INCEPTION: An Act, Process, or Instance of Beginning
Welcome to Hartwell Estate Vineyards! The moment Bob saw this beautiful hillside, he knew this land—along with a lot of hard work!— would yield the caliber of wines he enjoyed as an avid collector. After years spent exploring vineyard land in every corner of California, Bob concluded that there was no better wine region than the Napa Valley, no better climate than that of the Stags Leap District, and no better terrain in that district than the dramatic southern slopes of Wappo Hill.
This area was originally settled by the Wappo tribe, but by the time Bob came along in 1986 the property was owned by Harry Sees, heir to the Sees Candy fortune. Harry owned half of the mountain—Robert Mondavi owned the other half. Bob purchased the estate from Harry in 1986, brought in Scottish Highland cattle to keep the grasses in check, and later worked with Blanca to remodel the main residence. We started the vineyards with a single acre of Bosche Clone Cabernet Sauvignon at the top of the hillside in proximity to the residence, using budwood provided by our friend Dick Grace. Dick also lent us the use of his winemaking facilities at Grace Family and helped tout our wines in the early days. Our little vineyard saw its first harvest in 1990, and after 22 months in new French oak chateau barrels, the first Hartwell Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was released!
The response was enthusiastic, and the wine sold out immediately. But even more important, our inaugural release established the tradition of quality and style Bob had been hoping for. We planted a few more acres with different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, and by 1993 we had a good following for our wines and the time had come to dig into the hillside to build a winery and caves. Under the guidance of Blanca, construction began in 1997 and was completed by harvest 1999. Nature and a perfectly engineered cave gave us ideal humidity and a constant temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit without air conditioning.
Following decades of producing much-lauded wines at the exclusive estate, Robert (Bob) Hartwell passed away in 2016, but his legacy remains. The production facility recently transitioned to new ownership as the Hartwell Estate circles back to its roots, retaining only the “original vineyard” of 1990—the two acres that reflect the best of Hartwell production.
We have spent many great years with you in our facility and enjoyed every tasting, event and friendship developed there.