3 Pioneer Wine Producers of the Mayacamas Mountains

Tasting notes from three important Napa Valley Wineries

Diamond Creek Vineyards
Founded in 1968, Diamond Creek is California’s first exclusively cabernet sauvignon estate vineyard. The first vintage was 1972. Visionary pioneer Al Brounstein defied conventions and planted Bordeaux varietals on secluded Diamond Mountain. Four separate vineyards — Volcanic Hill, Red Rock Terrace, Gravelly Meadow, and Lake — produce a small amount of long-lived wines that are elegant with great depth and richness. Later a small amount of petit verdot was planted and since 1999 this has been blended into all the wines and now accounts for 2 to 3 percent of each bottling.

Below are notes on some older Diamond Creek Cabernets tasted there as well as notes on the 2010s tasted from barrel.

2000 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace Napa Valley
Dark in color this Red Rock Terrace has an earthy berry-tinged perfume with a hint of cedar. It is rounded and supple with a plummy fruit showing hints of earth and cedar. Balanced with a nice finish this wine is nice to drink now and should hold for many more years — Recommended Plus.

2001 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill Napa Valley
Dark in color, this wine has a deep perfume showing plum like fruit with hints of earth and cedar. It is rich, rounded and supple showing plum like fruit tinged with hints of spice and a faint dusty undertone. The underlying tannins are balanced and while the wine is approaching maturity, it is still a few years away — Highly Recommended.

2004 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill Napa Valley
Dark in color with a deep perfume of cassis and plums with a kiss of vanilla and spice, this Volcanic Hill is a baby. It has lots of deep rich fruit and balanced tannin, but will repay aging for at least five more years — Outstanding.

2005 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill Napa Valley
A classic Volcanic Hill, this wine is very dark in color and has a stunning perfume of cassis plum and cedar. With great intensity and fruit, the wine is rich with great structure and a very long finish — Outstanding Plus.

2006 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Gravelly Meadow Napa Valley
Dark in color, this wine has a deep perfume with a faint dusty quality. On the palate it is rounded and balanced with lovely cedar tinged plum like fruit. Already appealing, this Gravelly Meadow should age for many years — Highly Recommended Plus.

Barrel Samples: 2010 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
The notes below are based on tasting from one barrel of each wine. The wines are listed in the order tasted. At the time of my tasting the decision whether or not to bottle the Lake separately had not been made. Since the first vintage bottling in 1978, Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has been made in only 13 vintages. After the tasting, my recommendation was to bottle the Lake separately. I think this is the likely outcome. If so, that would make 2010 the 14th bottling of Lake in the last 32 years.

2010 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Lake Napa Valley
Seven barrels of this wine were produced in 2010. It is really stunning. The color is very dark and there is a gorgeous perfume of cassis and mulberry with floral nuances and a kiss of spice. The wine is rich and lush with great complex fruit showing blackberry and cassis with hints of plum cedar and spice. Beautifully balanced this 2010 Lake is yet another classic in the making — Exceptional Potential.

2010 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill Napa Valley
This is a rich wine packed with fruit. It is very dark in color and has a deep perfume of cassis and blackberry with a touch of spice. There is lots of spice-tinged fruit and the wine is tannic but balanced with richness and depth. This should be a terrific Volcanic Hill — Outstanding Plus Potential.

2010 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Gravelly Meadow Napa Valley
Very dark in color, this Gravelly Meadow shows a deep perfume of plum and cassis with a touch of spice. With gorgeous fruit and lovely balance, this wine is seductive and rich yet with elegance — Outstanding Plus Potential.

2010 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace Napa Valley
Very dark in color, this is a lovely Red Rock Terrace with a lovely berry perfume accented by a faint floral spiciness. With gorgeous fruit and balance this wine will likely show very well in its youth but also has the structure to age for many years — Outstanding Potential.