“A truly remarkable vintage from the Napa Valley, 2019 provided ideal growing conditions for the cultivation of premium Cabernet Sauvignon. Recognized for the season’s temperate warm weather and cool nights, and absent severe heat spells, the resulting wines are noted for their richness, depth, and complexity. Having received normal precipitation within a gradually warming growing season marked by light spring rains, the season delivered a relatively light crop of exceptional quality, noted for smaller berries and heightened skin-to-juice ratios. The late season, so critical to the maturation of the crop, delivered mild temperatures and cool evenings, resulting in a vintage remarkable for its breadth, structure, and vibrant fruit character.”
95 Points Wine Spectator – “This is packed with vivid boysenberry, mulberry and black currant fruit that bursts forth with energy, while being held in check by graphite, anise and apple wood notes that lend good underlying tension. Features bramble and warm stone accents on the finish, as the fruit races through. Best from 2023 through 2038.”
93 Points Antonio Galloni – “The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is a new wine made by the Phillips family, owners of Vine Hill Ranch, and winemaker Francoise Peschon. It is without question one of the most impressive debuts I tasted this year. Silky and gracious, the 2019 is a wonderfully understated, classy Cabernet that shows the more restrained side of the year in its super-classic mid-weight feel. Cedar, tobacco and sweet floral notes add gorgeous inner perfume. With the Baker & Hamilton Cabernet, the Phillipses aim to make a wine that will work well in restaurants and retail shops, so all of the wine is sold through distribution rather than direct. You don’t have to have a Nobel Prize to figure out what the vineyard source is. Let’s leave it at that.”
The Baker & Hamilton story is one rich in California history and heritage. Long before the Phillips family, the land that would become Vine Hill Ranch boasted vineyards, and stone fruit and walnut orchards, planted as far back as 1884. Bruce’s grandfather and namesake, Bruce Kelham, purchased VHR in the mid-1950s and turned the ranch’s focus to growing grapes for superior wines. In 1978, Bob & Alex Phillips (Bruce’s parents) relocated their family to Vine Hill Ranch and dove deep into the grape growing business. They continued the development of the vineyards with the help of vineyard manager Mike Wolf, establishing a reputation for impeccable Cabernet Sauvignon and selling fruit to many notable Napa wineries. Bruce knew the natural next step in his family’s legacy was to introduce winemaking, with the mindset of making a “grower’s wine.” He convinced Françoise Peschon to join the team, and together, they released the first vintage of VHR’s estate Cabernet in 2008. Françoise trusted the Phillips family’s dedication to the land, and inspired her with the chance to craft a wine with a true sense of place.
With the inaugural release of Baker & Hamilton, Bruce strove to pay homage to generations-long traditions and offer a wine exclusively to retailers and restaurants from the estate’s acclaimed Oakville benchland fruit. Derived from his great-great grandfather’s farm equipment sales business launched in 1884 outside San Francisco, the Baker & Hamilton name is another example of the Phillips family’s deep California roots.
Françoise’s style consciously restrains with an effort in letting the fruit speak for itself. 2019 proved an outstanding inaugural vintage with moderate temperatures and spring rains that allowed for an extended hangtime on the vine. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Vine Hill Ranch Vineyard aged 23 months in French oak, 85% of which was new. The wine is refined with a medium to full body draped in luscious dark fruits, red florals, and savory notes of cedar and tobacco. Impressive and a touch indulgent, with silky tannins that will undoubtedly continue to soften as the years’ pass. The Baker & Hamilton Cabernet is the first new project from Vine Hill Ranch with Françoise in over a decade and one you don’t want to miss out on! Having tasted the flagship wine from VHR, the Baker & Hamilton demonstrates a distinct familial resemblance that is rewarding now and will age beautifully for decades to come.