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Vine Cliff Winery - Napa Valley


State-of-the-art gravity fed production plant that compliments its world-class buildings and vineyards

Like a flashy thoroughbred horse whose fashionable pedigree imparts breeding and class, Napa Valley’s Vine Cliff Winery stands confidently among the wine industry’s elite establishments from a number of points of view.

First of all, Vine Cliff’s history traces back to the original estate of Gorge C. Yount, one of Napa’s founding scions and namesake for the popular Southern Napa town. Five years after Yount’s death in 1865, George Burrage and Thomas Tucker purchased a portion of his estate and started wine production approximately a year later. The site was situated on a rocky hillside on Napa Valley’s northeast side and quickly became the largest winery in the valley.

When Burrage and Tucker died prior to 1890, wealthy San Franciscan John Fry purchased the property with its incredible winery and tunnel complex and set out to make Vine Cliff the finest winery in the State. He had made his fortune in Nevada silver and through San Francisco real estate investment and had important connections to the important Napa Valley Wine Company, a dominant force in the late 19th Century wine industry.

Phylloxera destroyed both the vineyards and winery and by 1900, wine production had come to an end.

It wasn’t until eighty-five years later that the proverbial phoenix arose and Vine Cliff was rescued from obscurity. The winery’s modern day benefactors are the Sweeney Family of Northern Virginia, who gained prominence in the hotel business and finally settled in Napa Valley. In 1985, Chuck and Nell Sweeney purchased the estate and set about to restore it to its former elegance and standing.

At the same time, the winery was officially proclaimed a “ghost” winery, or a winery that had fallen on hard times and had to be abandoned.

Of the original winery and tunnels, only the rudimentary first floor and most of the tunnel complex remained. For the next decade, the Sweeney Family embarked on an ambitious building plan that today ranks Vine Cliff among the finest facilities in the entire world. The winery’s centerpiece is a state-of-the-art gravity fed production plant that compliments its world-class buildings and vineyards.

The Sweeney’s 44-year-old son Rob who serves as Vine Cliff’s general manager makes most of Vine Cliff’s day-to-day decisions. Rob returned to Napa Valley in 1990 to manage the family’s vineyard operations and lend a hand in running the winery. Upon his return, Rob immediately introduced a number of specific ecological farming practices to Vine Cliff, a subject about which he is most passionate.

“If I had my own way,” he recently confided, “Vine Cliff would be 100% organic. Due to the steep slopes that constitute our vineyards and the incredible rockiness that persists throughout the area, I prefer to call it integrated pest management, at least for now.”


  1. Vine Cliff
    2001 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Vine Cliff
    Oakville Estate, Napa
    Napa Valley

    $60.00

    91 - Wine Spectator
    id: 70
    Special
    Platinum

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