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by Fred McMillin
for January 14, 1998

The Yountville Legacy

Prologue:

"We call this wine the Holbrook Mitchell Trio because of the three varieties in it. They are all grown by Holbrook Mitchell on his ranch in Yountville."

...Kent Rosenblum of Rosenblum Cellars

The Rest of the Story: Yountville ... one of the newer wine districts of the Napa Valley? Let's see. George Yount was born in North Carolina in 1794. He worked his way west with rifle, trap and carpenter's tools. Reaching Sonoma, he built a novel roof for General Vallejo's home, not from tiles, but from wooden shingles. One day he borrowed a horse and rode to a ridge that overlooked the Napa Valley. He decided that was his future. So, General Vallejo, who wanted the land settled to discourage the Russians from moving south, granted George 1,200 choice Napa acres in 1838. Yountville was born. The general also gave George some of his Mission wine vines. Thus, Yountville is not exactly a new Napa wine district. In fact, the valley's very first wines were made there (from Sonoma vines).

Today, Holbrook Mitchell's vineyard trio consists of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each is harvested at peak ripeness. Then, Kent Rosenblum ferments them separately, then blends, then gives them 20 months in wood. The $35.00 1995 is the sixth vintage my panel has tasted and they rated it over some bottles with considerably higher sticker prices. George Yount's legacy is in very good hands.

The Wine:
1995 Holbrook Mitchell Trio, Napa Valley Red Wine
Vineyard—100% H. Mitchell Ranch, Yountville
Rosenblum Cellars, Alameda, CA, (510) 865-7007
Tasting Notes—Rich and powerful, but not harsh.
Food Affinities—Lamb, beef, pasta. Later, pour with cheese or chocolate dessert.
Rating—HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Price—$35

Postscript:
Only Mexican citizens could be landowners, so how did George Yount become the first American landowner in the Napa Valley? Easy. General Vallejo had him baptized Jorge de Concepcion Yount and given Mexican citizenship.


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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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