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Events PR News and Press Releases

Hart Davis Hart to Auction Joseph Phelps Historic Wine Collection

Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. announce the auction of historic wines from The Personal Estate of Joseph Phelps being offered in their December 18 & 19 Auction of Finest & Rarest Wines. A towering figure in the history of Napa Valley winemaking, Phelps passed in 2015, leaving behind a distinguished wine collection.

Joe Phelps was an active collector for decades, acquiring bottles from his Napa neighbors, friends, and from reputable merchants and auctions. Provenance, condition, and storage was of great importance to him, and his wines remained at the winery or in his custom temperature-controlled home cellar, where they have laid undisturbed. Original receipts, ledgers, and note cards detailing many of his purchases spanning fifty years were provided to HDH by the family.

This vast cellar features over 5,000 bottles of highly sought Bordeaux and Burgundy, along with Rhône and Champagne, and includes a remarkable and unprecedented selection of rare Napa bottlings. Not to be missed is a vertical of Joseph Phelps Insignia encompassing 18 vintages, six bottles of the legendary 1974 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, a single bottle of the historic 1865 Château Lafite Rothschild, and two bottles of the highly sought 1980 Richebourg, Henri Jayer.

Following a successful career in construction, Joe Phelps became a vintner in 1973 when he founded his namesake winery, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, on the site of a former cattle ranch just outside of St. Helena, Napa Valley. He quickly created a legacy in the wine world with his proprietary named red Bordeaux-style blend, Insignia, in 1974. At the time, it was an unorthodox approach, but helped open doors for the region to produce bold, dramatic, and age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. Along with introducing his now iconic Insignia, Phelps spearheaded the use of Rhône varieties and was the first to bottle a varietally labeled Syrah in California, also from the 1974 vintage. He had an interest in Burgundy as well, and helped popularize Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while also producing unique dessert wines from Riesling, Sémillon, Gewürztraminer and Scheurebe.

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