Having grown up in Vancouver and Stockton respectively, Fiona and Hal Barnett became enamored with Napa Valley through frequent visits on the weekends of the early 1980’s. A vision began to form, and after an extensive search, they purchased a 40-acre property located atop Spring Mountain in 1983. The lot consisted of nothing but trees, rocks, shrubs, and dozens of rattlesnakes. After extensive work clearing, grading, and terracing the land, the first Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted the following year. Since the very beginning, the intent was to produce small amounts of hand crafted wines that would showcase the unique characteristics found in grapes cultivated on such challenging, high elevation terrain.
Over the next five years, as the vines developed and the estate was established, the Barnett’s commuted from their San Francisco home. Barnett Vineyard’s first harvest was in 1989 and yielded 232 cases of “Spring Mountain Cabernet”.
In 1991, Fiona and Hal moved full time to the property, where they raised their 3 daughters. The winery has expanded gradually since then, selecting outstanding vineyard sites for grapes in addition to those grown on the estate, leading to a current total production of approximately 8,000 cases. Rattlesnake and Spring Mountain District wines, including Merlot and Cabernet Franc, remain the focus with total estate production varying between 5,000 and 6,000 cases annually. In addition, we produce limited amounts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc sourced from coveted single vineyards located in astounding appellations.
Barnett Vineyards is located at the very top of Spring Mountain, at its peak of 2050 feet, well above the inversion layer of fog that blankets the Valley floor below. Due to the inversion layer, this unique microclimate influences the mountain vineyard by allowing up to 3 hours more sunlight per day. The additional sunlight is a critical element in why Barnett Vineyards’ fruit achieves more consistent ripening and flavor development vintage to vintage. During the afternoon, breezes come in from the Pacific Ocean creating a desirable cooling influence on the vines and thus benefiting the fruit development even more.
The estate is a 100% hillside vineyard with a dramatic series of steep terraces planted exclusively to the red Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. The vineyard is planted in blocks specifically contoured to the steep 35-degree + slope and soil conditions of each carefully selected varietal planted on the estate. The soil is extremely rocky and porous, resulting in additional stress and vigor on the vines and small clusters of rich intense fruit. The estate’s average yield is less than two tons an acre and often closer to one ton depending on the vintage.