Winemaking and viticulture practices at Barnett Vineyards are influenced by the artisan craft of creating wines by hand. Due to the estate’s low yielding vineyard, it is critical to hand-harvest the vineyard vine-by-vine to ensure each cluster is picked at optimal ripeness. This manual work is additionally challenging on a 35º slope that is not conducive to any normal farm equipment.
To preserve the integrity of each individual vineyard block, the grapes are fermented separately in small batches. The “must” is punched down several times a day utilizing traditional techniques. This process maximizes the extended skin to juice contact providing added richness, flavor concentration, aromatics, and deep color extraction, while allowing the tannin levels to be micro-managed.
Only French oak barrels are used, with a preference to use between 65% and 100% new oak barrels and the balance being one to four year old barrels. The winemaking at Barnett Vineyards is undertaken with the utmost care and attention, assuring that the wines possess the ultimate fruit, complexity and well-balanced tannins necessary to age the wines for decades to come.
Barnett Vineyards' first harvest was in 1989 and yielded 232 cases of Cabernet. The winery has expanded gradually since then, selecting outstanding vineyard sites for grapes in addition to those grown on the estate, and now produces approximately 8,000 total cases. Rattlesnake and Spring Mountain District wines, including Merlot and Cabernet Franc, remain the focus with total estate production varying between 5,000 and 6,000 cases annually. In addition, we produce limited amounts Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc sourced from single vineyards located in desired appellations.
Having grown up in Vancouver and Stockton respectively, Fiona and Hal Barnett became enamored with Napa Valley through frequent visits on the weekends. A vision began to form and they decided to purchase a 40-acre property located at the top of Spring Mountain Road in 1983. The first Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted the following year with the intent of producing small amounts of hand-crafted wines that would showcase the unique characteristics found in grapes cultivated on such challenging, high elevation terrain.
For the next nine years Fiona and Hal commuted between San Francisco and their property in St. Helena. Having attained her CPA license, Fiona focused on establishing and promoting the nascent winery, while Hal continued with his real estate development business. Together, they also raised three daughters on the property and remain involved with the day-to-day operations of Barnett Vineyards as active owners.