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Hourglass Wines

Hourglass Wines The Smith family bought the six acre parcel that eventually became Hourglass in 1976. With no great aspirations to be in the wine business, Ned Smith planted four acres to his favorite wine grape, Zinfandel, with the hope of being able to trade grapes for finished wine. The vineyard fed several local Zinfandel blends until the early '90s when the vineyard was ravaged by phylloxera. With the vines needing to be replanted, Ned's son Jeff took over the management of the vineyard. Through a mutual friend, Kelly Maher, he persuaded Dr. Mark Kliewer (Dean of the viticulture program at UC Davis and one of the world's premier specialists in grape growing climates), to provide a site evaluation. After his analysis, Dr. Kliewer concluded that this location could become one of the premier Cabernet sites in Napa County. He explained that Napa Valley is generally shaped like an hourglass, and the hillside site defined the "pinch," or narrowest point of the Valley. Its unique location would provide an unusual growing climate. Of course, there could be no other name for this special place than Hourglass. Based on Dr. Kliewer's recommendations the Hourglass vineyard was replanted to Cabernet in 1992. Jeff then enlisted the help of family friend (and fellow rock band mate) Bob Foley, to craft the wines. (Yes, among many other talents, Bob is also a rockin' guitar player!) Bob has provided his deft hand to the project since its first vintage in 1997, adding Hourglass to his stable of exceptional wines. Click on Links for related websites. Jeff Smith said later, "with all the early signs in our favor, we still had no assurance we could get this piece of ground to create world class wine. As we started the project our mission statement became: To make wines that didn't suck, in the event we would have to drink them ourselves. To this day we are committed to that lofty goal, but unfortunately we have little wine for ourselves." As it turned out, in the summer of 2001 with the first case ever sold, David Stevens and Karen Williams (then the wine directors at Tra Vigne restaurant in St. Helena), included Hourglass in a 1997 flight tasting during the week of the Napa Valley Wine Auction. The flight included Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, and Bryant Family. Tasted by 25 collectors and wine trade professionals, Hourglass never ranked lower than third in the flight! This tasting set in motion an avalanche of interest in Hourglass, which has been growing steadily ever since.

The Hourglass vineyard is located at the "pinch" of the constricting Napa Valley, about two miles north of the town of St. Helena in the heart of the St. Helena AVA (American Viticulture Area) . In a zip code known for stellar Cabernet, its neighbors include among others, Grace Family, Colgin's Tychson Hill, the Ahern vineyard, Duckhorn, Freemark Abbey, and Vineyard 29.

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Address Web Social
1104 Adams Street, St. Helena, CA, US, 94574 Email:
Phone: 707-968-9332 Web:
Fax: 707-968-9337
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2003 saw Hourglass move production from Pride Mountain to our new facility with Robert Foley and Switchback Ridge. As a result, the ’03 vintage did not get oak treatment until much later in the aging cycle. Early tastings indicated an immature wine with elevated sweet oak profile and lighter texture (absent were the traditional Hourglass markers). Recent tastings show that in the past six months this wine has integrated beautifully, picking up texture and aromatics, thus making it somewhat of a late bloomer. The signature Hourglass aromatics of black licorice, pomegranate, and eucalyptus, are now well integrated with the classic sweet coffee/toffee of our oak regime. The ’03 vintage is not as massive texturally as 2002, but is more along the lines of the traditional elegance and balance that Hourglass is known for. In short, another beautiful representation of this special vineyard and Bob Foley’s deft hand as winemaker.


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