The wine world is nothing without innovation and growth, and just a little luck. A beautiful example of this can be found in the story of the Signorello family and their eponymous winery, Signorello Estate.
In 1977, Ray Signorello Sr and his wife Hope purchased about 100 acres of land in the southeastern part of Napa Valley, bordering the Silverado Trail, as a planned vacation spot. Noticing that neighboring properties were beginning to plant vineyards, Ray, with the assistance of his son Ray Jr, joined in, selling their grapes to local wineries. However, by chance in 1985, the Signorellos had some extra fruit to themselves after a particularly bountiful growing season; they made their own wine for the first time and realized the potential of the grapes they had. The rest is history, and we are the benefactors of such a leap of faith. Now led by Ray Jr, Signorello Estate sits on that same 100 acre plot, 42 of which are planted to vine, producing some of the great Napa wines: Hope’s Cuvee and Padrone.
When we talk about Napa, we often neglect to talk about Chardonnay; however, Hope’s Cuvee is one that truly stands out. Named for Ray Jr’s mother, this 100% estate wine comes from a miniscule 5 acre plot on the property, planted over 40 years ago. After being picked, the grapes will be pressed whole cluster and go through fermentation in oak utilizing indigenous yeast. Once the wine goes through malolactic fermentation, it will sit on lees for 8 months in 50% new French oak.
Padrone, Italian for “proprietor,” is a decadent Cabernet Sauvignon also coming entirely from the Signorello Estate vineyards. Hand-sorted and fermented utilizing native yeast, the wine exudes powerful tannins with a delicate balance of dark chocolate intermingled with tobacco and berries. The 2016 vintage sees 18 months in mostly new French oak.
The wine itself is fantastic, but what I am most excited about is the future of Signorello. Under the leadership of Ray Jr and the guidance of acclaimed winemaker Celia Welch, is a rising star in current winemaker Priyanka French. While new to the winery, her time at Dalla Valle Vineyards means that she was able to learn from some of the best: Andy Erickson and Michel Rolland. Alongside this team, Steve Matthiasson (who also advises at Dalla Valle), is viticulturalist at the estate. Arising from the ashes, some great things are yet to come from Signorello.