"Proprietor Jayson Woodbridge, one of the wine world’s most Compelling , outspoken, irreverent, bigger-than-life personalities ... year after year he proves what great wine is all about!" ~Robert M. Parker Jr.
Hundred Acre Wine: Napa Valley's Individualistic and Opulent Cabernet Sauvignon
Jayson Woodbridge, former investment banker turned winemaker, has earned a sterling reputation while being called the “Howard Hughes of wine” by Robert Parker. Known for his contrarian personality and relentless pursuit of perfection, Woodbridge is the driving force behind Hundred Acre, a winery that has achieved cult status since its inception. With an impressive track record of thirty-four 100-point scores since its debut vintage in 2000, Hundred Acre has firmly established itself as a Napa Valley icon, producing exceptional California Cabernets from three distinct vineyards: Kayli Morgan, Ark, and Few and Far Between.
From Investment Banker to Winemaking Icon
Woodbridge's journey to find the ideal site for his luxury Cabernets was a quest spanning multiple years, ultimately led by vineyard manager Jim Barbour. Jim discovered a parcel with the potential for Cabernet Sauvignon greatness while Woodbridge enlisted the expertise of soil specialist Philippe Melka. Melka's assessment likened the vineyard's composition to that of the renowned Pomerol estate, Chateau Petrus. This discovery birthed the Kayli Morgan vineyard, laying the foundation for Hundred Acre's early triumphs.
“The necks of the Hundred Acre bottles also feature a 24-carat gold band seal fired into the glass, which he says is the symbol of his bond with his clients.” ~Antonio Galloni
Since their inaugural vintage in 2000, Hundred Acre has remained committed to producing wines exclusively from their estate vineyards: Kayli Morgan, Ark, and Few and Far Between. Woodbridge's uncompromising standards extend from the vine to the bottle, ensuring that no fruit is sourced externally, and nothing less than perfection makes it through the doors. No grapes or bulk wine are peddled to other Napa Valley estates and any grapes that fall short of Woodbridge's rigorous criteria are discarded. In-house mastery is the name of the game.
Woodbridge's meticulous approach to winemaking, strict attention to detail, and unwavering commitment to excellence extend to the vineyard and winery. The fruit selection process is rigorously strict. Clusters are meticulously sorted, first in the field and then again at the winery. Before processing, the fruit undergoes a final berry-by-berry inspection on a vibrating sorting table. This meticulous approach results in one of Napa's most rich, complex, and opulent Cabernets.
The vineyard avoids conventional marketing strategies, opting for a discreet network-oriented approach. This aura of secrecy enhances allure and exclusivity, appealing especially to collectors and those in pursuit of luxurious experiences. With limited production, there's an inherent sense of scarcity, turning ownership into a prestigious badge of honor.
While Hundred Acre Wines take center stage in Woodbridge's winemaking career, his impact extends beyond the bottle. Known as Napa's contrarian, Woodbridge has faced conflicts with local government. Despite this seemingly contentious relationship, Woodbridge's commitment finds balance in his active support of local non-profits and his genuine passion for the Napa Valley land.
“Describing Jayson Woodbridge requires a thesaurus. Passionate is a good word, along with driven, charismatic and hedonistic. You could add exacting, arrogant, and volatile.” – Tim Fish, Wine Spectator
Unique Terroirs Behind the Magic
Hundred Acre wine originates from meticulously selected vineyards with optimal terroir conditions in Napa Valley, ensuring exceptional quality. The Hundred Acre name, inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh, adds a whimsical touch. This unexpected juxtaposition of high-end wine and childhood innocence creates a unique charm that sparks conversation.
The Kayli Morgan vineyard, nestled at the base of Howell Mountain, may appear deceptively flat but gently slopes from its center. Planted in 1996, this nine-acre site boasts ancient clay soil, volcanic glass, and gravel pebbles, a composition that absorbs water slowly bestowing a cooling effect on the vines while shielding them from temperature spikes. As Lisa Perrotti-Brown eloquently observes, “There is an almost Pétrus-like restraint and ferrous edge to the wines from this place.”
The Ark vineyard, sprawling across thirteen acres at the foot of Glass Mountain near St. Helena, boasts diverse volcanic soils punctuated by black obsidian rock. This hillside vineyard forms an elegant 180-degree arc around its neighbor, featuring an intricate patchwork boasting various clones, rootstocks, and row orientations.
In contrast, the Few and Far Between vineyard, perched above the legendary Eisele Vineyard in Calistoga, encompasses just five and a half acres. Its soil, a blend of clay and gravel, houses a 10% planting of Cabernet Franc, a departure from the Cabernet Sauvignon-exclusive focus of the other vineyards.
Hundred Acre Wine: Crafting Perfection
Hundred Acre's repertoire includes single-vineyard wines from each of these estates, as well as a select array of other offerings: Dark Ark, Deep Time, Wraith, Precious, and Fortification. Dark Ark emerges from the darkest, densest lots of the Ark vineyard, while Deep Time is crafted from specially chosen barrels subjected to extended aging. Wraith, a blend of all three vineyards, seeks to capture the vintage's essence more than any specific plot. Precious, the rarest gem, is only produced when Woodbridge believes a wine embodies the purest expression of Hundred Acre's philosophy. Lastly, Fortification is a single-vineyard fortified wine blended with Brandy distilled from a separate vineyard that adds a unique dimension to the portfolio.
Where Opulence Meets Individuality
In essence, Hundred Acre wines mirror the individualistic and charismatic nature of their creator. These Cabernets, celebrated for their opulence and vibrant fruit, stand as one of Napa Valley's most distinctive expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. Robert Parker affirms, "His wines are among the most individualistic in California. Even with their lofty prices and limited availability, they merit support." For collectors and connoisseurs seeking opulent, age-worthy Napa Valley Cabernets, Hundred Acre stands as the ultimate destination. Though their quantities are limited, and acquiring them can be a challenge, we offer a diverse selection of bottlings and vintages to satisfy your palate.