The "What ever happened to that winery..." thread

“What ever happened to that winery…”

My favorite california cabernet for the price in the 90’s was Whitehall Lane - fantastic Morisoli fruit and great concentration that typified napa cab…the '94 and '97 reserves were awesome…
Since '99 (the last great year) though they have disappeared - their wines lack the excitement and winemaking of the earlier '90s
I am drinking through '98, '00, '02 and am just not impressed, some have faded poorly…
too bad!

What was your favorite winery that has disappeared or has been in the decline???

  • Scott

I don’t know anything about Whitehall Lane wines. My wife and I stopped in there once, and the guy behind the counter was so obnoxiously rude to us that it was shocking. I have pretty thick skin,but this guy was a jerk.

Turned around and walked out without tasting a thing. Doubt that I ever will.

my favourite CA cab for the price is Beringer Nights Valley. Year in year out…

and of all the wineries who make too much wine, I think Beringer makes the best.

La Jota. Some of my favorite CA Cabs were La Jota’s from the early to mid 1990’s – seems they have fallen from grace.

I enjoyed La Jota quite a bit, and thought that Bill Smith was one of the most enjoyable folks I’d met in California in the early nineties…

Bill still makes GREAT Howell Mtn cabs under the WH Smith “Piedra Hill” label. Try to find some of you can. I’ve always loved his Pinot Noir and only recently been getting into the Cabs.

Helen Turley started consulting at La Jota in the early to mid 90s-- I know she made the 1993 and probably a few before and after.

Cut my (California) teeth on:

Mt. Veeder

These days they’ve been relegated to red-headed stepchild category.

97 Franciscan Oakville was a good wine for $20, went through a case back then.

Estancia, Mt. Veeder, and Franciscan, among others (including Mondavi) are owned by Constellation through their Icon Estates division.

Many of the former greats were bought up by big corporations and subsequently lost the identity and ownership that made them great, becoming instead “brands” to be fit into a larger marketing portfolio. An all too common story.

Corporate buy outs of mid-tier wineries became a huge thing over the last 10 years. That explains most of the “falls from grace” that is being mentioned here.


What’s the skinny on the former? Prices?

I haven’t had anything since '99 from Viader. I got a mailer a couple months ago offering a good deal on half bottles, but the 750’s are still touching $100 each.

Grgich Hills

Boy, I’d echo that. Seemed like nice enought stuff in the '80s, but the '90s…nada!

To that I’d add in no particular order:

Alexander Valley Vnyds
St. Francis
Geyser Peak
Stags Leap
Clos du Val

Clos du Val. I still have some of the early 90s wines and they’re still alive & kicking. First winery I ever visited. Now? WTF? They seem to be off the radar. I’d agree with Whitehall Lane, too. Freemark Abbey Bosche would be another.


I think a lot of these poeple flat-out get eclipsed by other wineries, and it doesn’t seem to matter at all to them. They’ve been bought up, or have decent placement in restaurants/steakhouses, or have a steady parade of visitors and buyers, and they just kick back. Sometimes they survive despite their apparent lazaire faire attitude. for instance, Jordan used to have a pretty nice Cab during the '80s and early '90s. I remember arranging an appointment to visit in '96. After the canned tour we were ushered into a large nicely appointed dining room. What already seemed a bit awkward, got worse when we were given a 2 oz pour of Chardonnay…ONLY! No Cab! We were told that ‘Mr. Jordan was aware that people already knew his Cabernet, and wanted them to try his Chardonnay.’ Wow, canned tour and Chardonnay. Can you say waste of time!

Just a little defense of Jordan cab. They are often the only halfway decent bottle on many lists at restaurants and so I have the wine at least a couple of times a year. The 04 is quite good and stays true to the older style. Prices have increased over the years, but no huge rise like many other wineries. Just my $.02.

On the original topic, I used to love Stag’s Leap wines going back to the 80’s and early 90’s vintages, but they seemed to fall off a cliff in the late 90’s.

Not that they were ever a great winery but one that often baffles me is Vine Cliff. They have what appears to be an amazing site for growing grapes in Oakville, yet produce mediocre wine every single year.