USA – Joseph Phelps Vineyards
In the late 60s, Joseph Phelps was running one of the largest construction companies in the US when he won the bid to build Souverain Winery (now Rutherford Hill) located a few miles outside of St. Helena. Enamoured with the beautiful Napa Valley and contemplating a career change, in 1973 he bought the 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch in Spring Valley, and began planting vineyards. The winery was completed in 1974 and that same year the first Syrah was made, the first grapes were crushed at the new facility and the first Insignia was produced. It was a period of unparalleled activity, creativity, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and risk-taking and it put Joe Phelps on the map of top Napa Valley wine producers.
Nearly four decades later, the flagship wine, Insignia, is recognized as one of the world’s great wines. Twenty nine of 34 vintages have been rated ninety or more points by various wine publications. From 1990 to 2007, the average score from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate was 94.5 pts., with the lowest score still a fabulous 91. The 2002 vintage was “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator magazine, and the 2007 vintage has been rated 98 points by Robert Parker and 96 points by Wine Spectator magazine.