Single-Vineyard, Single-Varietal 2019 Lagrein is Here: The Story Behind this Special Bottle

Posted: March 16, 2023

For years, we took great pride in farming what we thought were the two best blocks of Malbec and Petit Verdot in the entire Napa Valley, located in the heart of our hillside Leopoldina Vineyard. After completing his first harvest with us in 2007, Winemaker Peter Heitz was excited to dream up new opportunities to highlight these vineyard blocks in Turnbull’s winemaking—truly, these were the best-tasting Malbec and Petit Verdot grapes he had ever worked with.

As the life cycle of these vines resumed the following year, with spring bud break progressing to new leaf growth, Peter was shocked when he noticed their uncharacteristically dark purple leaf shoots as they unfurled. Though marked on the vineyard map as Malbec and Petit Verdot vines, these were clones—or perhaps a new varietal—Peter (and second looks by his viticulturalist friends) had never seen before.

In 2010, after several rounds of genetic testing with the world-renowned viticulture team at U.C. Davis, we learned to our great surprise and delight, that we had been wrong the whole time: these divine vines were, in fact, Lagrein grapes.

Smuggled into Napa Valley by notorious grape smugglers in the 1970s, Lagrein is known as the great power grape of the Alto Adige region of northern Italy. In our winemaking, Lagrein has become a mainstay component of our Bonne Vivante bottling each year, adding opulence and signature red fruit “razzle-dazzle.”

Since our pivotal discovery on the Leopoldina Vineyard nearly ten years ago, we have waited patiently for the right moment to bottle this magic sauce varietal entirely on its own. As one of our most fascinating—albeit uncommon—varietals that we farm, that moment would have to be perfect. We knew our opportunity had arrived when four barrels of our 2019 vintage Lagrein presented themselves like unicorns in the cellar.

Otherworldly aromatics entrance the nose, revealing a wine that simultaneously dazzles with ebullient fruits and audacious dark opulence. On the palate, huckleberry fusion and dollops of blackberry transcend with effortless purity, making for the richest and most delicious mouthfeel. This is a wine that wanted to be made, to capture its magic-like bioluminescence in bottle, compelling each sip.

We are convinced this is the future of great Napa Valley grape growing and winemaking, and we are delighted to share the inaugural release of our single-vineyard, single-varietal 2019 Leopoldina Vineyard Lagrein with you, with our Turnbull faithful.