The Chimney Rock estate began to take shape in 1980, when Hack and Stella Wilson purchased a 180-acre parcel – which included a golf course – situated on the east side of the Silverado Trail. They built their country house based on Cape Dutch-style architecture and started planting vineyards shortly afterwards.
The first 59 acres were planted with a combination of red and white grapes, and the premier vintage of Chimney Rock estate wines was produced in 1984. In the early 1990s, the Cape Dutch-style winery building (with the massive allegorical frieze of Ganymede, cupbearer to the gods) and the tasting room were added to the estate. In 2000, the Terlato family joined the Wilson family as partners in the winery with added resources and the goal of enhancing Chimney Rock’s reputation for producing some of the world’s great estate Cabernet Sauvignons. In 2002, the remaining land, covering 46 acres, was planted entirely to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Since the Terlato family assumed sole ownership of Chimney Rock in 2004, they have had a clear vision of the potential of this great estate. They have steadfastly supported and shepherded only the highest standards in viticulture and winemaking. The Chimney Rock estate now comprises 119 acres of vineyards divided into 28 distinct blocks, allowing for highly specialized viticulture suited to each specific site.
Each year is a learning opportunity to continue to try different yeasts, different barrels, cap management techniques, and aging procedures. The goal of every vintage is to continue fine-tuning and producing the best expression of our renowned Stags Leap District estate red wines and our unique estate white wines.
The journey of winemaking begins every year as we pay close attention to watching our fruit develop, obsessively monitoring the growing season. We observe the fruit characteristics so that when our grapes are harvested, we are ready to make the critical decisions which will create magic in the barrel.
Winemaking is a life-long journey, and we are committed to learning from our grapes and listening to our vineyards to produce the best wines we can, year after year.
hen the Terlatos first became involved with the estate, they recognized that to make unique wines of exceptional quality, the estate’s world-class vineyards would require a winemaking facility of equal caliber. Accordingly, in 2002, they dedicated significant resources toward building a state-of-the-art winery. This new winemaking facility offers our winemaking team the ability to ferment each and every vineyard block separately, while also conducting small-lot experiments to fine-tune and further express the true spirit of the Chimney Rock estate. The accompanying climate-controlled barrel rooms allow for long-term aging of Chimney Rock wines in French oak barrels at the ideal temperature and humidity. What starts in the vineyard comes to fruition in the winery. Winemaker Elizabeth Vianna is deeply cognizant and intimately familiar with the estate's vineyards, and she fully captures the estate's unique terroir through meticulous vineyard management and careful, artistically minimal winemaking principles. This “non-interventionist” style of winemaking allows the winemaker to fully utilize that which this wonderful and unique Stags Leap soil is capable of delivering. The end result offers wines that are pristine and authentic in terms of varietal character, accompanied by a velvety taste in the mouth and astounding softness, balance, and cohesion.
Our practices include:
Of the 100 oldest businesses in the world, 10 of them are wineries. Family ownership and caring for the land allows for this type of longevity. As such, sustainability requires a long-term perspective — one that we fully embrace. We view ownership and participation in terms of generations. As stewards of the land, management of our certified green estate, with minimal impact, is of paramount importance. At Chimney Rock, it is this responsibility that guides our viticulture and winemaking processes.
The result of all this careful attention to the vines at Chimney Rock is a true expression of Stags Leap District “terroir” –— wines that resonate with intense flavors of cassis and blackberry, are refined, rich in color, balanced with finely structured tannins that — making our wines drinkable upon release, and for many years as they age gracefully.
All the grapes for Chimney Rock’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux style red blends are grown on the winery’s 131-acre estate at the southern end of the Stags Leap District. The winemakers capture the estate’s unique terroir through an innovative and meticulous approach to vineyard management.
The team has put resources toward individually developing, cultivating, and harvesting each unique vineyard block to maximize its potential. This intensely focused hands-on approach has led to the creation of 28 distinct vineyard blocks on our property.
In our pursuit to produce unique wines, we selected a few of the most distinctive vineyards to showcase the depth, range, and elegance of Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon. The Tomahawk, Alpine, Clone 7 and Ganymede vineyards are all within a quarter mile of each other; however, they each display remarkable and consistent individuality. Often wildly different from one another, these wines truly reflect the singular nature of the Chimney Rock estate, and it is no surprise that these wines are among the most coveted by our wine club members.
One of the many blessings we celebrate at Chimney Rock is the remarkable diversity of soil types in our vineyards. Our winemaking team individually develops, cultivates, and harvests each unique area to maximize its potential.
Tomahawk Vineyard is the pinnacle of the Chimney Rock estate. Comprised of a small group of vines which were planted in 2002, Tomahawk consistently produces intense, massively complex fruit. The ensuing wines are truly world-class, compelling, powerful and elegant with a remarkably lengthy finish.
The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Tomahawk Vineyard offers a darker fruited, meaty, masculine and mineral-driven style. Coming from a site in Stags Leap, and aged in 80% new French oak, it's medium to full-bodied and nicely textured on the palate, with solid balance, good ripeness, lots of tannins, and a good finish. Forget bottles for 4-5 years and enjoy over the following two decades.
-Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points
62% Sangiovese, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah (percentage may vary). Among Tuscany's oldest and most prestigious wine families, Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari teamed with Allen Shoup to produce a wine that showcases Washington State's terroir with plenty of Italian character. Saggi (meaning "wisdom") is a stunning blend of two outstanding Washington Sangiovese vineyards. Candy Mountain Sangiovese gives the wine its dark fruit flavors and appealing notes of anise. Dick Boushey's Yakima Valley Sangiovese, planted in 1992, adds vibrancy and liveliness. Because Cabernet Sauvignon has the potential to overtake Sangiovese, the Folonaris work closely with Sagemoor Vineyards to carefully select blocks of Cabernet they know from experience deliver elegant character and refined tannins. Syrah, also from Sagemoor, adds to the wine's dark color and rich mid-palate.
Shows cherries, chocolate and hints of cedar. Medium-bodied, tight and focused with a fine and silky finish. Pretty blend of 62% sangiovese, 28% cabernet sauvignon and 10% syrah. Drink or hold. -James Suckling 95 Points
Crème de cassis, ripe black cherries, licorice, and toasty oak all emerge from the 2015 Saggi Red Wine, which is a blend of 62% Sangiovese, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. With an inky color, full-bodied richness, fine, polished tannin and a great finish, it's another terrific wine from this estate that's going to evolve beautifully for 10-15 years.- Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points