2007 Dana Estates, Helms Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Bottle (750ml) RP97
2014 Dana Estates, Cabernet Sauvignon Onda, Napa Valley, Magnum (1.5L) JS97
2012 Dana Estates, Helms Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Magnum (1.5L) JS99
2012 Dana Estates, Hershey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Magnum (1.5L) RP98/JS98
2015 Dana Estates, Lotus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Magnum (1.5L) JD99/JS99
2015 Dana Estates, Helms Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Magnum (1.5L) JD99/RP98+
2015 Dana Estates, Lotus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Bottle (750ml) JD99/JS99

Dana Estates: Rising Star Among Napa's Elite

 

Dana Estates has rapidly climbed the ranks of Napa's elite producers, edging closer to achieving the esteemed "cult wine" title. Founded in 2005 by South Korean wine enthusiast Hi Sang Lee, this boutique estate produced its first 100-point wine with the 2007 Lotus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, just two years after its inception. Praised as "utterly perfect" by Robert Parker, this achievement signaled the promise of greatness for the young producer. Central to Dana Estates' success is the skilled winemaker, Philippe Melka, known for his work with prestigious names like Haut-Brion, Dominus, Bryant Family, Dalla Valle, and Hundred Acre. Paired with esteemed vineyard sites spanning from Rutherford to Howell Mountain, Dana Estates' swift recognition among Napa's elite was no accident. The combination of limited production and rapid critical acclaim created a fervor among connoisseurs eager to experience Napa's latest sensation.

The Man Behind Dana Estates

Hi Sang Lee, a business visionary from South Korea, began his wine adventure in 1979 after falling in love with Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and other fine wines during a skiing trip in Vermont. Fueled by his entrepreneurial spirit, Lee established the elaborate five-story Podo Plaza in South Korea, becoming a hub for all things wine, including a wine bar, shop, museum, and wine stewardship with a focus on wine education. Lee's unwavering passion for wine eventually led to the creation of Dana Estates.

Before Dana Estates came to fruition, Lee delved into the luxury wine import business. Frustrated by the difficulty of procuring highly sought-after wines in his home country, Lee established his import business in South Korea and became the importer for prestigious Napa Valley brands such as Colgin, Scarecrow, Harlan Estate, Kistler, and Joseph Phelps, among others. His love for wine continued to grow, culminating in the birth of Dana Estates after a friend suggested he pursue winemaking in Napa Valley, given his adoration for Napa Cab.

In 2005, Hi Sang Lee acquired a 5-acre vineyard, an old ranch house, a barn, and the ruins of a dilapidated winery dating back to 1883, igniting the inception of Dana Estates. Over the next five years, Lee transformed the estate into one of Napa's premier producers. Focused on crafting super-premium wines, he assembled an exceptional team, including renowned architect Howard Backen (known for Harlan Estate, Bond, and Spottswoode) to renovate the property, rising star winemaker Philippe Melka, and esteemed vineyard manager Pete Richmond. This exceptional team has propelled Dana Estates among Napa's most prestigious wineries.

 Dana Estates Prestigious Vineyard Sites

Today, Dana Estates cultivates wines from four distinct vineyards. Helms Vineyard, situated at the base of the Mayacamus Mountain range in Rutherford, sets the foundation for the estate's remarkable wines. The rocky slopes of Howell Mountain host the remaining sites, namely Lotus Vineyard, Hershey Vineyard, and Crystal Springs Vineyard. Notably, all of Dana Estates' vineyards are farmed organically, reflecting their commitment to sustainable practices. These four vineyards converge to create the celebrated wines that have captured hearts worldwide.

Leading the winemaking team is Philippe Melka, one of Napa's most critically acclaimed consultants. His impressive resume, boasting collaborations with some of the world's greatest producers, has solidified his reputation as a prominent talent in the wine industry. Earning his first 100-point wine for Dana Estates with the 2007 Lotus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Melka continues to craft high-scoring wines for the estate. At Dana Estates, Melka produces three single-vineyard wines, all centered around Cabernet Sauvignon from Helms Vineyard, Lotus Vineyard, and Hershey Vineyard. These wines have garnered a dedicated following, embodying the essence of Dana Estates. The estate also offers a "second wine," a blend of estate-grown fruit from three or four vineyards, and a Sauvignon Blanc from Hershey Vineyard.

A Promising Future

The visionary leadership of Hi Sang Lee, who demands greatness in his wines, has propelled Dana Estates' rise. Assisted by an all-star team, Dana Estates has captivated both connoisseurs and critics alike, solidifying its position among Napa Valley's most sought-after wines. For collectors and connoisseurs of Napa's elite producers, Dana Estates is an unmissable addition to any cellar. As the estate's achievements in the first 15 years foreshadow future success, the next 15 years hold the promise of a remarkable legacy for this outstanding winery.

Written by: Craig Headding

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