A Closer Look at Hestan Vineyards
Love is a funny thing, it’s blinding and often shields its admirer from the truth. So I approached this Throwdown (more information about the Throwdown at the end of this post) with caution and hesitation not to get too over zealous about my love, Hestan’s Meyer Cabernet. Yes, I love this wine. And I mean love. But I hestitated because the competition was fierce. Hestan competed against some of the California heavy weights including Nickel & Nickel, Hess, Newton, Darioush, Chappellet, and Paul Hobbs…come on I didn’t even think they had a chance. Was it in my opinion the best selection of wines at the Throwdown – yes – but we all know how sometimes names and reputations can cloud opinions. Well love defeated all and Hestan took home the championship of our California round of the Ultimate Throwdown Series. So here’s a closer look at that vineyard and their fantastic wines.
About the Winery
Hestan Vineyards is owned by the Cheng family (Mr. Cheng is the CEO of the Meyer Corporation, the world’s second largest cookware company with brands including Circulon, KitchenAid, and Faberware). The vineyards have a combined acreage of 52 total with low yielding fruit including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. They are located on the eastern slopes of Napa, in the secluded Gordon Valley located far southeast just on the county line.
With 127 acres, 41 of which is planted with vines, the Hestan Vineyard provides a unique mix and soil and growing conditions for the vines. At an average age of 8 years, the vines are exposed to slopes, silt and rocky soils, and meticulous care by the vineyard manager, Angel Camarena, in preparation for the winemaking process.
Both the Hestan Vineyard and Meyer Vineyard wines are made from fruit sourced at the Hestan Vineyard under the production of renowned winemaker, Mark Herold. The Hestan wines are made to be powerful and robust and to display the care paid to the growing of the grapes and the terrior of the unique location of the vineyard. The second label, Meyer Vineyard, is made in the same style as the Hestan Vineyard with a bit of a smoother mouthfeel and finish. The Meyer wines are also held a bit longer before release than the Hestan Vineyard (our current vintage of the Meyer is 2005, Hestan is 2007).
Hestan also produces a third line of wines called Stephanie, named after the owners’ daughter. The wines provide an interesting complexity to the winery. The same grapes and vineyard sources are used to make the same wines, but with a different winemaker. Jeffrey Gaffner produces a Cabernet, Proprietary Red Blend, and Merlot in a much different style than Herold.
The winery only produces a few hundred cases of each wine per year, making it not the easiest wine to find. But when you find it, hold on to it…all three lines of wine are equally impressive with tremendous aging potential.
Some of my favorites:
Hestan Meyer Vineyard Cabernet, 2005
Smooth, rich and chocolaty…this wine does need some time to open up to some its true potential. Spice and wild berry add elements of complexity. 92 points Wine Spectator
Hestan Stephanie Red Wine, 2006
A traditional Bordeaux style blend aged 24 months in oak, with flavors of blueberry and clove. The signature chocolate and mocha from the fruit enter at the finish. 91 points Wine Spectator
About The Ultimate Wine Throwdown
The Ultimate Wine Throwdown is a series of wine tasting competitions hosted by Decanted Wines in Naples, Florida. Each event focuses on a different wine producing region. Eight wineries represent each region and compete for a chance to claim champion and represent their region in the Finale, hosted in December, where they will compete against the rest of the world. Winners are determined by customer votes and the wineries are selected by a team of wine experts from Decanted and their suppliers.