The legend of Stony Hill Vineyard lives on. Fred and Eleanor McCrea bought a goat ranch on Spring Mountain in the 1940s and instead planted a vineyard. In 1952 they produced their first Chardonnay and the rest is history. Perhaps the first “boutique” Napa Valley property, Stony Hill was also planted to three acres of Gewürztraminer, (a Napa Valley rarity) in 1959. All the wines are made in a moderate alcohol, age-worthy style and, because they are a very small operation, the entire production is only available at select restaurants or online at stonyhillvineyard.com.
In The Press
Arnot-Roberts. Lioco. Matthiasson. Sandhi.
These are just four of the producers that are counteracting the notion that ripeness, butter, and oak should define California Chardonnay. Across the country, thoughtful merchants and top sommeliers are showcasing these producers – and a few dozen others -- to show consumers that the Golden State can offer elegant, restrained Chardonnay.
There have been more than a few wineries stuck in a time warp. While the world around them changed, they declined to do so — and most often failed.
Like the makers of rotary dial phones who didn't change with technology, wineries that didn't adapt to changing tastes have folded or, more likely, bought by a large corporation.
Such an inevitable fate makes the story of Stony Hill Vineyard an intriguing anomaly.
Perhaps you haven't heard of Stony Hill Vineyards, but it's one of the oldest wineries in California. Its founders, Fred and Eleanor McCrea, bought the Spring Mountain property in 1943, but the first official vintage didn't appear until nearly a decade later. There were only a couple of hundred acres of chardonnay in all of Napa Valley then, but Fred followed his love of French burgundy and created a chardonnay style he liked: elegant, understated and unadorned by oak.