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.”
The 2 acre vineyard is thriving, so Ken expands to 8 acres.
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.
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
Elkhorn Peak Cellar’s first vintage, 1992 Pinot Noir, is released and met with acclaim from friends and Pinot Noir fans.
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.
We farm 8 acres of premium Pinot Noir grapes on our Estate Vineyard and another 9 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc on an adjacent parcel. We produce 800 cases of wine a year. 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.