Exclusive: Joel Gott Wines Buys Napa’s Historic Edge Hill Winery


Joel Gott Wines has purchased Napa’s historic Edge Hill property from Rudd Estate. The deal includes 25 acres, 6 of which are planted to a red field blend, as well as a retrofitted three-story stone winery built in 1867, existing inventory and the Edge Hill name. The purchase price was not disclosed.

“This property is one of the most important wineries in Napa,” said Gott Wines proprietor Joel Gott. “We are all very excited about bringing it back to life, [and] honoring the direction that the Rudd family started.”

Gott is a fourth-generation vintner who founded his eponymous brand in 1996, building his reputation as a value-oriented vintner with wines made from primarily purchased grapes in California, Oregon and Washington. The company also owns multiple California vineyards. Joel’s wife, Sarah, oversees winemaking. Gott’s California Sauvignon Blanc has made multiple appearances in Wine Spectator‘s Top 100 Wines of the Year.

The Gotts plan to make a red wine from the Edge Hill estate vineyard. Gott is partnering with Trinchero Family Estates on this project; TFE has managed Gott’s distribution, sales and marketing since 2009. The Edge Hill property adds to Gott’s vineyard holdings, which include about 200 acres of vines planted in Sonoma and the Sierra Foothills. Between Joel Gott Wines and partnerships such as Bandit Wines and The Show, Gott’s company makes more than 1 million cases of wine a year.

Located in the western hills of St. Helena, Edge Hill was founded in 1876, and is considered the oldest three-level gravity-fed winery in Napa Valley, predating Greystone Cellars, Far Niente and Inglenook. It was a working winery in the 1800s and a family home post-Prohibition.

When Leslie Rudd acquired the property in 1999, he hired a historian to piece together its history. From native Wappo land it become part of the Rancho Carne Humana Mexican Land Grant of 1841. Its wine history begins in 1867 when Gen. Erasmus Keyes purchased 1,500 acres of land and started planting grapes, built a winery and named the estate Edge Hill.

The property changed hands multiple times before 1900, including to the Heath family (when it was briefly known as Heath Cellars), then William Scheffler, who was an ambitious brandy producer, bringing a vacuum still to the property and creating Registered Distillery No. 209. Production had stopped by 1907, when parcels of the property were sold off.

Edge Hill]

Edge Hill has six acres of vines west of St. Helena, planted with a field blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignane and Alicante Bouchet. (James Gott)

After Prohibition, the winery had a second life as a family home. In 1952 Louis and Elizabeth Martini of Napa’s Louis Martini Winery moved into the old Edge Hill winery. They sold the now 27-acre parcel to Leslie and Susie Rudd in 1999. Replanting by Rudd began in early 2001—a field blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignane and Alicante Bouchet to reflect what would have been planted there when the winery was established. Rudd bottled and sold this blend under the Edge Hill name, along with a Chardonnay from the Bacigalupi Vineyard in Russian River Valley.

Gott plans to finish construction of the winery this year. “We will make the 2022 at our Hoffman Lane winery in Yountville,” he explained. “Then be up and ready for production and hospitality in 2023.”

Before he passed away in 2018, Rudd hired architect Howard Backen to restore the winery. Following Rudd’s death, daughter Samantha Rudd has taken over the family businesses. Her decision to sell was part of her plan to concentrate on Rudd Estate and other projects.

“It’s [Gott’s] time to steward the land and continue the history. It’s my time to focus on other things,” said Rudd. She adds that she can understand her father’s vision and excitement for the property, which he originally purchased as a retirement home. “I hope to have my own Edge Hill at some point, however that looks.”

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