Our Story

Phoenix Ranch Wines | Our Story

Back in 1997, Richard, Brian and Janet Phoenix began a small project at the base of Atlas Peak in Napa Valley called Phoenix Ranch. With the help of several friends in the wine industry, the Phoenix Phamily planted 5 acres of Syrah in 1998 to three distinctive clones: Durrell, Syrah Noir and Estrella River. Each clone produces a unique wine on its own, but blended together they can produce a wine of depth and complexity. In 2003 we planted nearly an acre of Viognier to co-ferment with Syrah, a tradition that has been practiced in the Rhone Valley for ages.

The Original Plan

The original plan was to farm distinctive Syrah grapes to sell to small local artisanal wineries and to not produce our own wines. In line with our original plan, Ehren Jordan of Failla Wines produced the first vintage of Syrah from the Phoenix Ranch Vineyard in 2001 and has continued to craft outstanding wines from Phoenix Ranch ever since. But by 2003 we realized the potential of our vineyard site — and the desire to make our own wine overpowered our sense of reason!

We enlisted the help of a good friend and outstanding winemaker, Cathy Corison, to make our first Phoenix Ranch Syrah. The wines were crafted to pay homage to the old world Syrahs produced in the northern Rhone of France, displaying an elegance and connection to the soil. The minerality is balanced by the full bodied fruit that the California sun and fog provides.

Viognier Happens

2005 produced our first crop of Viognier fruit from the Phoenix Ranch. After blending some into the Syrah, we decided to make a small amount on its own. The Viognier turned out to be spectacular. Starting with the 2006 vintage, Phoenix Ranch will produce a small amount of Viognier each year.