An Amazing Story
One of Napa Valley’s first wineries, White Rock Vineyards, established in 1870 in the foothills of Stag’s Leap range, was later purchased and revived in 1977 by a French man and his local wife, Henri and Claire Vandendriessche, after instantly falling in love with the property.
The young Vandendriessche family grew up on the land, farming together. They decided to farm organically so their kids could play in the vineyard without worrying about chemicals. They replanted vines, as well as decided to bore into the white ash rock to form a wine cave for the winery and wine cellar. This is where the 3,000 or so yearly cases of White Rock wine rest in a stack in the arches of the rock cave.
The second generation of Vandendriessches, Michael and Christopher, both studied winemaking (a love for Burgundy surfaces here), among other subjects of education and life, before returning home to the land where they both grew up. Now, as White Rock vineyard manager and winemaker, they get to work the land and grapes they know so well.
Then during the devastating Northern California wildfires of 2017, the family lost two historic homes and the original winery building, after fleeing in the night. They also lost their entire library of wine stored in that building. Thankfully, the vines and the cave were both saved.
Today, the whole Vandendriessche family is managing the vinyeard, making wine, moving forward, and rebuilding their homes and historic winery. They want to see how long the old vines will produce enough juice to produce wine.
White Rock Wines Tasted
2018 White Rock Vineyards Viognier
Pure viognier nose – peaches & apricots, exotic white floral & spices. Beautifully-textured palate with broad richness well-complimented with excellent lift. Expressive and vibrant, with gliding structure through the finish. This was very fine – as good of a domestic viognier as I can ever recall tasting.
2016 White Rock Vineyards Chardonnay Breccia
Aromas of butterscotch, lemon creme, marzipan, spices and white flowers. Massively textured and broad palate with creamy stone fruit, hazelnut spices and flowers. Impressive in its scope with balanced acidity to anchor the structure. Big concentrated finish. Very nice.
2016 White Rock Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve
Aromatics of orange zest, slate minerality, white pepper and dusty spices. While richly textured, this is brighter and more high-toned than the Breccia. Nicely complex along a broad and expansive middle. Serious structure, and a big finish.
2016 White Rock Vineyards Claret
Aromas of black cherry, licorice, allspice, cedar and lavender. Elegant dark fruit on the palate with savory herbal, floral and spice depth. Well-structured with broad supple structure through the palate and fine dense tannins on the finish. Very nice.
2014 White Rock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Laureate
Aromatics of violet, smoked paprika & dusty spices, currants, cedar and shoe-box leather – very fragrant. Broad and dense palate yielding core notes of melted iron, blackcurrent fruit, savory spices and dried florals. Firm and fine tannins, with serious depth on the finish. Excellent.
2014 White Rock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Cave Hill Reserve
Aromatics of root spices, cedar, black cherry, leather and tobacco. More immediate plushness and richness to the palate than the Laureate, with expressive and layered flavors, expansive depth in the middle, fine round tannins, and serious length. Excellent.