Napa Valley AVA
91-Points—A Highly Distinctive Wine,” - Connoisseurs’ Guide.
Winery owner Lyndsey Harrison and her late husband, Michael thought about living in Tuscany before discovering a beautiful 48-acre piece of land in the Napa Valley. They were looking for a quiet place in the country. “Michael wanted lots of trees and I wanted vines,” says Lyndsey Harrison. “We fell in love with this property the moment we saw it.”
The Harrisons had no intention of entering the wine business even though the Napa property they acquired in 1988 contained 17 acres of mature Cabernet and Chardonnay vines. The two prior owners of the property sold the fruit to neighboring wineries such as Chappellet and Caymus. “A lot of our neighbors encouraged us to make our own wine,” Lyndsey recalls. “They already knew about the high quality of grapes coming out of the vineyards here,” she says. So with the help of their friends and neighbors, the Harrisons made an experimental barrel of Cabernet and Chardonnay. Their initial effort was so successful they quickly set up plans to become a full-fledged winery.
The first few vintages were made at a neighboring facility, Pecota Winery. The Harrisons released their first commercial wines, a 1989 Chardonnay and a 1989 Cabernet Sauvignon, in 1990 and 1991, respectively. “Our neighbors once again stepped in to help by plugging us in to the wine distribution circuit,” says Lyndsey. As it turned out all they needed was a little push from the nest and they were flying on their own. Both wines met with immediate critical success, receiving high marks from virtually all the wine press. In 1991 the Harrisons built a cave on the property to serve as an aging cellar for their Cabernet Sauvignon.
There are actually 5 separate small vineyards on the Harrison property. Two original vineyards of Cabernet planted in the early 1970s, and a new plot added in 1989, for a total of 8 1/2 acres. Two distinct vineyards of Chardonnay add another 9 acres. Because of the relatively steep hillside slope, there is no space left for more vineyards. “We want to remain a small winery,” reveals Lyndsey. About 4,500 cases are all Lyndsey Harrison can coax out of her vineyards. In addition to mainstay estate wines, Cabernet and Chardonnay, Harrison also produces small amounts of Merlot, Zinfandel and Claret. A minute amount of Syrah will also be introduced in the fall.
Lyndsey was born and raised in New Zealand and moved to southern California with her family when she was twelve years old. She went back to New Zealand in 1964 to attend nursing school then returned to California to begin her career. Several years later, while still a nurse, Lyndsey switched careers to become a flight attendant for Pan Am. Her extensive international flight schedule precipitated her first husband, Michael, in Bangkok, Thailand. The two settled briefly in New York where Michael’s business was located. Soon however, the Harrisons moved lock, stock and barrel to the Napa Valley where they began their winery operation. “We yearned for the countryside,” Lyndsey explains.
Tragically, several years ago Michael passed away. Last fall, Lyndsey married local resident, Robert Leslie. “He wasn’t involved in the wine industry but he converted over very quickly,” laughs Lyndsey. Recently, the newlyweds traveled to Lyndsey’s New Zealand homeland where they acquired a 180-acre Pinot Noir vineyard. “New Zealand’s wine industry is emerging into world-class status,” reports Lyndsey. “New Zealand is close to my heart and we want to be involved as much as we can.”
Despite the newly acquired vineyard in New Zealand, Harrison Winery remains very much a small business. Lyndsey is responsible for making the Napa Valley wines along with assistant Winemaker, Paul Curreri and consulting winemaker, Marco DiGiulio. Daughter, Sofia, heads up the sales and marketing. “We help each other at whatever needs to be done,” says Lyndsey. “We overlap our responsibilities in a lot of different areas.”
The Harrisons have created a family compound of sorts on their Napa property. Robert and Lyndsey live there, as does her daughter, Sofia and Lyndsey’s granddaughter Taylor. The Harrison family takes great pride in their small, family winemaking enterprise. “We simply want to make the best wine in Napa Valley,” declares Lyndsey. We hope you enjoy this latest Platinum selection from Harrison Winery.