Ken Nerlove holding a lug of grapes in 1987.

OUR STORY

open field

1983

Ken Nerlove and partners purchase an old sheep ranch in Jamieson Canyon, South Napa.

At this time there are no vineyards in Jamieson Canyon. The initial plan is to determine if high quality grapes can be grown in this experimental vineyard location. Ken decides to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, a decision determined by the microclimate of this area: the early morning fog, cool, consistent temperatures and bay side breezes make this location especially well-suited for the growing delicate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

One acre of Chardonnay and one acre of Pinot Noir are planted on the south-facing, gentle rolling slope at the front of the ranch.

 

“Elkhorn Peak Cellars sits high atop Jamieson Canyon, Napa Valley's sweet spot for Pinot Noir, where I planted the first vines.”

-Ken, Grower/Owner

Grape stakes on either side of a dirt road.
Ken Nerlove, 1983. Standing in a vineyard layout.
Ken Nerlove holding a grape cluster in a vinjeyard in 1986.

1986 

The 2 acre vineyard is thriving, so Ken expands to 8 acres.

Faith Nerlove picking grapes with a baby

1987 

First Harvest.

Ken Nerlove holding a lug of grapes above his head. 1987.

1987-1992

Ken’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are sold to the wineries throughout the Napa Valley. Every effort in the vineyard is made to concentrate on vine development instead of fruit production. Ken’s goal is to establish well-developed vines that will produce fruit of the highest quality on a consistent basis.

 

“I tend to my vines meticulously. I farm to their needs. Steller fruit comes from the healthiest vines,” -Ken, Grower/Owner

Elkhorn Peak soon gains a reputation for limited production, high quality fruit and the new Napa growing region of Jamieson Canyon started to gain recognition.

Ken Nerlove on a tractor, hauling macro bins full of grapes..
Kids crushing grapes outside of a barn.

1992

Nearly 10 years after planting his first vines, Ken starts a label of his own: Elkhorn Peak Cellars. The grape grower begins to produce high-quality Pinot Noir with friend and Consulting Winemaker, Kent Rassmussen.

 Elkhorn Peak is named after the Elkhorn Peak Mountain.  At 1336' Elkhorn Peak is the tallest mountain in Jamieson Canyon and is located directly behind our vineyards.

 

"The name of the mountain, as told to me by the 'old timers,' came from Elks being common to this beautiful mountain range many years ago." -Ken, Grower/Owner

Elise Nerlove standing in front of a Pinot Noir vineyard sign.

1995 

Elkhorn Peak Cellar’s first vintage, 1992 Pinot Noir, is released and met with acclaim from friends and Pinot Noir fans.

Ken Nerlove and son, Lucas Nerlove, picking grapes in the vineyard.

2000-2015 

Elkhorn Peak Cellars Pinot Noir (multiple vintages) receives outstanding scores from National wine competitions:
 

90 points, Wine Enthusiast, 2009; 05 PN

​93 points, Beverage Testing Institute, 2011; 08 PN


Double Gold, 2010 SF Chronicle Wine Competition; 07 PN

4 STARS - EXCEPTIONAL, Bev X.com, 2010; 07 PN

See more Elkhorn Peak Cellars’ awards here.

Ken Nerlove standing next to a grapevine post.

TODAY

We farm 10 acres of premium Pinot Noir grapes on our Estate Vineyard. We produce 800 cases of Elkhorn Peak Cellars Pinot Noir from our estate vineyards. We are able to share our wine with our Wine Club and through sales from our website. We are very happy and have no plans to expand; the emphasis is on growing and making limited production, ultra-premium wines.  Our fruit and our wine continue to be one of Napa’s best kept secrets.

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Elkhorn Peak History
Elkhorn Peak Wine