Napa Valley, California – March 27, 2019 – Burgess Cellars excites consumers with true fundamentals: hillside vineyards and proven grape varieties. The 47-year old Howell Mountain, family winery has re-focused a portion of their vineyards on heritage varieties in its pre-prohibition vineyard known as their 1880 Estate Vineyard and James Burgess’ Haymaker Vineyard.
“Our history is an embarrassment of riches,” says Steven Burgess, president and second generation vintner. His father Tom Burgess founded Burgess Cellars in 1972 when he purchased a 19th-century winery and vineyard on the Howell Mountain hillside.
“All Napa Valley vineyards are of a certain level of quality, but few are as storied or as special as these historic hillside vineyards,” shares Steven. “Historians and county documents show our site was originally planted to vine in about 1880. The late 19th century marks Napa’s most important time period when the European immigrants planted vineyards where they knew vines grow best, the hillsides. ‘Valley floors were for corn and nuts, grapes deserve the hillsides’ was their wisdom.”
The hillside vineyards are currently managed by vineyard manager James Burgess and winemaker Kelly Woods. They are located between 600-1200 feet on the slopes of Howell Mountain. In the winery’s YouTube series On the Mountainside, Woods often walksthe 1880 Estate Vineyard to demonstrate historic hillside winemaking and grape growing.
“It’s so humbling to be able to work with a vineyard that is one of the oldest in the valley.” says Woods. “It’s my honor to keep the tradition of excellence in grape growing and wine making at the 1880 Estate Vineyard going so that it will continue to be known as a premiere vineyard for centuries to come!”
The team renewed a focus on heritage varieties across its two Howell Mountain hillside estate vineyards. Zinfandel was replanted in 2017 after a long hiatus. The hillside exposure, high elevation and volcanic soils tame this difficult and un-even ripening variety with dappled sunlight all day long. Burgess expects the first release to be the 2020 vintage in 2023.
Petite Sirah has been produced since at least the 1950s in these vineyards, perhaps back into the 1880s. Burgess released Petite Sirah wines in the 1970s, but then used it as a blender until recently. The reaction and excitement about the Petite Sirah as a single varietal wine was so positive, Burgess doubled Petite Sirah plantings at Haymaker. The variety has been in the background, but will now be in the forefront as a proud heritage variety, with a rich and savory, ripe palate. The 2014 Petite Sirah, $50, was recently released and is available at the winery and online.
Petite Sirah and Zinfandel from hillside vineyards in the area, including Burgess, are known for being outstanding examples of what these varieties can be. “The hillside terroir brings out the absolute best in them.These varieties may go in and out of fashion, but their success here does not sway. Napa hillside history in a bottle!” says Steven Burgess.
Burgess Cellars recently received its Napa Green Certified Winery certification, after confirming at least 100 practices from reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions to increasing water efficiency.
Today visitors seek out Burgess Cellars for its genuine-winery experience. The Mountainside Tasting Room, with panoramic vistas of Napa Valley, is perched over the grapevines of the 1880 Estate Vineyard. To visit or purchase wine: https://burgesscellars.com
About Burgess Cellars:
Burgess Cellars has been family owned and crafting wines with mountain distinction since 1972 on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. When our founder Tom Burgess purchased the 1880’s era winery in 1972 he was labelled a Napa Valley pioneer. Today, the second generation is refining Tom’s legacy. Brothers Steven Burgess and James Burgess took over as President and Vineyard Manager respectively. In 2013, Winemaker Kelly Woods, a UC Davis graduate, completed the new team, and together the trio has fined-tuned the vineyards and cellar to highlight mountain grapes. The new direction of the estate is taking Burgess Cellars to the pinnacle of Napa Valley wine quality. At almost 1000 feet, far over the valley floor, we produce wines from our two estate hillside vineyards, 1880 Estate Vineyard and Haymaker Vineyard. Our hillside grapes are smaller, which produce wines with more concentrated flavors and tannins, varietal intensity and excellent aging properties. A visit to Burgess Cellars begins with a panoramic vista that offers real perspective on the Napa Valley. One can see the length of the Mayacamas range, from Calistoga to the hills beyond Napa.