of Cabernet Franc. While we will continue to expand our vineyard slightly, we hope to preserve the beauty of the property, as the vineyard is surrounded by native trees and wildlife.
The vineyard is located on Spring Mountain, a sub-appellation of the Napa Valley. The area is comprised of only 8,600 acres, mostly unplanted, and is well known for producing bold Bordeaux varietal wines. The appellation is bordered by Diamond Mountain to the North, with the St. Helena Appellation to the South and East and Sonoma County to the West. Although Frias Family Vineyard is small, we have many different soil types which add to the overall complexity of the wines. The hillside vineyard is quite rocky with lighter colored clay and is a part of the Spring Mountain District Appellation. The lower vineyard is less rocky and comprised of red clay with one acre planted on volcanic ash and is entirely within the Saint Helena Appellation.