ST. HELENA, Calif., Nov. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Joseph Phelps Vineyards' 2002 Insignia has been ranked the #1 Wine of the Year in the Wine Spectator's year- end review of the top 100 wines tasted in 2005. Marvin R. Shanken, Wine Spectator's editor and publisher, explains that 12,400 wines from around the world are blind tasted and narrowed down to a thousand, then a hundred, then the top 10. The first Phelps Insignia was produced from the 1974 vintage, and its release in 1978 signified the first time a California winery had produced a blend of traditional Bordeaux grape varieties under a proprietary label. In the early years, Insignia was sourced from independent growers, but beginning in 1989 much of the blend came from estate-owned vineyards in the Stag's Leap District and Rutherford Bench. The goal of transitioning over to a domaine-based wine will be realized with the 2004 vintage, when 100% of the fruit will be estate grown. Insignia has been produced every year since 1974 and, according to the Wine Spectator, "has earned an outstanding score in 26 of its 29 vintages." In 1997, the 1994 Insignia was ranked #3 in the Wine Spectator's Top 100 (Nos. 1 and 2 were Ports), and in 2000 the 1997 Insignia was ranked #5. Joseph Phelps, who headed Hensel Phelps Construction Company out of Greeley, Colorado, came to the Napa Valley in the early 70's to build Souverain Winery. In 1973, he subsequently founded his own winery a few miles southeast of St. Helena off the Silverado Trail. In addition to producing Insignia, Phelps is also known for his pioneering work with Syrah, a Rhone varietal that had been virtually forgotten in this country until he commercially released a 1974 Syrah in the fall of 1977. Phelps's latest venture is the development of 80 acres of Pinot Noir and 19 acres of Chardonnay in the Freestone area of Sonoma County, along with the construction of a small winery, which is estimated to be completed by the 2007 harvest. William Phelps, Joe's son, has recently been named Chairman of Joseph Phelps Vineyards; Tom Shelton is President and CEO; and Craig Williams, who will be celebrating his 30th anniversary at Phelps next year, is Executive Vice-President and Director of Winemaking.
SOURCE Joseph Phelps Vineyards