Craft

“My philosophy is simple: I like to create the most natural and expressive wines California can offer. I believe in allowing the fruit to fully reveal itself in the wines, encouraging the personality and terroir of the vineyards, while showcasing itself to the fullest extent. This allows the wines to be true to their nature and brings harmony in the bottle.”Mike Smith

{craft}
    an activity involving
        skill in making things by hand

Our Wines

Everything starts in the vineyard, in late January when we pick up the pruning shears, to mid-season when we obsess about the canopy, the painstaking nature of dropping crop, harvesting by hand each October to sowing cover crops to add nutrients while the vines rest each winter. We strive to harness mother nature, her wrath, her glory and to craft wines that reflect our terroir. We hand pick, block by block at night to ensure the grapes arrive without the harsh heat of the day, keeping their ripe soft skins intact. Each lot of grapes are then fermented in barrel, ensuring beautiful mouthfeel and seamless oak integration. Our wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered to give you the purest expression of our legendary vineyards.

2018 Bench Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley

The color is deep and black and the nose is powerful and bold with explosive notes of chocolate, espresso, cherry reduction, raspberry preserves, and overripe plum. There is a delightful sense of warmth and baking spices in the heart of this wine. A very dense, bold, and velvety red fruit flavor emerges as a delicious surprise. Flavors of star anise, plum, cassis, dried currant, and espresso bean flood the mouth to find every last taste bud on the palate. The oak is rich and the mouthfeel is lavish. Firm tannins and a distinct sense of terroir create a sensational, well-rounded finish. 

2016 Bench Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley

This stunning Cabernet comes from our southernmost block of our Estate.  The vineyard was planted with cuttings acquired in the late 1960s from Louis Martini seniors’ backyard in St. Helena.   The second vintage produced of this wine, the aromas are intense and complex with rich cassis, blackberries, and cedar notes.

There are juniper berries and notes of spice with good weight and structure.  A silky texture, and a clean, long finish provide ample tannins for aging

2018 Bench Vineyards Circa 64
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley

This red and purple-hued wine is dark and delicious. Multiple layers of lush fruit carries through to the palate showcasing flavors of sweet black plums, boysenberry, and pomegranate intricately woven together by soft, velvety tannins. With delicious fruit flavors so lavishly displayed, this wine is approachable, yet simultaneously formidable with all the heft and structure needed to age. Whether poured to stand alone or paired with a hearty meal, this wine is an occasion in and of itself.

2016 Bench Vineyards Circa 64
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley

A luxurious blend of three components from the Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Our inaugural release of this wine was in 2014, led by second generation vintner Allison Steltzner and her husband Sam Sharp. They drew inspiration from the landscape of the property in creating Bench Vineyards project.  This wine provides amazing texture with lovely blue and red fruits, with a long elegant finish.  The aromas are complex with notes of dark fruit, violets, ripe plums and a hint of toasted cedar.  On the palette this wine has flavors of rich and smokey pipe tobacco and a slight hint of cedar.  It is wine is well balanced with a beautiful structure and manages to glide smoothly across the palate, finishing with a long lingering finish.

2017 The Heron Bench Cabernet Sauvignon
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley

This Cabernet is massive and rich, yet restrained. The color is deep and black and the nose is powerful and bold with explosive notes of chocolate, espresso, cherry reduction, raspberry preserves and overripe plum. The taste is dense, bold and velvety. The oak is rich and the mouthfeel is lavish. Firm tannins and a distinct sense of terroir create a sensational, well-rounded finish. 

2016 The Heron Bench Cabernet Sauvignon
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley

This very special wine is made from a single block of Cabernet in our vineyard that has a small slope and excellent drainage.  This single barrel selection wine is produced in only two Darnajou barrels, which is the favorite barrel cooper of the Winemaker.  The color of the wine is captivating in dark purple, almost black, with intense aromas of mature ripe fruit, cassis, dark chocolate and red fruit.  Flavors intensify on the palate with assertive tannins in the entry that are balanced nicely by the structure of this wine.  It maintains a creamy, smooth mouth feel which carries over to the finish.