Quintessa: Vintage Variation in California's Napa Valley

Tasting Quintessa from Rutherford, Napa Valley

© Emma K. Morris

Tasting Quintessa from Rutherford, Napa Valley

Tasting Quintessa from Rutherford, Napa Valley

© Emma K. Morris

Planted on Virgin Land

Quintessa was planted on virgin land in the 1989 by the Huneeus Family and has been farmed organically from the start. The first vintage on the estate was in 1994 and conversion to biodynamics began in 1996. 

The estate is in Rutherford, between the Vaca Mountains and the Napa River, on rather hilly terrain that offers various soils of volcanic origin: rhyolitic tuff, quartz with traces of iron and obsidian. These formations give such elegance to the wines. The valley floors are alluvial loams and clays and lend plushness. What this mini-vertical showed perfectly, was the vintage variation of the Valley. 

Older Vines

"I am a firm believer that the key to old age is to lead a healthy life,” says Quintessa’s viticulturist Rodrigo Soto, who worked in Chile as well as in California. While this may be interpreted as a typically Californian outlook and lifestyle, Soto was actually talking about the biodynamic farming practices in the vineyard. Now that the vines have crossed their 30-year age threshold, Soto observes a real “consistency.” 

Vintage Variation

Winemaker Rebekah Wineburg notes that “one of our challenges is how to manage heat – how to get freshness without heat character.” This is something she manages rather well – both in warmer and in cooler vintages.

Soto adds that “we are not afraid of acid,” and the freshness of the wines is what makes them so expressive. 2017, 2015 and 2013 were considered warmer vintages while 2016, 2014 and 2010 fit a cooler paradigm. Here is what they taste like: