Napa Valley AVA
94+ Points, Robert Parker , 4 Stars — Highly Recommended, Decanter magazine
When Ray Signorello, Sr. decided in 1977 to buy a beautiful 100-acre parcel of land off the Silverado Trail on Napa Valley’s eastern side, his first intention was to provide a suitable site for a retirement home for his family. Ray Sr. was in the mining business in Canada and bought the property from a business associate who had once thought of moving to Northern California, but whose plans had never reached fruition.
A few years later several acres were planted and the resulting fruit was then sold to different wineries in the area. The family’s grower status remained unchanged until 1985, when son Ray Jr. became involved with the project.
“My father and I were spending a lot of time in Napa Valley and we finally decided to make a little wine, but it was mostly for fun. We were both living in Vancouver, British Columbia, and all of a sudden, it all seemed much more attractive to me,” the younger Signorello related. “I can state for a fact that the wine bug sets in pretty quickly.”
In 1987, the first 2,600 cases of Chardonnay were released, marking the true beginning of Signorello Estate wines. The following year, Ray Jr. took a “leap of faith” and moved to California to attend to the chores associated with expanding the wines of Signorello Estate. A new winery was completed the same year and the fledgling business was off and running.
“At the time, we wanted to insure that everything we did on our property was controlled by our family, from growing to producing and, finally, bottling our wines,” he added. “If you check closely on the label of most Napa Valley wineries, you will find very few true estate bottlings. We are extremely proud to be one of a small number that actually do everything ourselves.”
Even though Ray Sr. died in 1998, Ray Jr. has carried on grandly in his father’s place. And, he has done so by following his own set of guidelines that he has developed through the ensuing years.
“Many wineries prefer to take the short cut to success,” Ray Jr. explained. “These wineries go out and hire famous winemakers or renowned vineyard managers to get the type of instant press that comes with well-known wine figures. We have preferred to follow the harder path to success by doing everything in house. It’s a slower way to gain recognition, but our Signorello Estate is more about style and long term quality than it is about instant recognition.”
Speaking of style, Ray Signorello, Jr. feels strongly about his winery’s choice of technique. He considers himself and his wines as disciples of the old school, that being the old world, Bordeaux-influenced wines that age well, are perfectly balanced and come with correct amounts of tannin and acidity living in blissful harmony.
“I guess you could call me a proprietor and be correct,” he went on. “I am part of every aspect of growing and producing our wine. Even though we employ a winemaker, I feel my own stamp of approval should be found on each of our wines.”
Now that Signorello Estate is into its third decade of wine production, the winery continues to attempt to improve its quality and status. Ray Jr. has amassed an 8,000-bottle cellar of wines from around the world to help his task and literally “ground myself with what other wineries are accomplishing and therefore keep me from getting tunnel vision about our own wines.”
Signorello Estate will produce 7,500 cases this year, a relatively small amount for an established Napa Valley winery, but perfectly in line for an estate operation. Exceptional press and multiple awards have been common for the winery almost from inception but have not deterred Ray Signorello, Jr. from his stated goal.
“Around here, it’s more about legacy and longevity than anything else. I have looked around and often found that the wineries with the biggest press have not always made the best wines. How many wineries have started off with a bang and charged huge prices for their wines because of the press they received? Many of these wineries no longer exist, and that says something about the industry right there. Anyone who thinks this is an easy business knows very little about it and that’s why I am so pleased that we are currently in our 23rd year.”
Signorello Estate wines speak for themselves. You will quickly see why we are featuring this in the Diamond Series Wine Club.