Volker Eisele Family Estate

Chiles Valley AVA

40 years of incredible consistency from the Chiles Valley District

Volker Eisele is one of those wine industry rarities that have enjoyed enormous success in more than one facet of the wine business. For nearly four 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 likes of Beaulieu Vineyards, Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Chappellet Winery, Spring Mountain Vineyard, Pahlmeyer, Quail Ridge Winery 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 premier growers. It all began in the early 1970’s 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 settled 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.” Eisle 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 1870’s by the Sievers Family, and some of the original buildings and tanks remain on the property today. Volker Eisele, now in his seventies, 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. This year, 2014, marks the estate’s 40th year of farming organically.

“When you consider that few 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 were 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 be using all of their vineyard’s estate fruit within the next couple of years. At that point they will be producing around 8,000 cases.

“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 Platinum Wine Club selection from the Volker Eisele Family Estate. Enjoy!

Featured Wines

Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,

My family and I are happy to share our 2010 Terzetto with you. It is the result of a particularly balanced growing season in the Chiles Valley District Appellation. The year began with normal (35 inches) and well distributed rainfall without any dangerous downpours that often cause severe erosion. Budding out, flowering, fruit set, veraison and ripening were all on time and uneventful.

In the end we were able to pick well shaped clusters, with perfectly sized berries and the ideal quantity per vine. As a result, the fruit was in the best condition: no blemishes, even ripeness, and very well developed color. The sugar was as 25 degrees Brix, with strong acidity and tannins giving us a balanced wine. We produced 600 cases of Terzetto. As delicious as the wine is now, it will reward the patient connoisseur. In four to five years, the wine should be at its very vest and then live for another 15 to 20 years.

The age of the vines is on average 16 years, which means that they are in their prime. Careful management from judicious pruning to organic growing are essential for bringing out the best in the vineyard.

It is now 40 years that we have farmed organically and the vineyard shows it in its consistency. Organic growing makes stronger vines and stronger vines make better grapes.

We would love to welcome you to the vineyard.

Alexander Eisele