Celebrating 40+ Years of Authenticity
Their Cabernet Sauvignon might receive most of the kudos, but Merlot will always be king at Farella Vineyard. The Coombsville winery’s Merlot plantings date back to 1979 when Frank Farella moved to the area to become one of Napa Valley’s modern wine pioneers. A Stanford-educated attorney, he established Farella-Park Vineyards in 1985. Today at age 91, he is still going strong, helping his son Tom maintain the now titled Farella Vineyard’s status as one of Napa’s prized small producers and one of the Valley’s original family-owned operations. “We have always grown grapes and made wine suited to our own palates, and in the 70’s and 80’s, that was Merlot,” said Tom, the author of Coombville’s 2009 petition for AVA recognition, granted in 2011. After graduation from UC Davis with a viticulture and enology degree, Tom worked at various wineries in Sonoma, Napa, Oregon, and France before returning home to partner with his dad.
“All of our wines are dedicated to a classic style – a bit European, a bit lighter bodied. Our wines are food-friendly, and each one ages beautifully.”
Today, Tom maintains 26 acres of planted vineyards, and the majority of his grapes are sold to established artisan labels throughout the valley. The remainder are used to produce Farella’s 1,500 annual cases of Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Bordeaux red blend called Alta. The house style is always refined, and after 40 years of stewarding the vines, Tom’s terroir knowledge guides his winemaking. “The keys are always there, regardless of vintage,” said Tom, who two years ago deemed himself ‘vintner,’ naming Ryan Pass as ‘winemaker.’ “Ryan joined me in 2015, and from the beginning, he grasped the goal, the mission, and the subtleties. We were, and are, incredibly in-sync. He is as passionate as I about viticulture and wine production, and our stylistic preferences are the same.”
After more than 40 years of popularity, one might assume that Farella would increase its annual production, but Tom values his hands-on role and does not relish the head- aches inevitably associated with expansion. Current numbers are just right for the San Rafael native who grew-up looking north to the Napa Valley Hills in which he now lives and works. “I believe in the phrase ‘less is more,’” said Tom.
Farella Vineyard wines can be found in some of Napa’s most popular restaurants and distributed throughout New York City, California, Michigan, and Florida. Tastings are held both at the Coombsville winery, where appointments are required, and at Outland, its downtown Napa, no appointment necessary tasting room shared with Poe and Forlorn Hope.
Article By: Fran Miller