Our Trip to Hourglass Blueline Estate
It was a beautiful crisp fall day with the dense fog lifting with the sunrise and it could not have been more serene and stunning looking down the center of the Blueline Estate vines.
We were greeted with a glass of the limited Hourglass Sauvignon Blanc and the great host Michael Cooperman.
Michael started by welcoming us to their breathtaking vineyard and telling us the back history of the "Hourglass Estate" and how the "Blueline Estate" are incredibly different but the same family standard.
So let's travel back in time shall we?
Jeff Smith inherited his father’s natural sense of vision and passion. He headed to San Francisco to play guitar in a rock band. When Jeff got the call that it was time to sell the family’s phylloxera-ridden vineyard, he had an unshakable feeling their land was far too valuable to let go. Jeff heard the reservation in his mother’s voice, but knew the land was worth saving.
Their 1997 Hourglass Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon gained instant renown when, on a whim, it was included in a high profile “cult tasting” that pinned it against such rock stars as Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, and Bryant Family. To the tasters’ surprise, the fledgling label held its own in the line-up. Not yet for sale, the debut wine sold out within days of the tasting. The plot of land Jeff's father Ned kept for his own, the lost vineyard that Jeff couldn’t let go, had finally accomplished its purpose and created something undeniably extraordinary.
*Jeff and Winemaker Tony Biagi admire the deep color of a young Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hourglass Estate sits in the narrowest pinch of the Valley. This constriction creates a crucial thermal dynamic drawing cooler bay air up from the south. The air “bottlenecks” at the narrow channel resulting in a cooling breeze that tempers late afternoon heat. His four-acre vineyard yielded excellent grapes for nearly fifteen years.
Hourglass is a story of place: the narrative of two dramatic sites and the people destined to create extraordinary wines. Due to its unique geography at the pinch of Napa Valley, it has a built-in climate regulator influenced by the cool afternoon breezes created by the constriction of the mountains.
They acquired the Blueline Estate with their partners in 2006, they expected it would take 10 years to really figure out the vineyard. True to form, it has. A warmer site compared to Hourglass, they started out employing the same farming and winemaking techniques.
The two canyons which reach upwards of 2,000 feet above the Blueline vineyard cause a thermal dynamic: As temperatures increase throughout the day, the warmer air rises up within the canyons, cooler air rushing in underneath it.
Presently hourglass has 24 acres across two estates, planted to all five red Bordeaux varieties. Bob Foley’s many projects didn’t afford him the time to take on this intensified role. It was time to take Hourglass to a new level and, fortunately, there was another experimentalist in the valley excited to step in. Tony Biagi possessed the vision, expertise and artistry to build upon the legacy that Bob Foley started.
One of the coolest spots at the winery at Blueline Estate is the cave. It is really something special. During the dig out for the winery there were some un-used sticks of dynamite so naturally they blew out a special spot in the earth which is now a super sexy area to sip wine. You really feel like a rock star. Surrounded by leather and fur. The table is a giant slab of blue veined marble. Not to mention the one of a kind chandelier dripping with a sensual ambiance.
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