Like the Vines of Atlas Peak, VinRoc Continues to Thrive
Over 20 years ago, Michael Parmenter and Kiky Lee constructed a home, planted vines, dug a cave, and built a winery high on the east slope of Napa Valley,
nestled below the majestic Atlas Peak. Their property and home of their award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, away from the crowds on Highway 29 and Silverado Trail, is known for having one of the most “visually stunning” views of the heart of Atlas Peak. It’s hard to believe fires raged through the area two short years ago.
VinRoc is a small boutique family-owned and operated winery with a hands-on approach. Parmenter handles the vineyard management and winemaking himself, while Lee, a creative and artistic talent, is responsible for marketing and design.
If Parmenter were pressed to name a challenge, it would be growing grapes in the rocky volcanic soil. But the terrain has its rewards. Their estate vineyard isn’t vigorous, producing small clusters and berries with low yields of less than two tons an acre. Because the vines have to struggle in volcanic rock and red soil, there is no need to stress the already strained vines to enhance quality. The result of the rocky hillside vineyard is an intense Cabernet Sauvignon, the hallmark of VinRoc.
The grapes from their estate vineyard are harvested in separate one or two-ton batches, which sometimes take weeks to complete to ensure that each ton has reached the optimum maturity. The individual batches are fermented and barreled separately and aged for two years in French oak. Parmenter himself tracks each batch throughout the winemaking process before being blended for bottling. The outcome: a highly-complex and balanced wine with a limited production of fewer than 1,000 cases per year.
VISITING THE ATLAS PEAK LOCATION
“Atlas Peak is one of Napa’s larger appellations,” Parmenter proclaims. “I was president of the association for a time. Some in the wine business didn’t even know where it was back then. It was mostly growers up there, as there are now, and the grapes are in demand from many well-known Napa Valley wineries. It’s truly a ‘significant’ wine scene.”
The name VinRoc is a nod to the rocks found throughout the mountain vineyard. With elevations around 1,600 feet, high above the rest of Napa Valley, the vineyard benefits from warm days and cool nights, which are perfect for wine grapes. Their rockhewn wine cave is ideal for aging their wine, as well as proving to be a secure haven from natural disaster, allowing VinRoc to continue to thrive.
A limited number of tasting appointments to visit VinRoc are available each week and must be scheduled and booked in advance. It is a true destination winery “with more coyotes than tourists,” Parmenter explained. As far as the fire that destroyed their home and other buildings, Parmenter and Lee look on the bright side of things and quip “After losing everything, now it’s easier to pack.”
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