“Kenward and Ames source fruit from some of Napa Valley’s very finest sites for these rich, sumptuous wines. In fact, in some cases, site is really what comes through most in the wines. I am thinking in particular of some of the wines from Vine Hill Ranch Vineyard I saw this year.” ANTONIO GALLONI, VINOUS

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The Phillips family has represented the best of the Napa Valley grape growing community for three generations. Their Vine Hill Ranch Vineyard is a special part of Tor’s 50-year history in the Napa Valley. He knew its early stewards, Bob and Alex Phillips, who moved to their family’s Oakville vineyard in 1978. Over time, they cultivated it into the world-renowned site it is today – best suited for Cabernet Sauvignon. We now work with their son, Bruce Phillips, where we have three blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon. We are hard pressed to think of a vintage where Vine Hill Ranch Vineyard did not contribute to our Black Magic bottling. The Phillips family’s love and dedication to the land is inspirational.

Our 2021 Vine Hill Ranch is a co-ferment of gravelly blocks 4, 7, and 3. In ‘21, Jeff and Tor decided the sum is greater than its parts and they were right. This wine was fermented for 13 days on the skins. After basket pressing, it matured in 80% new French oak with a combination of Taransaud and Sylvain for twenty months. These two French coopers’ complement Vine Hill Ranch vineyards distinctive and beguiling character. Bottled, as always, without fining or filtration allowing for maximum development of mouthfeel and texture.

Vine Hill Ranch vineyard row

“Yet another example of why we all love this vineyard so much. Our 2021 Vine Hill Ranch leads with beautiful balance, grace, and length. It is almost equal parts red fruit, blue fruit, and black fruits, displaying one of the greatest Cabernet vineyards in the world. This vintage again shows the amazing mid palate and what the slightly ‘cooler’ side of South Oakville can produce. Its rounded texture and balance continue to resonate through the long silky finish. The Vine Hill Ranch wines are always my favorite ‘go to’ wines with a steak, as the mix of richness, freshness and savory-ness is a stunning pairing.”

—Jeff Ames

The 2021 growing season began with January, February, and March rains totaling close to eight inches. The ground water led to more canopy than the previous warm 2020, but all our sites are well drained and did not require significant canopy management. The summer was dry and uneventful. By harvest, the clusters were uniformly small, providing high skin to juice ratio, giving us wines with structure wrapped around a core of dense fruit. In the barrel, these wines evolved slowly gaining momentum and complexity over the 20-month elevage. It is an outstanding vintage from any vantage point.

Vine Hill Ranch Vineyard Map
appellationOakville, Napa Valley
soilDeep, alluvial gravel Bale and Perkins to weathered volcanic Boomer and Hambright
climateWarm days tempered by coastal fog and mountain shadows
topographyGentle slope rolling up to the Mayacamas Mountains, from 202 to 255 feet
vines70 planted acres of Cabernet Sauvignon clones 337 and 4; Petit Verdot clone 400