Porthos | The Wine Insiders
Vineyard 29
vin29_logo.jpg Teresa Norton and Tom Paine came to Napa Valley in 1989 to retire – a dream that was quickly replaced by another when they learned their estate was prime Cabernet Sauvignon territory. In a matter of weeks from purchase of the property, they were putting in a 3-acre vineyard under the watchful eye of lauded Vineyard Manager David Abreu and, within a year, planting cuttings from the Grace Family Vineyard, located 100 yards north.

The first release, 250 cases in 1992, was warmly received by press and public alike. The 1992 - 1998 vintages were made at the Grace Family winery with Gary Galleron (1992 - 1994) and Heidi Barrett (1995 - 1998) as winemakers.

In 1999, Philippe Melka became winemaker, bringing about an important unification of vineyard and winery interests, as he applies his geological and viticultural expertise and Bordelais background to both the vines and the winemaking process. The 1999 harvest was vinified at Miner Family Vineyards while plans were made for a winery and caves on the estate.

Late that year, retirement began to sing its siren song again, and Teresa and Tom began considering what the next stage in their life should be. In early 2000, they met Chuck and Anne McMinn, a couple whose interest in the future of Vineyard 29 proved to be as serious as theirs. In a most pleasant transition, Chuck and Anne became the new owners of Vineyard 29 and immediately put the winery and cave plans into motion. Construction is now complete, with the 2002 and 2003 vintages having been vinified entirely here on the estate, and the 2004 vintage underway. The vineyards have also been expanded, with the addition of approximately 2 acres of Cabernet Franc vines, and 1 acre of Sauvignon Blanc.

While the 30,000 square foot, 10,000 case winery and cave facility was under construction, Chuck and Anne began thinking about the opportunity to expand yearly production to better utilize the complete hands-on control of their own winery. As fate would have it, an historic piece of vineyard land became available at just the right time. The Aida vineyard, already famous as a source for zinfandel and petite sirah fruit coveted by several well-known winemakers, was 2 miles north of Vineyard 29, in a microclimate unique for the St. Helena appellation, and with soil capable of producing highly distinctive wines with great vineyard character. In January of 2001, Chuck and Anne finalized the purchase of the Aida vineyard, and began upgrading the plantings there to create a "sister" vineyard for 29's home wines.