PHILIP TOGNI VINEYARD, Spring Mountain, Napa

Philip Togni leads Napa’s camp of ‘old-school’ Cabernet producers.  A student of Emile Peynaud at the University of Bordeaux in the 1950s, Togni earned his Diplôme National d’Oenologie and worked at Château Lascombes.  In 1959, Philip arrived in California following a stint in Chile.  He worked at Mayacamas (pre-Travers), Chalone (their 1st winemaker), Chappellet, and others through the 1960s & ‘70s.  1983 was the first vintage from Philip Togni Vineyard.

By the early 1990s, Togni was focusing on his now iconic ‘Margaux-style’ Cabernet Sauvignon, crafted with varying proportions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  Together with his wife Birgitta and daughter Lisa, they produce exclusively estate-bottled wines from 10 acres of vineyard on the 25-acre property where they have lived since 1975, 2000 feet above St. Helena on Spring Mountain.

Togni’s beautifully balanced Cabernets have become known for their ability to age for decades while maintaining poise, elegance and remarkable complexity.  Every year, a small quantity of 10-year-old Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon is released, illustrating the ageability and drinking-timeline of the wine.  Tanbark Hill is declassified in the style of a Bordeaux ‘2nd wine’.  With little or no ‘press wine’ included, it’s an earlier-drinking Cab suitable for restaurants.  Ca’ Togni is a sweet wine (Black Hamburg) from a 1/4 acre parcel of old vines.

Lisa Togni joined her parents full-time in 2000, after earning an MBA, and working vintages in Bordeaux (Leoville-Barton) and Australia, as well as sales & admin roles in California.  Sharing Bordeaux experience and her father’s patient, long-view, generational perspective, Lisa honours one of California’s true legacies.

To hear Geoff Kruth's interview with legendary California winemaker Philip Togni on his 60-year career—from the 1950s to the present day, click here to go to the GuildSomm podcast.