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Long known for his innovative spirit and passion for quality, Joe Phelps pioneered a number of "firsts" in the early years of the winery. The 1974 Insignia — released in the spring of 1978 — was the first Bordeaux-style blend produced in California under a proprietary label. The release of the 1974 Syrah in 1977 sparked industry-wide interest in a remarkable French varietal whose plantings in California had disappeared and been virtually forgotten for over half a century. And in 1990, after years of research, a whole new family of Rhône-style wines was introduced which today includes Syrah, Viognier and a Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blend called Le Mistral.

The architecture of the winery reflects the same commitment to quality and attention to detail as the wines crafted within. A massive Wisteria-covered trellis made from 100-year-old recycled bridge timbers dominates the entranceway, visually anchoring the redwood building to the surrounding terrain. From the tree-shaded back terrace, visitors are offered a spectacular view of Spring Valley, St. Helena, and the Mayacamas Mountains to the west.