I was first introduced to Chappellett Vineyard and wines when I met Carissa Chappellet, daughter of the Donn and Molly Chappellet, her parents who founded it in 1967…..it has remained a family owned vineyard ever since and continues to have that family owned feel to it in every way despite the fact that they obviously have non-family employees.
The Chappellets’ romance with Pritchard Hill started when Donn and Molly first glimpsed its spectacular vistas, which are perched 1,200 feet above the floor of the Napa Valley. It is no doubt nothing short of serene, peaceful and magical with breathtaking views and skies.
Spurred by the notion that Bacchus loves the hills and that mountain fruit would make superior wine, Chappellet followed the advice of legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff and settled on the rocky eastern slopes of the Napa Valley. The Chappellets were the first to plant vineyards exclusively on high elevation hillsides and the second winery to be established in the Napa Valley after Prohibition.
The foundation of Chappellet winemaking program is focused on creating extraordinary age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon that expresses the unique characteristics of the fruit from Pritchard Hill. The rugged terroir of Chappellet’s vineyards produces wines with great intensity and depth, qualities that define the world’s finest wines.
Since I’m still on their mailing list, I trekked up recently for their Dragon release party, which is of their 2008 Malbec — pretty tasty. Their Cab was out of this world; it didn’t hurt that an incredibly cute French guy was serving it, nor did it hurt that they had spicy dark chocolate chunks with salt, six varieties of sheep, goat and cow’s cheeses to pair it with, almonds, cranberries, dried figs and apricots and bread.
They held their release party amidst the barrels and Carissa who is also an artist, hung her paintings (dragons) for us to view while we sampled and toured about. She is currently working on several writing projects, including a vegetarian food and wine cookbook, a book recounting her 15,000 mile bicycle trip around the world, and a children’s fantasy epic entitled The Dragon of Pritchard Hill, which takes its inspiration from Carissa’s childhood on the mountain. (this was on sale and presented at the release party).
In addition to an incredible tasting of their wines, the whole family was so welcoming, the event was quite the treat. (six kids btw). I also met Lygia Chappellet who is apparently also an artist: you can check out her work here.
Below is a shot of Carissa at the Dragon release party, surrounded by her paintings featuring her mythical tortoise dragon, a massive bottle of their newly released 2008 Malbec, and the barrels which couldn’t be more appropriate considering her equal passion for Chappellet wines.