Our family venture into the wine business started just a few years ago in 2000. After living in the beautiful Napa Valley for 20 years and enjoying the fruits of everyone else’s labors, Bart and Cynthia Barthélemy decided to join the fun. Since then, they've found that not only is it fun but very hard work! They asked their daughter, Angelique, and her husband, Jason, if they would like to join forces and help build and grow the new company. The idea was to take a different path than most of the vintners in the wine business and become a port-only winery. Varietal ports, made from the wonderful, high-quality grapes grown in California that would focus on the individual traits of each varietal. The former horse pastures on Bart and Cynthia’s ranch overlooking Lake Berryessa in the eastern hills of Napa Valley have been planted with Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Viognier grapes and are now mature enough to be part of our production. Now, seventeen years later, Bart oversees the company and the winemaking, Until his sudden and untimely passing in August, 2014, Jason was Winery Manager and assisted in the winemaking. Cynthia keeps the grandkids in line and helps with it all! We are grateful to be able to work along side each other and see the satisfying results of hard work and new ideas.
While we cultivated our own vineyards in the hills of eastern Napa Valley, dedicated to growing grapes for our ports, we have sought out local vineyards producing high quality grapes. We have forged strong relationships with other grape growers in order to harvest the best quality grapes at the high ripeness levels we seek. The hand-harvested grapes arrive at the winery picked much later in the season than grapes used for a still wine. The longer "hang time" of up to one additional month on the vine allows the grapes to become fully mature and gain more intense varietal flavors. At the winery, we use taste as the main factor when deciding to stop the fermentation process. Combined with testing the juice’s natural sugar content, daily tastings determine the optimum time to fortify with brandy. We then add the finest quality aged, double-distilled alembic brandy to raise the alcohol content and halt the natural fermentation of the wine. The wine, now a port, is then put into oak barrels to age for a minimum of 36 months and marry the flavor components. After bottling, the port is laid to rest for at least one additional year before release to the public.
In the Bottle
At St. Barthélemy Cellars, we strive to make ports that showcase the wonderful fruit flavors of the many grape varieties grown in California. Our goal is to produce varietal ports with lower residual sugar levels so that the grape’s natural and unique varietal characteristics are not masked by an overly sweet quality. Traditional Ports usually have a residual sugar of 12-14% whereas our ports are 5-8 % residual sugar. We have succeeded in creating a portfolio of seven premium varietal ports; Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel, with additional varieties to be released in the future. All of our ports can be enjoyed with a wide range of food pairings or simply savored on their own. Rich and full-bodied, each wine’s flavors are enhanced by the aged brandy and low residual sugar. The complexity of our ports allows you to enjoy them now or age them in your cellar for another five years or more.