Green & Red Vineyard
From Andy Pates: "I have been a longtime fan of this unsung Napa estate located in secluded Chiles Valley. This is way before I first visited and failed to convince Jay Heminway to join our portfolio in the early days of cream circa 2001. We are talking way way back, when Mark and I were selling wine for Vintage in the 1990s. The days of wine and roses, unlimited Kermit burgs and cult Cali.
Then and now Green & Red just hits different. Old vines with rustic soul and singularity. High elevation fruit that balances concentration and finesse. These were the wines I would buy personally in shops and restaurants or trade open bottles with friends and colleagues post big retail tastings.
The wine world is a small one and things usually come full circle. I was thrilled when Jay’s daughter Tobin, now proprietor, reached out and wanted Cream to represent her family business and father’s legacy in Illinois. What a huge honor. We just received the first shipment. Our team and I are excited to show you these wines and represent this Napa Valley treasure alongside other fellow heritage vine heroes Joel Peterson (Once & Future) and Morgan Peterson (Bedrock). Ain’t no school like the old school. When can we taste?"
In 1967, founder Jay Heminway was living in Berkeley, teaching sculpture at U.C. Berkeley, and right in the eye of the 1960s storm—dead center in the summer of love, of the free speech movement, of anti war protests, psychedelia, and a reawakening of so many to the beautiful and complex world around them. There were so many things wafting through that fine California air, but one part of this Berkeley movement was a renewed appreciation, among a tight knit group of friends, for local, authentic food and wine. Bob Wax, Patty Curtan, John Lilly, Alice Waters, and Jay Heminway were a part of this merry group of friends. Provençal cuisine, with its emphasis on using the freshest local vegetables, herbs and ingredients, found its loadstar at Chez Panisse, opened by Alice. Some of this band helped start Berkeley’s Cheese Board, while others went in different directions. While some went “up the country” to find their path, Jay Heminway headed to Napa Valley.
Cruising up the Silverado Trail towards Rutherford, where Beaulieu and Inglenook were crafting world class wines, Jay took a right turn on Route 128, drove past Lake Hennessy, and up into the hills of Chiles Valley. What Heminway found there was nirvana—although it was a little hard to see it at first. When Jay purchased the hardscrabble property in 1969, it included a hunting cabin, a burned down barn, and an abandoned Fleetwood Cadillac. On one of his rambles, Jay stumbled upon the remains of century-old vines from the old Rancho Catacula. Soon Jay was planting gorgeous Zinfandel and other varieties at his vineyard, now named Green & Red after the local red chert based soils and oceanic green serpentine veins running through the property.
Jay first planted was The Chiles Mill Vineyard, situated at 800-1,000 feet above sea level and named after the historic Chiles Grist Mill, which was the first flour mill in Northern California and built by Joseph B. Chiles in 1845. Then Green & Red added Catacula Vineyard, a nine-acre vineyard, sitting at 1,200-1,400 feet, named after the original vineyards there from Rancho Catacula planted in the late 1800s. Indeed, to this day, a single vine remains from that early vineyard and still produces grapes. Finally, Jay reached high up into the sky and planted Tip Top Vineyard, sitting at 1,800-2,000 feet, at the very top of this mountainside property, with views all around; Pritchard Hill out to central Napa Valley and up to Saint Helena in the west, with Chiles Valley extending into the distance below in the east.
Green & Red’s first public vintage (1977) was made using a simple basket press and was bottled by hand, with Jay’s daughter Tobin on hand to help cork the bottles, one by one. In addition to making and selling estate grown wine, Green & Red also shares its bounty with certain good friends in the wine community who purchase the fruit to make their own award winning wines. Good friends, Biale Vineyards, Scribe, Brown Estate, and Joel Peterson of Once & Future work with them every year. Additionally, Larry Turley and Winemaker Tegan Passalaqua issue a Turley Heminway Vineyards Zinfandel bottling each year, utilizing amazing fruit from Green & Red’s Tip Top Vineyard. And we would be remiss if we did not mention the great honor of supplying the house wine to Green & Red’s longtime friends at Chez Panisse, where they offer up a Zinfandel specially bottled and labeled for the restaurant.
About Tobin Heminway: In 2019, Jay passed away leaving Green & Red in the hands of his daughter, Tobin Heminway. Tobin grew up between the vines at Green & Red. Prior to taking over the vineyard operations, Tobin lived in New York where she produced and edited films with a degree from NYU. Eventually she transitioned to operating Nest Decor, a successful interior design firm in New York and Rhode Island. Jay and Tobin had long planned for her to take charge at Green & Red, and Tobin has been active for many years, working annual harvests and tending the bottling line.
About Winemaker Aaron Whitlatch: Growing up in central Illinois, Aaron's grandparents instilled in him a passion for farming, as well as all things rustic and genuine. He started at Green & Red after five vintages as the assistant winemaker at Mayacamas, renowned for making wines in a classic style from organically farmed vineyards. Before focusing on winemaking, Whitlatch worked as a biotech scientist and as a viticulturist.