Heitz’s Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is arguably one of the greatest examples of the variety ever produced in the New World. With its location up against the foothills outside Oakville, just beneath Harlan Estate and surrounded by the likes of To-Kalon, this perfectly situated vineyard yields fruit of uncompromising purity and elegance, with hallmark mint and cranberry that helps flag it in almost any lineup.
In many ways Heitz, and in particular their Marth’s Vineyard bottling, pushed the boundaries of the Napa Valley wine industry. Heitz’s dedication to quality, not to mention his business savvy, was integral in developing the higher quality niche that quickly grabbed the attention of the collector community. Heitz began sourcing from Martha’s Vineyard in 1965, and while he initially blended it with many other vineyards, as was the practice of the time, winemaker Joe Heitz quickly singled out Martha’s as unique. Along with a push for higher prices, Heitz’s radical(for the time) decision to bottle his Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon separately quickly garnered attention.
Over the years Heitz further focused on single vineyard Napa Cabernet Sauvignon adding Bella Oaks and Trailside to the venerable lineup. While maybe not quite reaching the heights of Martha’s, these two other bottlings show Heitz’s incredible skill as a winemaker. Disease pressure necessitated full replanting of Martha’s Vineyard in the early 1990’s. This lack of fruit robbed Heitz of their crown jewel during a key period of increased visibility for Napa Valley. The new millennium has seen Heitz once again producing world-class wine, albeit in a much more competitive field than in their hay day. Despite this, Heitz’s Martha’s Vineyard remains a reference point for understanding Napa Valley wine. Those who are lucky enough to find an older bottle have the chance to experience one of the greatest eras of winemaking the Valley may ever see.