The Bright Angel winemaking process

Bright Angel has a unique relationship with a Napa Valley custom winery that allows us to buy grapes from world-class vineyards and work with one of Napa’s most experienced winemakers. The Wine Foundry is located south of Napa and works with some of the most well-known vineyards in wine country, including Stagecoach, Georges III, Monte Rosso, Hyde and Rodgers Creek. Patrick Saboe is Director of Wine Making at The Wine Foundry and our winemaker. Bright Angel has become one of The Wine Foundry’s largest customers and has early access to all of their vineyards. We have a philosophy that certain grapes are best grown in specific subclimates of Napa and Sonoma.

After we select our varietals and vineyards, we work very closely with our winemaker, Patrick Saboe, on every aspect of making our wine. We are making decisions regarding fermentation, how long to age the wine before blending, the types of tanks/barrels to age the wine and finally when to blend the wine. We have certain philosophies for blending each varietal. We age Sauvignon Blanc 4-6 months in a concrete egg. We age Chardonnay 15-18 months half in new French oak and half in neutral barrels.  Pinot Noir is aged 15-18 months in once used barrels and finally our Cabernet is ages 24-30 months in a combination of new and used barrels.

For blending, we sit down with Patrick and blend each individual wine to make them in the style that we feel our customers will enjoy.  Though we have some training, we are not professionally educated winemakers. We feel this gives us a unique advantage. We have a normal person’s pallet! We think this is the key to not overengineering our wines.

For each barrel, we start with our base wine and then adjust the wine to come up with our final blend.  We can add different varietals, we can add the same varietal from different vintages or sometimes we add the same varietal from different vineyards. We have a lot of options and flexibility because of the size and the buying power of The Wine Foundry.

After blending, the wine is ready to be bottled but not quite ready for you. The final step is letting our wines sit in the bottle for 3-12 months depending on the varietal. This allows the wine to settle down from the bottling process and gives the wine time to integrate and soften in the bottle.

Finally, our wines are made to age. Sauvignon Blanc has a drinking window of 5-7 years, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir 10-12 years and our Cabernets 15+ years.

There is a lot that goes into every bottle of Bright Angel wine, but in the end, it’s meant to be enjoyed with family and friends.

A brief look at the vineyards.

stagecoach vineyards-Bright Angel Wines

STAGECOACH VINEYARD

With a bandit, a water witch and the removal of 1 billion tons of rock, the story of Stagecoach Vineyard sounds borrowed from mythology. No less dramatic than the herculean efforts to cultivate terrain once considered unplantable, the astonishing quality of fruit from this awe-inspiring property completes the legend. Stagecoach climbs between 900 and 1700 feet up the southern face of Pritchard Hill onto Atlas Peak. The site is planted to a wide range of varietals and rootstocks and features several distinct microclimates.

Our Cabernet Franc is from the most sought-after section – Block I. This stretch of low yielding vines delivers unparalleled aromatics of red fruit and soft berry, which gradually gives way to refined minerality and light herbaceous notes for wine of unparalleled elegance.

In recent years, a fresh breath has begun to re-examine tired assumptions about grape varietals. Once reserved for blending tiny amounts into Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, the time for varietally designated bottlings of Petit Verdot has arrived.

We’re honored to source our ‘PV’ from Stagecoach, one of the mostly highly-acclaimed properties on the planet. Our block delivers a mouth-filling beast of dense black fruit and haunting ink backed by rip-roaring tannins. Petit is anything but small. This is an epic, head-turning statement worthy of long term aging.

Broken Rock Vineyard Bright Angel Wines

BROKEN ROCK VINEYARD

Napa legend, Bill Hill, pioneered modern viticulture in Napa Valley by introducing high density plantings and developing rootstock and grape clone combinations that became textbook practices throughout the region. Not one to rest on laurels, his vineyard revolution remains in full swing at Broken Rock Vineyard, where Bill runs continuous trials in search of grape perfection. Wines from Bill Hill’s properties, including Broken Rock, consistently appear in the WS annual Top 100.

The storied Broken Vineyard lies just off Silverado Trail at the foot of Atlas Peak. Western exposure on the slope offers plenty of ripening afternoon sun, thus delivering the best of both worlds – brawny hillside muscle balanced by rich valley floor flavors of black of red fruit across the nose and palate. The Wine Foundry began sourcing from Broken Rock starting with our first vintage, and we proudly offer this client favorite year after year.

foxtrot vineyard bright angel wines

FOXTROT VINEYARD

The Wine Foundry proudly holds exclusive access to fruit from Mark Whiting’s sustainably farmed gem, nestled off the Oakville Crossroad behind Swanson and Groth.

The Oakville AVA’s mid-valley location enjoys brisk air flow delivered by morning fog, which peels off to reveal ripening afternoon sun. This cycle yields highly concentrated and hedonistic interpretations of the grape.

Bold, dramatic and oozing with confidence, Foxtrot Vineyard delivers quintessential Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon with a robust palate assembled around a hearty core of cherry, black fruit and spice.

G3 Vineyard Bright Angel wines Napa valley

G3 VINEYARD

One of the most historic and sought after properties in the world – G3, as we call it, was originally owned and planted by Thomas Rutherford in 1895. Georges de Latour, founder of Beaulieu, purchased the site in 1928 and it became the home to BV’s Rutherford Cabernets made by elite winemaker, Andre Tchelistcheff, throughout the

‘60’s and‘70’s. The site was then purchased by Beckstoffer Vineyards in 1988. Andy, Dave and team have replanted using modern clones, trellising and spacing to yield optimum quality. Wines from this field consistently score in the high 90s.

Opulent, rich and full-bodied with black currant, cedar, cassis, black-licorice and cherry complimented by earthy flavors associated with Rutherford Dust.

melrose vineard napa bright angel wine

MELROSE VINEYARD

Located on the northern edge of Rutherford, Melrose sits directly across the street from the beginning of the St. Helena AVA. Acquired by Beckstoffer in 1973, our block was replanted by renowned Viticulturist and Beckstoffer Head of Vineyard

Operations, Dave Michul, in 2013 using the same techniques and farming practices utilized at the company’s famed Heritage properties (To Kalon, Las Piedras, Dr. Crane, Missouri Hopper and Georges III). Despite being situated at the northern end of Rutherford, Melrose reveals characteristics more often associated with Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. The heavier clay soils, result in a more nuanced, reserved interpretation of the grape with a lush blend of red and black fruits and optimum balance of acidity to tannin.

RODGERS CREEK VINEYARD

Rodgers Creek Vineyard is a 297 acre ranch (83.5 acres planted) sitting as a crown jewel on the very eastern edge of the Petaluma Gap. Planted in 2001, the vines have an east-west orientation, allowing the canopy to protect the fruit from steady winds on the hill. The site is about 600 feet above sea level and is so uniquely located that the steep, terraced blocks get plenty of afternoon sun and wind. Constant wind and fog from the east meet temperate weather from the Bay, providing us with later ripening Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The yields from this mountain site are just around 2.5 tons per acre. Did we mention the view? It’s incredible, a clear day reveals 180 degrees views from Napa to San Francisco, Marin and Petaluma.

MORGAEN LEE VINEYARD

Nestled across the valley floor, Morgaen Lee thrives from a daily ritual of crisp mornings that bow to sunbathed afternoons. The pattern delivers a flourish of explosive flavor and eye popping acidity. Planted to clone 14, this satiny, mineral driven Sauvignon Blanc is reminiscent of New Zealand interpretations. We are extremely pleased to collaborate with vineyard owner Andrew Hoxsey to produce one of Napa Valley’s best Sauvignon Blancs.

The translation in bottle generally yields citrus flavors and mineral essence layered with tropical fruit, melon and a hint of grapefruit on the nose

HYDE VINEYARD

Larry Hyde founded and planted the 179 acre vineyard in 1979, after his father, Richard Hyde Sr. helped Larry purchase the property. Larry and his family have since cemented their family name and reputation as premier growers of Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Carneros AVA. A true family business, Larry’s sons Peter and Christopher, grew up on the vineyard they now help to farm and manage. The location is key. Here,the soil and climate are expressed in a balanced ripening season bringing depth and structure to the palate. Hyde Vineyard Syrah wines are built around dark red fruit aromatics and mouth coating fine tannins

MONTE ROSSO VINEYARD

Monte Rosso is often lauded as the single greatest Zinfandel site anywhere, and we proudly continue the tradition for makers and drinkers of this storied varietal.

Planted in 1886, while Grover Cleveland was serving his first term as President, the site is rooted in legacy and lore. Remarkably, a number of the original 140-year-old vines are in great shape and continue to deliver Zinfandel of unprecedented character year after year. The property stairsteps some 1300 feet above sea level on Moon Mountain of the Mayacamas Range, the natural border between Sonoma and Napa.

The red volcanic soils, ground zero for hauntingly complex interpretations, yield layer upon layer of cherry cola, blackberry, and Mandarin orange, underscored by earthy hints of briar patch.