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What is an Estate Wine?

When you see the word “estate” on a wine label, the producer is providing an important clue about how the wine was made. Unlike wine label designations that have no legal meaning, such as “old vine” or “reserve,” the federal government has specific legal requirements for using the term “estate.”

If a wine is labeled as “estate grown” it means it was made only from grapes grown in a vineyard that is owned or controlled by the winery. It also means that the wine stayed on the premises during the entire production process, including fermentation, bottling and aging.

Why does this matter? The answer is simple: control. Because the grapes are grown by the winery and the wine is made entirely on the premises, an estate wine producer is in constant control of the wine’s journey from grape to glass.

Estate Grown, Produced & Bottled

At St. Supery Estate, we are proud to be an estate winery. Because of the additional resources and commitment required to operate this way, all-estate wineries are something of a rarity. Of the 550+ wineries in the Napa Valley, for example, fewer than 12 of us are 100% Estate. Some wineries may make an Estate wine, but every wine that we produce at St. Supéry is made by grapes grown by us on one of the two properties we own and manage: Dollarhide Ranch and Rutherford Estate.

A wine that was “Estate Grown, Produced & Bottled” has experienced the highest level of control possible. If you look at the back label of any St. Supery wine bottle, you’ll find that every one bears that phrase. Since we’ve been making wine from the same vineyards year after year for over 30 years, we know the property well. We have been farming the same vines using the same sustainable farming methods, so the only real difference in the bottle from year to year comes from Mother Nature. The vintage date is a marker of that season.

That’s not to say that great wines cannot be made from purchased grapes, or produced at custom-crush facilities shared by multiple wineries. They are. It’s just that maintaining a certain level of control becomes more difficult when the vines or winemaking facility are located at another site and you can’t be certain how they were farmed. With a plethora of choices in the wine aisle, it is nice to know that St. Supery Estate can deliver consistent quality and style from their Napa Valley Estate


September 21, 2020

Categories: Inside St. SupéryWinery Happenings

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