Nestled along a small creek on the slopes of Diamond Mountain in Napa Valley, Diamond Creek was one of the first producers in California to focus on terroir-driven, site-specific Cabernet Sauvignon. Planted in 1968 with suitcase clones proprietor Al Brounstein smuggled in from Bordeaux via Mexico, Brounstein quickly noticed the huge variation in soil types his 80 acre property contained. From fine, pale volcanic ash to rocky cobblestones and red volcanic clay Brounstein knew that these variations in soil could ultimately translate to the wine itself. This led to Diamond Creek bottling three separate site-designate wines since their inaugural 1972 vintage, with a sporadic fourth bottling arriving with the 1978 vintage.
The decision to separate grapes from such a relatively small site received ample push back and ridicule from the retail and wine community, as much of the wine at the time were blends coming from the valley floor. Despite this, Diamond Creek soon gained a reputation for making concentrated wines with ample structure and incredible aging potential. As the reputation of Diamond Creek grew, Brounstein made strategic decisions to charge premium prices while prioritizing quality over growth. In many ways Diamond Creek was an early template for the “cult” wineries that dominate the upper echelons of Napa Valley today. Diamond Creek continues to produce some of the greatest wines in Napa Valley under the guidance of Al Broustein’s widow Boots Brounstein, her son Phil Ross, and winemaker Phil Steinschreiber.
The main three bottlings from Diamond Creek reflect the dominant soil types found on the property. Each plot is planted in mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Volcanic Hill comes from a warm 8 acre plot at the top of the property and is composed of fine ash from an ancient volcanic eruption. Volcanic Hill tends to be a wine where dense fruit and spice is perfectly married to significant structure, a package that is destined for great things after decades of patience. Red Rock Terrace comes from 7 acres directly below the winery and is composed of heavily weathered volcanic rock, leading to a more readily accessible wine with ripe fruit and softer tannin. Gravelly Meadow comes from 5 cooler acres further down the property with well-drained alluvial soils creating exceptionally low yields and wines with concentrated fruit, earth, and spice. Two small plots of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot are planted even further down at the coolest section of the property. The Petit Verdot goes into the regal Volcanic Hill bottling while the Cabernet plot is bottled separately as the Lake only during exceptional years.