The famous Eisele Vineyard is located east of Calistoga in the northeast Napa Valley. Its genesis lies in the 1880's when Riesling and Zinfandel were cultivated rather than Cabernet Sauvignon, which was eventually planted in 1964 (low-yielding Saint George rootstock.) From 1969, Eisele was owned by Milt and Barbara Eisel who initially sold their fruit to co-operatives before realizing their grapes were too good for such an ignominious fate.
Several single-estate bottlings appeared during the 1970's, including Ridge in 1971, Conn Creek in 1974 and Joseph Phelps between 1975 and 1991. Phelps bottled Eisele separately but sometimes used the grapes in his own blend (for example the 1976 "Insignia" which is almost entirely sourced from Eisele.) A small plot of Syrah was planted in 1978 but subsequently grafted with Cabernet in 1986, although approximately one hundred recalcitrant vines failed to "take on" the regrafted Cabernet and continued producing Syrah, a tiny amount bottled in 1991 and 1993 and expanded thereafter.
In 1989, the Eisels sold their vineyard to William Farley, CEO of Fruit of the Loom, but Farley decided that winemaking was not his thing (doh!) In 1990 it was purchased by Bart and Daphne Araujo, although that year's crop was sold to Phelps, making 1991 their inaugural vintage. They initiated a replanting program, augmenting the Cabernet with a little Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, as well as improving the clonal selection and the winery itself. Seeking outside help, they enlisted Tony Soter to make the wine, who three years later handed the reins to his protogéeFrançoise Peschon, who had spent part of her training at Château Haut Brion and Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.
In 1999, Michel Rolland was brought in as consultant oenologist and thereafter sorting became more rigorous, yields were lowered further and native yeasts were employed. Moreover they implemented biodynamic principles in 2000, following in the footsteps of Anne-Claude Leflaive and Nicolas Joly.
The Eisele Vineyard is located on a south-facing alluvial fan in Simmons Creek, with the Palisades Mountains offering protection to the north and blessed with prevailing cool breeze from the Russian River Valley via the Chalk Hill Gap. The 15-hectare vineyard has a rocky soil that forces vines to struggle and bare complex, concentrated fruit. A second wine was introduced in 1999 entitled "Altagracia" as well as small releases of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. "Neal Martin " The Wine Advocate