by Fred McMillin
for April 9, 1999

 

Winery of the Week

Whitehall Stands Tall


Prologue

Whitehall Lane Winery  
Whatta twist! On March 31,1993 an American bought a Napa Winery from a Japanese.


The Rest of the Story

Entrepreneur Tom Leonardini, owner of the Napa Valley Wine Exchange and a San Francisco businessman, immediately set about upgrading his new purchase. He couldn't upgrade the land, since the vineyard was in the coveted heart of the Napa Valley. So, the first thing he did was hire a winemaker with an impressive pedigree...viticulture and winemaking in college...then working with the legendary Mike Grgich...then winemaker at one of Napa's best, the Grace Family Vineyards. Gary Galleron's first vintage was 1993. He soon was garnering "90" ratings in the press. Here's what James Laube says in California Wine about the subsequent vintages:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon—Good and improving.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve—Past few vintages are solid. A wine to watch since the focus is to raise the quality level to Napa's best.
  • Chardonnay—Three stars and improving. My picky panel just tasted the '96 Cab, and gave it a hard-to-get HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. They put it on their MOST WANTED list, since the consensus was that it has a brilliant future in your cellar. $22.


Just The Facts

Whitehall Lane Winery
St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA.
Founded—1797
Philosophy—Keep this a small, family-owned winery. Grow most of your own grapes, supplemented by long-term contracts with a few other farmers that are committed to favoring intense flavors instead of high yields.
Vineyards—22 acres at the winery plus 14 nearer St. Helena.
Contact—Office of General Manager Michael McLoughlin, (707) 963-9454, FX (707) 963-7035
Winemaker—Gary Galleron


Postscript

There's no mystery about the origin of the winery's name, since the facility is located at the intersection of Highway 29 and Whitehall Lane. More suprising is the fact that a nearby road has the same name as the winemaker...Galleron. But there's a good reason: Gary grew up playing there because the road is named after the Galleron family.

Note:
For more about the winery, see these two WineDays...
Nov. 24,1997, "Melot Can Steal The Show" and
Oct. 23,1997, "The Bench That Roared".

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 

WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin

 

Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.

 

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