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Back in 1976, one could conceivably purchase and plant a vineyard in Napa Valley and not risk their livelihood in doing so. Land was a little cheaper back then! Ned Smith found a little four-acre parcel atop a mid-Valley knoll and planted Zinfandel, essentially hoping to trade his grapes for wine from local vintners. Little did he know that his hobby vineyard was sitting on the sweet spot for Napa Valley Cabernet, something that Ned's son Jeff discovered after his father had passed away in 1990. Jeff basically needed a way to keep the land in his family, and he hit the mother lode in the process. In evaluating the property for a re-plant, Jeff enlisted the help of the dean of UC Davis' acclaimed viticulture program. They noted that the soil (a thin layer of dirt above solid bedrock) exposure and uniquely elevated position between Hwy 29 and the Silverado Trail begged for Cabernet Sauvignon. With neighboring properties like Vineyard 29, Grace Family and Colgin's Tychson Hill vineyard, they were convinced that the expensive and time-consuming process would be worth the effort. They were right. The Hourglass vineyard takes its name from its position at the "pinch" of Napa Valley's unique hourglass shape. It draws cooling breezes both from the south and west, allowing Jeff and his team (most notably rock star winemaker Bob Foley, also of Pride Mountain, Switchback Ridge and Robert Foley) to pick when the grapes are perfectly ripe. There's simply no need to rush things on their property. The tiny, concentrated berries from Jeff's vines are the kind of raw materials that winemakers everywhere dream of seeing on the crush pad, and the vineyard is all too happy to comply. Jeff's wine has received some eye-popping scores from the likes of Robert Parker (and the feverish bidding at Auction Napa Valley for his wares is also a good barometer of quality). Here's your chance to secure one of Napa's brightest new stars… while we have it, of course. Hourglass belongs in your glass.

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6/23/2017 10:14:01 PM
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