2017 Chappellet, Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Bottle (750ml) Rating:RP96/JD95+
2017 Chappellet, Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Case of 6 btls Rating:RP96/JD95+

Chappellet Winery – 2016 Vintage RP100 “Hallelujah, This Is Perfection!”

Napa Valley, renowned for its winemaking heritage, boasts a unique gem on the slopes of Pritchard Hill—the Chappellet Winery. This family-owned estate, perched on the rugged terrain of an undesignated sub-appellation, weaves a narrative of passion, innovation, and a commitment to preserving the legacy of its founders, Donn and Molly Chappellet.

“Bacchus Loves The Hills”

Inspired by the belief that "Bacchus loves the hills," an expression that associates the love of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, with the idea that wine grapes thrive in hilly or elevated region, Donn and Molly Chappellet purchased hillside property in 1967. The construction of the iconic pyramid winery, designed by abstract artist Ed Moses, commenced in 1968, marking the beginning of a remarkable winemaking journey.

The Roots of Pritchard Hill

Pritchard Hill, named after the pioneering Charles Pritchard, is the cradle of Chappellet Winery. Charles, the first settler in the area, planted grapes in 1882 on the very land where Chappellet now stands. The Chappellet winery owns the trademark rights to Pritchard Hill, a testament to the unique terroir.

Upholding the diverse character of Pritchard Hill, the Chappellet team tends to the estate as 48 individual blocks, each accentuating different soil types, elevations, exposures, and grades. This array of micro-vineyards provides a rich tapestry of varieties, clones, and rootstocks for the winemaking team to skillfully incorporate into their craft.

Volcanic Soils

At the heart of Pritchard Hill's viticultural magic is its volcanic soil—a spectacle of rocks, minerals, and ancient history. These soils don't merely cradle the vines; they infuse the grapes with flavors and aromas that stand out in the world of winemaking. Known for their ability to retain heat, these volcanic soils create a warm and nurturing haven for the vines, fostering an environment where the grapes can reach their fullest potential.

Rocky Terrain and Excellent Drainage

The rocky embrace of Pritchard Hill's terrain not only adds character to the landscape but also plays a crucial role in the winemaking alchemy. The combination of rocks and minerals in the soil imparts a unique minerality and structural complexity to the wines. Meanwhile, the excellent drainage ensures that the vines receive just the right amount of water, preventing waterlogging and allowing the grapes to express their truest essence.


Pritchard Hill's elevated vineyards, reaching towards the heavens, create a canvas for slow ripening. The high altitude, coupled with the rocky slopes, extends the ripening process, granting the grapes an extended period to develop and mature. This deliberate pace results in wines of remarkable depth and concentration, each sip a journey through layers of complexity.

From Gold Mines to Grape Vines

The Chappellet lineage is woven into the fabric of California's history and represents a family of accomplished entrepreneurs. Donn Chappellet’s great-great grandfather, Felix, immigrated from France and thrived in the gold mining industry, working with notable California mines. Donn’s grandfather, Felix Jr., continued in mining, also venturing into the oil business in southern California. In 1932, Donn's father, Cyril Chappellet, exhibited foresight by acquiring the assets of the bankrupt Lockheed Aircraft Corporation during the Depression, transforming it into a major aerospace company with substantial annual sales. 20 years later, Donn mirrored the entrepreneurial family spirit and co-founded Interstate United Corporation, a highly successful food service company known for distributing the first coffee vending machine using fresh coffee grounds. Despite its growth to 8,000 employees and diversification into restaurants and hospital food services, Donn sold his shares in 1966 striving, together with his wife Molly, for something their current surrounding couldn’t give them.

Historic Vintages and Winemaking Prowess

The inaugural vintage in 1967, a Chenin Blanc, paved the way for the storied 1969 Cabernet Sauvignon, earning a perfect 100-point rating from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. In 1997, as "Cult Wines" gained prominence, the Chappellet family recognized the need to further showcase the splendor of Pritchard Hill. They took a decisive step by introducing a small lot bottling, crafting the finest wine the property could yield. Winemakers like Philip Togni, Joe Cafaro, Tony Soter, and Cathy Corison have all contributed to Chappellet's legacy.

Today, the Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon stands proudly atop the Chappellet portfolio, setting the benchmark for hillside Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. The winery's commitment to quality is showcased through its flagship wine, a testament to the region's magnificence.

Fast forward to 2012, a pivotal year marked by the construction of the Barrel Chai adjacent to the pyramid winery. This addition not only enhances Chappellet's winemaking capabilities but also incorporates a solar array, harnessing the sun's energy to power both structures. This harmonious blend of tradition and innovation reflects Chappellet's commitment to excellence and sustainability in every sip and structure.

Family, Creativity, and Artistry

Chappellet remains a rare family-owned winery, with the second generation carrying forward the vision of Donn and Molly. From their daughter Carissa's vibrant dragon labels to Molly's literary contributions, the Chappellet family is as diverse in their artistic expressions as the wines they craft.

“Hallelujah, This Is Perfection!”

Chappellet continues to craft wines that not only reflect the complexity of Pritchard Hill but also honor a legacy of innovation, family, and sustainable stewardship. To drink a Chappellet is not just a journey into the world of wine; it's an exploration of a rich history, art, and the timeless beauty of Napa Valley's finest.

Written by: Arabella Maislinger

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