Longtime local clan specializes in tannic hillside Cabernets.
The family behind Piña Napa Valley goes back a rare eight generations in these parts – Bluford Stice, the first relative to settle here, arrived via wagon train in 1856. Bluford’s son made wine for Inglenook a century-plus ago, and other relatives on the family’s maternal side grew grapes on Howell Mountain and in Rutherford. The first Piñas settled in Rutherford in the 1920s, having come from Spain via Hawaii.
Well known locally for its vineyard-management company, the Piña family makes a half dozen 100% Cabernets under its own label. The Piñas, who farm organically, adapt their approach to suit the microclimates and terrain—valley floor, hilltop, or in between—of their clients’ properties. For land the Piñas acquire themselves or lease long-term, they prefer foothill and mountain locations with good drainage. From Yountville in the southern Napa Valley to Howell Mountain in the north, many of their vineyards face west. This orientation allows the Cabernet grapes to ripen more fully in the afternoon summer sun.
Because winemaker Anna Monticelli displays a light touch with the Cabernets, a tasting here allows guests to experience how specific soil types—the Firehouse Vineyard’s volcanic ones in Rutherford, say, or Wolff Vineyard’s sandier ones in Yountville—affect flavor, tannins, and mouthfeel.
Since reopening in mid-2020 following Napa County’s Covid-19 lockdown, the winery conducts laid-back no-frills tastings on a lawn outside the barrel-aging room. At $20 very reasonably priced for the Napa Valley, they usually begin with a Chardonnay made from grapes grown in the Oak Knoll District, between downtown Napa and Yountville, followed by three Cabernets.
Why go: family-owned winery; laid-back no-frills tastings; winemaker’s light touch allows full expression of vineyard characteristics.
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This story originally appeared online in 2017; it was fact-checked and updated in 2020.