Location, Location, Location
Provenance Vineyards, as the name suggests, is all about what goes on in the vineyard. Winemakers Tom Rinaldi and Chris Cooney have developed close grower relations and spend a great deal of time walking the vineyards. Their minimal intervention during winemaking ensures that each wine shows off the unique personality of its origin. The key to their success is the time and energy they put into the only thing that truly matters in wine: the land.
Indeed, provenance means “origin” or “source,” and can be used to refer to the complete record of ownership that establishes an artwork’s authenticity beyond question. In winemaking, provenance points to a wine’s origins – how one can trace what is in the glass directly back to the vineyard. This name was chosen for the winery because all of its releases are made from grapes that come from hallowed ground in the winemaking world. In other words, the resulting wines are works of art in the bottle because they clearly show the uniqueness of their origins.
Provenance’s vineyards, whether they are owned directly by the winery or by some of the valley’s best growers, are historic and well-known sites. Most winemakers never encounter vineyards of this quality during their careers; the winemakers at Provenance have access to several. These include the Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard, Provenance Vineyards’ Rutherford estate, the Three Palms Vineyard in Calistoga, the Beckstoffer Las Amigas Vineyard in Carneros, and the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville, which has been producing internationally recognized, award-winning Cabernets since 1889.
Adjacent to the winery itself is the Hewitt Vineyard, first planted more than 130 years ago, and from which only one wine is made: the limited-release Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. Rather than using other varietals as part of a blend, Tom Rinaldi uses the best grapes from a variety of clones in the fifty-eight-acre vineyard to achieve each year’s bottling. Its celebrated, enticing note of violet is a hallmark of the vineyard, not present in wines from other Rutherford locations.
Tasting Provenance wines is something special. Unlike many other wineries, Provenance’s property evokes Old Napa the minute you move away from the highway. The red “farmhouse” that greets you is surrounded by vineyards and an extensive lawn, which is how 19th-century winemakers throughout the valley laid out their winery homesteads. Inside, the tasting room is bright and airy, with high ceilings and an art-gallery feel. The intimacy of the room is accented by the floor, which is made from the barrelheads and staves from 960 barrels from the winery’s first vintage, and by a large window that overlooks the goings-on in the barrel room.
Provenance is well known for its Cabernets and Merlots, but a number of extremely small bottlings can’t be found elsewhere. These include the aforementioned Beckstoffer To Kalon Cab – do not miss out! – as well as library releases of small-lot Merlots and aged Cabernets, the Bordeaux-style Winemaker’s Reserve Blend, and the delicious Ruby Cabernet Port. We come to Napa for wines with a certain attitude, for wines that let us know they came from one exact special spot. The winemakers at Provenance Vineyards, thanks to the quality of their vineyards, produce wines that do just that. Enjoy!