Pellet Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa Valley

Pellet Estate’s history begins when Henry Alphonse Pellet was hired by John Patchett in 1859 and became Napa County’s second commercial winemaker. He followed in the footsteps of Charles Krug, who was the first and started the year before. H.A. Pellet purchased 45 acres of his own land in 1863 and began producing wine to be sold to consumers; other vineyard owners in the area were just making wine for personal consumption.

Today Pellet Estate’s winemaking team consists of legendary Napa winemaker Tom Rinaldi and Eric Risch, director of winemaking. The two have excellent division of labor as Eric oversees the estate’s portfolio, day to day winery operations, and sales and marketing. He enjoys every opportunity to connect with customers at events all over the country, and appreciates hosting visitors for tastings and vineyard tours, often discussing his passion for wine and food. Eric currently serves on the Board of Directors for Appellation St. Helena, helping promote and advance St. Helena grape growing and winemaking.

Tom Rinaldi is the winemaker and responsible for all winemaking, harvest, and blending decisions. Tom was raised in San Francisco but in his youth made frequent wine buying trips to Napa Valley on his motorcycle. After a four-year stint in the navy, he attended University of California at Davis and began his winemaking career at Freemark Abbey. He then became founding winemaker at Duckhorn Vineyards and subsequently launched Provenance Vineyards and Hewitt Vineyard, the later receiving number one wine in California and Top Ten in Wine Spectator for its 2013 Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.    

Risch grew up in the wine business; he tells Robb Report, “My grandfather imported Mosel and Rheingau wines from back in the 1930’s thru the 1960’s. My father also caught the wine bug, and he raised me from a very small child about wine and fine food. My parents and their friends created the first AVA in the USA, formed many wine clubs, including the St. Louis chapter of the International Wine & Food Society. Wine has been a part of my life since I was a child.”

Pellet Estate’s vineyard is 3.9 acres and is in excellent company with neighboring vineyards including those farmed by Anomaly and Chase Cellars as well as the Beckstoffer Dr. Crane, Bourne, and Las Piedras parcels. The first vintage of Pellet Estate was 2010 and besides its Cabernet Sauvignon Pellet produces two styles of Chardonnay from the Sun Chase Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap, one unoaked and the other barrel fermented. Although Pellet Estate does not have a formal tasting room, tastings can be made by appointment.

Pellet Estate – 2019 Pellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

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