A medium-bodied wine that presents spicy aromas of black pepper and curry powder with ripe fruit flavors, medium-acidity and fine grained tannins.
School House Vineyard is situated at an unlikely location for Pinot Noir, high on Spring Mountain above St. Helena at the intersection of Langtry and Spring Mountain Roads. The vineyard is named after a one-room 1890s schoolhouse on the property which was destroyed by fire in the mid-1980s.
The original vines, a mixed field blend, were planted in the 1880s by the Sheehan family, and all the grapes were blended into a single red table wine, jokingly referred to as “California Burgundy.” Today, some of the vines have been replanted and School House Mescolanza is a modern interpretation of the original field blend containing Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignane. In 2006, several Rhone varieties were planted in a joint venture with Pride Mountain Vineyards and a second School House Mescolanza blend is offered composed of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Mescolanza is Spanish for “mixture or medley.” Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also planted here and the Pinot Noir story follows.
John O. Gartner acquired 160 acres on Spring Mountain in 1938. He loved Burgundy and decided to plant Pinot Noir in the School House Vineyard in 1953, acquiring the budwood (rumored to be from Domaine Romanee-Conti) from his friend, John Daniel, the owner of Inglenook Estate (now Rubicon Estate). The 1953 School House Vineyard original plantings of Pinot Noir are the oldest in California along with the Ambassador Block at Hanzell which was also planted in 1953. Since 1992, the second generation winegrowers, John M. Gartner and Nancy Walker, have farmed the School House Vineyard. They live on the property and John does all the vineyard work by hand. When John and Nancy took over the property, it had been neglected for years. Together they managed to take back the property from the woods, working together over ten years to restore its former glory as a viticultural oasis.
Today, 12 acres of vineyard are farmed including six acres of Pinot Noir, 3.5 acres of Chardonnay, and the remainder a red field blend mix. The original 4 acres of Pinot Noir have been supplemented with 1 acre of now 10-yearold vines and 1 acre of now 6-year-old vines. The School House Pinot Noir was vinified at Stony Hill from 1957 to 1959, at Buena Vista Sonoma from 1960 to 1968, and over the subsequent years at various wineries where several winemakers were involved including Bo Barrett at Chateau Montelena. The School Mountain Vineyard wines have been crafted at Pride Mountain Vineyards since 1997, initially under the direction of winemaker Bob Foley and now custom crushed by the current Pride winemaking team. These are not California mainstream Pinot Noirs. They are terroir-driven and vintage-expressive wines.
The first School House Vineyard Pinot Noir was released from the 1957 vintage and the 2007 bottling, was the 50th from School House Vineyard.
|(76% Zinfandel/17% Petite Sirah/7% Carignane). Fruit picked from 120 year old and younger vines was fermented in open-top bins, after which the wine matured in neutral oak.
|The School House Vineyard is nestled among the cool, lush forested slopes of Spring Mountain where Langtry and Spring Mountain Roads intersect, at an elevation of approximately 1500 feet
The vineyard takes its name from the 1890s one-room school house which graced the property until it was consumed by fire in the mid 1980s
Though all that remains of the original building is the brick path leading from the road to the door, the School House has lent its name to this fascinating and unique vineyard property which has quietly produced very small quantities of some of the most sought after Napa Valley wines since the mid-1950s
Steeped in Napa Valley history, School House is the ultimate cult wine producer, cult before cult was cool!