Synonymous with Pahlmeyer, Proprietary Red is the winery’s raison d’etre.
“All I wanted to do was to create my own ‘California Mouton’ – a rich, powerful Napa Valley Bordeaux blend, a wine that would drop wine lovers to their knees,” says Jayson Pahlmeyer. The 1986 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red was the realization of Jayson’s dream. Anointed 94 points by Robert Parker, it was the first of an extraordinary legacy of critically acclaimed wines.
Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red is a classic Napa Valley Bordeaux blend: roughly 80% Cabernet Sauvignon with a good portion of Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Each variety is harvested separately and held separately throughout fermentation and barrel aging. The lots are aged an average of 18 months in French oak Bordeaux barrels, blended through a meticulous, time-honored artisanal process, and bottled without filtering or fining.
Produced in limited quantities, the Proprietary Red is a wine of superb power and density with commanding tannins and rich, dark flavors that become increasingly lush and seductive with age. Properly cellared, Proprietary Red will evolve magnificently for at least 25 years.
Pahlmeyer was born out Jayson Pahlmeyer’s audacious dream of creating a “California Mouton”. A successful trial attorney, he had an insatiable thirst for adventure and a hypnotic captivation with wine. Following his dream, Jayson partnered with John Caldwell, owner of a 55-acre site in south-east Napa Valley. Together, they began planting the finest French clones of red Bordeaux varieties.
After months of sleuthing in elite French vineyards, and years of seeking assistance from viticultural professors at the University of Bordeaux who analyzed the soil samples, exposure, rainfall and temperature data, Jayson and his partner were able to acquire Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec vines with the greatest intensity, depth of flavor and character and proceeded to smuggle their “suitcase clones” to the U.S. through Canada.
Planted in 1981, the French cuttings slowly adjusted. In 1986, with the help of Randy Dunn, one of California’s foremost winemakers, the Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red was made and launched Pahlmeyer’s astonishing track record of critical acclaim.
In 1989, Jayson invited rising star winemaker Bob Levy to produce the first vintages of Pahlmeyer Chardonnay and the 1991 Chardonnay sold out immediately.
In 1993, Helen Turley took the winemaking reins and further improved the quality and consistency of Pahlmeyer wines. She was instrumental in finding Waters Ranch – Pahlmeyer’s high-elevation Napa Valley estate vineyard planted to red Bordeaux varieties and Chardonnay - and Wayfarer, the winery’s isolated estate vineyard in the newly established Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. Waters Ranch and Wayfarer estate vineyards were planted by viticulture legend David Abreu in 1998 and 2002, respectively.
Jayson’s daughter Cleo joined the team in 2008, infusing the winery with new energy and bringing renewed vibrancy to the Pahlmeyer legacy. Vintage after vintage, Pahlmeyer continues to live up to Jayson’s audacious dream – producing phenomenal wines of power and finesse.
The current winemaker is Bibiana Gonzalez Rave. She received her oenology degree from the University of Bordeaux and has worked at estates in Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley, Santa Barbara County, Sonoma Valley and other locations in addition to Napa Valley. She was named Winemaker of the Year for 2015 by the San Francisco Chronicle.