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Walnut Creek Magazine

Provenance Vineyards Seeks, and Finds, the Best Expression of the Napa Valley

Mar 07, 2017 08:26AM ● By Fran Miller

Just 30 miles long and a few miles wide, Napa Valley’s verdant landscape is home to approximately 475 wineries. Wine experts throughout the world thirst for the area’s acclaimed varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc. With so many vintners competing for shout-outs, what distinguishes one bottle from another? What makes the experts sniff, swirl, sip, and take notice? More importantly, what attracts loyalists to a certain label?

At Provenance Vineyards situated in the heart of the Napa Valley, it starts with a sense of place. And Provenance is fortunate to source their grapes from many hallowed ‘places.’ The famed Hewitt Vineyard, for instance, source of Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon crafted by the Provenance team, is a 58-acre parcel nearly adjacent to Provenance on the celebrated Rutherford Bench that since 1880 has consistently yielded superior grapes. Provenance’s own 12-acre Estate Vineyard supplies all the grapes for their superior Sauvignon Blancs. The historic Vineyard George III, located across the valley along the Silverado Trail, is the source for Provenance’s Cabernet Rutherford and Estate Cabernet. The renowned Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, first planted in the 19th century and source for wines that have been winning awards since the Paris World’s Fair of 1889, yields the grapes for Provenance’s To Kalon Cabernet. And the Valley’s exceptional Three Palms Vineyard produces the winery’s uncommonly robust Three Palms Vineyard Merlot. But it’s a stellar combination of grapes from several of these vineyards that has created an elixir that’s got the wine world buzzing.

Trevor Durling

Fortitude, Provenance’s recently released 2013 vintage varietal composition Cabernet Sauvignon, is, according to Provenance winemaker Trevor Durling, “the best expression of the entire Napa Valley.” The wine’s layered complexity is derived from a grape combo of 47% from Hewitt, 34% from To Kalon, and 11% from the iron rich, volcanic soil of Polaris on the east side of the revered Howell Mountain. The 8% balance is from a vineyard on Crystal Springs Road at the base of Howell Mountain. Add to this illustrious mix a simply fantastic vintage year. “If there is an ideal vintage, this was it,” says Durling of the 2013 growing season that was noteworthy for its low rainfall and dry, warm spring and summer. Perfect harvest time weather also aided in Fortitude’s flavors. But of course, atmospheric conditions are only part of a wine’s equation; a wine’s true artistry is the result of winemaker knowledge and technique, and the University of California, Davis trained Durling relies on the finest traditions to extract elegant, powerful wines that express their vineyard origins. Fortitude is his shining example. Saturated with essences of blackberry liqueur, dried black cherry, dark chocolate, sweet pipe tobacco, and caramel, Fortitude is a huge wine that works now, and will be amazing a few years down the road.

Provenance’s wines, including Fortitude and the Hewitt label, can be enjoyed at their Rutherford winery, just off of Highway 29. The red barn-like structure is unmistakable, as is the newly installed art work ‘Spriale,’ fabricated with 32 gleaming aluminum columns arranged in a spiral form measuring 24 feet in height. By artist Gordon Huether, the work symbolizes the passage of time necessary in cultivating both great wine and great art, and welcomes visitors to Provenance’s casually elegant (and dog friendly) tasting room and expansive outdoor patio overlooking the valley. “We are a culture of yes,” says tasting room associate Jady Grad of Provenance’s warm, welcoming, and inclusive atmosphere. “Whether our guests are wine experts or novices, we work with each to craft the best possible wine tasting and club member experiences. Our wines may be complex, but the experiences we provide are not.” Guests may choose from a variety of wine tastings. The Classic offers an introduction to the Provenance portfolio. The Reserve offers tastes of limited small production Cabernet Sauvignons, and the Patio Tasting features a flight of four wines to complement the beautiful views and lounge atmosphere.

Hewitt Vineyard Cabernets can also be taste tested at Provenance in a private setting with a personal wine educator. Consistently recognized by wine media and consumers as one of the leading Rutherford cult wines, with an incredible track record of 92-point and higher scores, and placement as the #4 wine on the annual Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2013. This tasting includes both current vintage and library wines, a tour of the winery and sampling of a future Hewitt Vintage. And don’t miss ‘Wine Down Wednesday,’ Provence’s popular third Wednesday of the month open house from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. featuring local food trucks, the winery’s newest releases, games, and live music.

The word 'Provenance' (rhymes with renaissance) is derived from the French language, and means "origin," or "source." A provenance is the record of ownership of a piece of art from its creation to the present. Connoisseurs use a provenance as a guarantee of a work's authenticity. In geology, provenance is the source of materials that make up an area's sediment. The origin of a vineyard's soil is critical since the soil drives the wine's quality, flavors and aromas. Provenance selected their name to reflect their goal of producing distinctive fine wines that are authentic works of art. “Our job is to make sure that each of our wines is balanced, complex, exciting and representative of its terroir,” says Durling. By all critical accounts, they are succeeding.

For reservations and other inquiries, call: (707) 968-3633. For groups of 10 or more, reservations are required. Open Daily 10:00AM – 5:00PM

1695 St. Helena Hwy South, Rutherford, CA 94573