Bryant Family Vineyard
|Bryant Family Vineyard|
|Location||St. Helena, California (Pritchard Hill), USA|
|Appellation||St. Helena AVA|
|Key people||Donald L. Bryant Jr., Proprietor
Bettina S. Bryant, President
Marc Gagnon, Winemaker
David Abreu, Viticulturist
Michel Rolland, Consulting Enologist
|Known for||Bryant Family Vineyard
|Varietals||Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot|
|Tasting||not available for tastings or tours|
Known for their 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines grown on their Pritchard Hill estate, Bryant Family Vineyard was one of the original cult wines to emerge during the early 1990s, along with wineries such as Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, and Colgin. Low production levels, high quality and high demand for the wines have driven prices to the upper echelon of wines produced in the United States, and Bryant Family Vineyard has established itself as the American equivalent of a first growth wine.
As of 2009, Bryant Family Vineyard produces two additional labels, "BETTINA" and "DB4". BETTINA is a parallel wine to Bryant Family Vineyard, made of grapes purchased from some of viticulturist David Abreu's vineyard sites. DB4 is a second wine, made of declassified wine from both BETTINA and Bryant Family Vineyard labels.
In 1985, Donald L. Bryant Jr. purchased the current site of the vineyard and winery with the intention of building a home. After learning that the site held excellent potential for grape growing, the decision was made to plant a vineyard at the location. The first vintage was released in 1992 with winemaker Helen Turley at the helm. Through the 1990s, the wines became part of the cult wine phenomenon, propelling Bryant Family Vineyard into cult winery status along with a number of other Napa Valley wineries, driving up prices and demand. The 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 wines scored 97, 98, 99, 99 and 100 points, respectively, on Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, thus solidifying the winery's status as one of the top Cabernet Sauvignon producers in the United States.
In the early 2000s the winery experienced some turmoil, beginning with Helen Turley's well-publicized lawsuit against Donald Bryant over her firing. In the following years, Phillippe Melka took over winemaking duties, followed by other well-known names such as Mark Aubert (2007-2009 vintages), Ross Wallace (2010 vintage), Helen Keplinger (2011 vintage) and Todd Alexander (2012 & 2013 vintages). Marc Gagnon is the current winemaker. Most recently, Marc was the Assistant Winemaker for Screaming Eagle and has also held winemaking positions at New Zealand’s Craggy Range and Napa’s Round Pond Estate.
Influential critic Robert Parker Jr., has remarked about Bryant, "The wine from this hillside vineyard near Napa's Pritchard Hill, has already become mythical (1992 was the debut vintage). This is a wine of world-class quality, and is certainly as complete and potentially complex as any first-growth Bordeaux...It is not too much to suggest that in the future, Bryant's Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon might well be one of the wines that redefines greatness in Cabernet Sauvignon." Critic Antonio Galloni, who has taken over Robert Parker Jr.'s role in scoring California wines for the Wine Advocate as of 2011, has stated, "Bryant is without question one of the most spectacular vineyards in Napa Valley. I don’t see any reason why the Cabernets that emerge from this property shouldn’t be among the top 5-10 wines in the valley each and every year."
Bryant Family Vineyard overlooks Lake Hennessey and has approximately 13 acres under vine, all planted to 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine itself is called "Bryant Family Vineyard." BETTINA wine is composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from some of David Abreu's vineyards. DB4 is the second wine for Bryant Family, consisting of declassified wine from Bryant Family Vineyard and BETTINA.
Bryant Family Vineyard wines are highly allocated, scarce and difficult to acquire. Acquisition is achieved primarily through direct sale via the winery mailing list. There is a very limited amount available at high end wine merchants and restaurants in the United States.
- Chung, Juliet (September 11, 2009). "The Museum Downstairs: Donald Bryant's Upper East Side Duplex Doubles as his personal art gallery". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
- Food & Wine Magazine (January 2004). "Cult Worship".
- "Napa Valley Classification: First and Second Growths". Fine Magazine. November 2009.
- "Interview: Don Bryant of Bryant Family Vineyard". Decanter Magazine. December 2012.
- "The Cults". Wine Zap. March 2005.
- "Wine Advocate Reviews". Wine Advocate. various. Check date values in:
- "Helen Turley Sues Bryant Family Vineyard Over Her Departure". Wine Spectator. March 2003.
- "Helen Turley Testifies in Suit Against Bryant Family Vineyard". Wine Spectator. March 2004.
- "Wine Advocate Issue #120". Wine Advocate issue #120. December 1998.
- "Wine Advocate Issue #132". Wine Advocate issue #132. December 2000.
- "Wine Advocate Issue #204". Wine Advocate issue #204. December 2012.
- "Bryant Wines". Bryant Family Vineyard Wines. December 2012.
- "Bryant Family Vineyard Wines". Ibid.. December 2012.