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Volker Eisele Family Estate - Napa Valley

95 Points & Cellar Selection, Wine Enthusiast magazine

Volker Eisele is one of those wine industry rarities that have enjoyed enormous success in more than one facet of the wine business. For more than three decades, German-born (from the northwestern German town of Munster) Eisele has enjoyed success as one of Napa Valley’s top growers, selling his fruit to the Beaulieu Vineyards, Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Chappellet, Spring Mountain, Pahlmeyer, Quail Ridge and others. His grapes have consistently brought top prices and have been in incredible demand whenever they reached the open market.

Lately, his perfectly conceived Volker Eisele Family Estate winery has begun to exceed Eisele’s near legendary status as one of the area’s premiere growers. It all began in the early 1970s, when Eisele and his wife Liesel (herself a noted landscape architect), decided they wanted to live in the country. They had owned a small weekend house in Napa Valley and decided the bucolic atmosphere was well suited to their needs. They settle in Chiles Valley (on Napa’s eastern side) and actually planted their first vines in 1974.

“When we finally settled in and looked around,” recalled Eisele, “I realized there was nothing else to do in the area but grow grapes. I taught school for a while and hated it. The idea of planting vines and nurturing them along was a perfect alternative for me.” Eisele was fortunate that his property came with a long pedigree that further enhanced his individual pursuit of producing the perfect grape. The 60-acre plot was part of the old Rancho Catacula Mexican land grant that had been given to founder Joseph Chiles in 1843 by the last Mexican governor of California. It was developed for grapes during the 1870s by the Sievers Family, and some of the original buildings and tanks remain on the property today.

Volker Eisele, now in his sixties, was the first Napa grower to embrace the concept of organic farming and is proud of the fact that every grape he has grown can be certified organic.

“When you consider that less than 4% of the grapes in Napa County can be certified as organic, you start to see the importance,” he added. “I believe our methods produce better vines and then better fruit.” Eisele was primarily responsible for his locale’s designation as the Chiles Valley District under its own appellation. He has seen the area grow during his tenure and become one of the leading producers of top quality grapes in Napa County. The call to establish his own winery, the Volker Eisele Family Estate, came in 1997 when he produced around 700 cases of his first wine. He exhibited the same commitment to detail and was pleased when his wines met with instant critical acclaim.

“To say that I am meticulous in my approach to wines is putting it mildly,” Eisele further stated.

“I view my wines as I view my vineyards. I am a major proponent of detail management and that all works toward the goal of perfect quality control. We even go as far as shoot management with our vines and designate whether a shoot can have zero, one or two clusters. We never allow more than two since it affects the plant.” Such attention to detail makes Volker Eisele’s wines much sought after. He has carefully and conservatively monitored the growth of Volker Eisele Family Estate wines and will produce around 5,000 cases of this year’s vintage. He sees continued slow growth for the next few years and hopes to reach around 7,000 cases by the year 2010.

“After that we will have to plant some more vines,” he admitted. “Luckily, there is still some excellent ground on our estate that we can use.” Volker Eisele is also pleased that his son Alexander has been involved in the family business. Alexander is responsible for monitoring the day-to-day vineyard operations and also handles the sales and marketing responsibilities for the entity. Eisele has always been politically active in the Napa area and takes keen interest in land use issues and wine policy issues. His eyes light up at the mention of political initiatives, long the lifeblood of the California political system. Volker Eisele is that rare combination of gentleman farmer and successful vintner. His wines are meticulously crafted and in great demand at the very highest levels.

It is with great pleasure that we present this month’s Diamond Series Selection from the Volker Eisele Family Estate. Enjoy!

  1. Volker Eisele
    2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Volker Eisele
    Alexander Valley
    Napa Valley


    95 Point - Cellar Selection
    id: 541