Greg Melanson first came to the wine country on vacation at age 18. After graduation from U.S.C. in 1975 he moved to San Francisco to start a legal document management company. During those early years he learned to fly and skydive at the Pope Valley Parachute Ranch. Greg caught the bug for both soaring and wine which prompted him to purchase a 10 acre vineyard in Calistoga at age 25. The vineyard was under contract with the Napa Valley Cooperative Winery. Greg recalls “in those days you found out how much your grapes were worth when you received a check.“ His weekends were consumed with flying gliders at the Calistoga Soaring Center and exploring the Napa Valley. Weekdays were spent running his document management company which Greg took public in 1996. In his mid 30’s Greg sold his Calistoga vineyard and purchased a vineyard on Pritchard Hill. He now commands a premium for his fruit and is serious about making world-class cabernet sauvignon. “My how things have changed from the early days” he says. From over 30 years of soaring above it Greg has recorded a birds-eye perspective of the evolution of the Napa Valley. His passion for flight has not waivered; he maintains commercial and ATP ratings in various types of aircraft inducing helicopters and is often seen flying a helicopter above Pritchard Hill. Jeff Fontanella has been crafting wine in the Napa Valley for 12 years. After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, Jeff began his winemaking career working in the cellar of Opus One. Soon after, he took a position at one of Napa’s great cult wineries, Saddleback Cellars, where he was able to hone his stylistic approach to winemaking and reinforce his technical training under the tutelage of Nils Venge. Working hand-in-hand with our vineyard manager, Jeff is intimately involved with the practices used in the vineyards. His aim is to extract the true potential of the Melanson Vineyard through the delicate and strategic process of shepherding the grapes from crush to bottle. Stylistically, Jeff uses a variety of barrel profiles and fermentation and aging techniques to create a multi-faceted wine that is approachable early and will evolve ever-gracefully over time. Called one of “The Next Napa Superstars”, Jeff is the recipient of numerous 90 point ratings from Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator. We are honored to have Jeff Fontanella crafting our wines. Vineyard Manager John Arns has been tending our vineyard since the early 1990s. Years of farming our steep slopes have given him an intimate understanding of Pritchard Hill’s rugged terroir. Working hand-in-hand with our Winemaker, John’s aim is to raise grapes fitting for our ultra-premium wines. Our estate is one of a handful of exceptional vineyards that share an enchanted slope on the rugged eastern ridges of the Napa Valley called Pritchard Hill. This 42-acre property and 10.5 acre vineyard sit in peaceful isolation on a boulder-strewn hillside with remarkable views of Lake Hennessey and the Valley floor below. Embracing the rugged terroir, we are committed to working with the assets Mother Nature has given us: rich Sobrante Loam soils loaded with volcanic rock, elevations averaging 1,200 feet and distinct southern and western exposures. The gift of elevation places our vineyards above the fog line and allows them to receive maximum sun exposure throughout the day providing even ripening.
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