The Magic City Sips

It is perhaps one of the most loved wines in the world. Modestly prestigious. Or to some, prestigiously modest. Since 1976, Dan and Margaret Duckhorn have spent over forty years of establishing Duckhorn as one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines into a tradition of brand excellence. In 1978, they introduced their inaugural vintage of 800 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and 800 cases of Merlot. Four years later, they added Sauvignon Blanc in 1982. Duckhorn Vineyards, located in St Helen, California has come to reflect a well-crafted tradition of refined wines of character and excellence.

It is the mission of Duckhorn Wines to: focus on quality, diversity, integrity, innovation, and environmental sustainability in the production and sale of our wines, by demonstrating the utmost respect for our employees, customers, trade partners, land, and communities. This winemaking tradition has grown to include seven Estate vineyards, located throughout the microclimates of the Napa Valley. Focused on quality and consistency, these vineyards are an essential element in making wines of distinction. Pioneering Merlot as a premium varietal, Duckhorn Vineyards now makes several elegant Merlot and distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings that showcase its vineyard sites. Duckhorn Vineyards has been named one of the “Top 100 Wineries” in the world seven times by Wine & Spirits, and the 2014 Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot Three Palms Vineyard was named the “2017 Wine of the Year,” by Wine Spectator. The Duckhorn Vineyards winemaking program is led by acclaimed Winemaker Renee Ary.

After earning a degree in chemistry and art from Saint Mary’s College, Renee went to work in the laboratory of Robert Mondavi Winery. While simultaneously working at the winery she furthered her knowledge of winemaking with classes at UC Davis and Napa Valley College.

In 2003, Renee came onboard with Duckhorn Vineyards under the tutelage of then winemaker, Mark Beringer. From Mr. Beringer, Renee became well versed in the protracted layers and the intricacies of Duckhorn’s Estate program over a span of eleven years. Because of her foundation in winery Renee learned the minute details of production. Initially a lab manager, Renee would serve as an enologist to assistant winemaker to associate winemaker in charge of Duckhorn’s Sauvignon Blanc and Monitor Ledge Vineyard wines in 2014.

In a company statement, she gave a profound statement, “I am incredibly fortunate to work with some of Napa Valley’s most exceptional grapes,” says Renee. “There is no recipe or formula. My job is to let the vineyards speak and convey the soul of the wine.” In the late 1980s we set out to locate and purchase vineyard properties in recognized Napa Valley areas in order to acquire sufficient vineyard land to meet most of our long-term grape needs. Our Napa Valley Estate Vineyard portfolio is now comprised of seven unique properties. Each site produces grapes with distinct attributes that reflect the variations in soil, terrain, microclimate, and exposure.

Much of Duckhorn’s success can be attributed to their vineyards which yield choice grapes. Duckhorn Vineyards produces its first vintage of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc using grapes from Marlee’s Vineyard. Sitting at 246 feet and consisting of 16.43 acres, Marlee’s Vineyard was so named in honor of Margaret Duckhorn in 1976 and home to the Estate House. It is a treasured part of Duckhorn’s portfolio and was the first vineyard that the brand planted. The Napa River marks the western border and winter floods have deposited layers of silty river-bottom soil over time, making for a rich, well-drained sandy-loam profile. The site is ideally suited to grow Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon; the grapes from this site are the backbone of Duckhorn’s white wine program.

Duckhorn wines can be purchased at the Crestline and the Clairmont Piggly Wiggly locations in Birmingham. You can also enjoy a glass locally at Hop City Beer and Wine or with a fine salad from Brick and Tin,

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