Toward its northern end, just above the town of St. Helena, the Napa Valley narrows. Pinched in by the Mayacamas Mountains on the western side and the Vaca Range to the east, it forms an hourglass, funneling cool breezes that temper the up-valley heat. It’s at precisely that spot that Hourglass sits.
The four-acre estate vineyard began as the passion project of Ned Smith, a Napa Valley real estate agent who saw its fertile potential in the 1970s. Smith grew Zinfandel grapes there for 15 years, but when he passed away and the vineyard was devastated by phylloxera (a vine-destroying insect), his son Jeff put aside a burgeoning music career to take the reins. Jeff replanted the vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and brought on fellow musician and winemaker Bob Foley to craft the first vintage of Hourglass Cabernet in 1997. Since then, Hourglass has grown to include 24 acres over two exceptional estates, and winemaker Tony Biagi has built on Bob’s legacy, crafting the powerful yet refined vintages Jeff calls “postmodern wines.”