The Ehlers Estate Story
The story of Ehlers Estate is one of passion, patience, and hard work, intertwined like the tendrils of robust vines that have been part of the landscape here since the mid-1800s.
It was the lure of winemaking that tempted Bernard Ehlers to buy a small, dying vineyard in the late 1800s and embark on a quest to create the winery that continues to bear his name. He replanted his newly-acquired 10-acre vineyard, established the olive grove that still thrives today and in 1886 completed construction of the stone barn that is now our beautiful winery building and tasting room. His original Bale Mill Winery continued to operate long after his death, run by his wife until the 1920s and then by successive new owners who took advantage of its prime location and unique terroir.
A century later, another husband and wife team discovered the lure of this idyllic spot in the heart of the Napa Valley. French entrepreneurs and philanthropists Jean and Sylviane Leducq saw the potential for this region to produce wines with the power, balance and structure of the finest Bordeaux bottlings they knew and loved. Over several decades they patiently built a contiguous wine estate – common for French chateaux but increasingly rare in California.
With the help of renowned enologist, Jacques Boissenot, they gradually acquired individual local vineyards as they came up for sale and replanted with the most suitable clones and rootstock. By the turn of the century they had created the 42-acre estate we farm today, with Bernard Ehlers’ original stone barn and vineyard at its heart and the Ehlers name once again poised to grace wine labels. The 21st Century began with the release of the very first vintage from the Leducq’s new Ehlers Estate.
Developing the winery had become a passion project for Jean and Sylviane, one they shared long after the sale of their other successful businesses in Europe. Their legacy remains in safe hands today under the leadership of our current winemaker, Kevin Morrisey, who was favored by Sylviane because he shares the same passion for creating sophisticated wines with an old-world charm that capture the character and heritage of our land.
Ehlers Estate continues a proud tradition of farming with experienced vineyard and cellar teams that share a non-interventionist winemaking philosophy firmly rooted in the belief that terroir defines a wine, but passion, patience and hard work are needed to ensure that it is fully expressed in the bottle.
Our organic vineyard practices leave a minimal footprint on the land and give us maximum flavor in the grapes. Taking advantage of the robust Estate ecosystem and carefully-chosen rootstocks, our vineyard crew coaxes the vines to fully express the numerous soil types and microclimates found on the estate. Once the grapes are harvested, the cellar crew knows when to be hands on and when to let nature takes its course as the wines ferment, develop and age.