Shhh! We can’t tell you…

First, let me tell you the background and idea behind the name.

#SECRET – who doesn’t love a secret? Secrets can be complicated though, they can be exciting but they can also be dangerous. Ironically, in the wine business there are very few secrets either regarding winemaking or vineyards. We all want to feel as though we have some knowledge that is not available to just anyone. Our secrets – – – we have to know you really well to tell them all to you.

#DOOR – most of the time we think of doors as entrances but they can also deny entry (locked). It’s the possibility of access that makes a door a powerful symbol. “What’s on the other side, anyway?” we ask ourselves. A door defines the point where access may occur. They can be open in two ways – they can stand open showing what’s on the other side and they can be unlocked but closed requiring effort to pass through. Wines (we think) are like an unlocked door – they require effort to open and understand completely but the effort is rewarded when the wine is truly special.

SECRET DOOR WINERY – we are not an estate winery, meaning the grapes we use to produce our wines are not from our own properties. The winemaker – Donald Patz – is very familiar with this type of winery. First, looking for an interesting vineyard and second working closely with the vineyard owner and manager to produce the kind of quality needed to make an extraordinary wine.

It is very possible to get the very highest quality from vineyards who sell their grapes. There are several independent growers who are very well known in the Napa Valley for extraordinary grapes – examples like Beckstoffer and Abreu come immediately to mind but they are not the only sources capable of delivering superb Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. We have searched out very special spots in the Napa Valley to purchase Cabernet Sauvignon. If there are any secrets – they revolve around places where the location/soil/microclimate come together with the right selection of grapes and a vineyard team capable of getting the most out of it all.

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is no secret. The little Napa Valley in California consistently produces the most complex and intense Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the state and is one of the greatest regions in the world for this grape. Mr. Patz has long desired to have a Cabernet Sauvignon wine from the very highest level of grape sources and in 2017 those sources became available.

More SECRETS to follow.

Exclusively Napa Valley Vineyards


Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in many places throughout California and the world, including its home in Bordeaux, France. We could have chosen to make Cabernet Sauvignon in several quality areas of California but we chose the Napa Valley.

We say “exclusively” Napa Valley because we are anchored in this valley. It’s important to know the core principles by which you intend to pursue your dreams and this is ours. Napa Valley only. Cabernet Sauvignon only. While we don’t own the vineyard sources for our wines we do have long term contracts and an excellent set of growers who are willing and eager to grow the quality Cabernet Sauvignon needed for SECRET DOOR.

The Napa Valley has proven itself a world-class locale for Cabernet Sauvignon and certain parts of the Napa Valley are clearly the best of the best! The complexity of the soils that underlie the vineyards, the hillsides and the flatter sites, the local knowledge of how to get the absolute best out of a particular piece of land, all lend to the impressive consistency of the Napa Valley.

We love the character of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. That’s not to say every one we’ve ever had! The style we want to make and we want to share with you is classical Napa Valley or as one wine writer has declared it Neo-classical Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It means somewhat less alcoholic and more structural and definitely not sweet. This style we believe really unlocks the best of what the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has to offer. Wines made like this are not only beautiful and perfumed in their youth but gain stature and depth with proper aging.

All this and more is why SECRET DOOR WINERY is committed exclusively to Napa Valley – and to it’s greatest expression Cabernet Sauvignon.

Updates From The Cellar

June 15, 2018

The wines from both the Hirondelle Vineyard and from Sage Ridge Vineyard continue to sleep peacefully through the summer in the cool wine cellar. The current work is continuing to top the barrels and watch the developing chemistry carefully. All is well. The 2017’s are right on track.

That’s not the only work we are doing. This is already prep-time for the 2018 harvest. We are viewing the vineyards and making sure that we, as best we can, have an idea of how much fruit will be coming in to make this vintage. Simultaneously, we are considering what number of barrels and other equipment will be necessary to compliment the grapes we expect to receive. Barrel orders are in – we expect to again use 100% new French Oak barrels for aging the 2018 vintage. We’ve got some favorite barrels from 2017 and we are requesting more of those barrels for 2018.

We need more grape bins for collecting the grapes in the vineyard and transporting them to the winery. These are 1000 lb capacity macro-bins made out of quality food-grade plastic. The list of “needs” for any harvest just goes on and on – but it is a fun puzzle to get all the pieces to fit together at the winery just right.

Next step – final prep for the harvest and then here come the grapes! Our currently target date for harvest is the last week of September but there are a lot of things that could change that.



April 11, 2018

We have been regularly topping the Cabernet Sauvignon from Hirondelle Vineyard and the Sage Ridge Vineyard. This is important to reduce oxidation and prevent spoilage organisms from flourishing in the new wine. We currently expect that both wines will be bottled in the summer of 2019. They currently rest in 100% new French oak barrels from several different barrel makers. We fully intend to make two different Cabernet Sauvignon wines in 2017 based on the two single vineyard sites.

Interestingly, the Hirondelle Vineyard currently is the more open of the two wines. It shows lots of floral and berry-like aromas along with that distinctive cassis note that announces Cabernet Sauvignon is here. The tannins are full and quite apparent right now but also harmonious. It’s tempting to think of it as drinkable now! On the other side of the curve, the Sage Ridge Vineyard is becoming more compact and angular at the present time. It’s initial exuberant fruitiness is closing down and it’s taken on a tougher tannic feel. This is really typical of hillside Cabernet Sauvignon. We expect in six to eight months more of barrel time the Sage Ridge Vineyard will begin to reemerge and show some development.


February 6, 2018

The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon wines get their first rack. Tasting really good! We were topping the Cabernet Sauvignon and taking it to the cold cellar to rest. Funny thing. Once the wine makes it to Barrel there’s not a lot to show! There they are. Two lots – “Stags Leap District” from Hirondelle Vineyard and “Napa Valley” from Sage Ridge Vineyard. We’ll be tasting them regularly but bottling will be in 2019!