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Joseph Phelps: Vineyards, Best Wines, Prices (2021)

By
Hunter Robillard
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Keen on exploring the breathtaking Joseph Phelps Vineyard estate and their exceptional wines?


Joseph Phelps is one of the most famous Napa Valley wine estates producing a range of critically-acclaimed wines for almost half a century.


Interestingly, the winery pioneered the first California red Bordeaux-style blends and Syrah and Rhone-style blends (later sold to Randy Pura and Ventana Vineyards.)


But what is the secret behind the iconic Joseph Phelps brand?


Let’s dive into the winery’s history, vineyards, and the best Joseph Phelps wines to buy in 2021. We’ll also show you the easiest way you can invest in them.

Further reading

Want to become a fine wine investment expert? Check out this Ultimate Guide to Wine Investing to get started.
Looking for a delicious wine for your next big party? Try these Shiraz red wines or these elegant White Gewurztraminer bottles.

This Article Contains:

(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)

  1. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia 1974, Napa Valley
  2. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia 1984, Napa Valley
  3. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Heinemann Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir 1975
  4. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1975
  5. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1979
  6. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
  7. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Selected Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling 1976
  8. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Backus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1978
  9. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Backus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
  10. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Delice du Semillon 1997

The Renowned Joseph Phelps Winery

Joseph Phelps Winery

The Joseph Phelps family owned winery is located in Napa Valley, California. Its founder was a successful contractor and entrepreneur who managed his own construction company in Colorado before he fell in love with the craft of winemaking.


The estate’s flagship wine is the Bordeaux blend Insignia, which critic Robert Parker hailed as “one of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blends.” Although the winery is most famous for its Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wine, it also produces other magnificent wines from these grapes:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah
  • Merlot
  • Chardonnay
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Viognier
  • Scheurebe
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Grenache Rose


Let’s see how this famous estate came into existence.

The History Behind Joseph Phelps

Joseph Phelps Winery

In 1973, Joe Phelps bought a 600-acre cattle ranch near St. Helena in the beautiful Napa Valley. The ranch had no vine plantings, so Phelps planted around 100 acres of prime vineyards.


The winery building was constructed in 1974, and in the same year, Phelps produced his first Insignia wine (made with fruit bought from local grape growers.)


In the 1980s, biodynamic farming practices were introduced on the Joseph Phelps vineyard property.


In the 1990s, Joseph Phelps wanted to expand his vineyard holdings with lands more suited to growing Burgundian-style grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Sonoma Coast climate was perfect for that, so in 1999 he purchased a 200-acre former dairy farm near the town of Freestone, Sonoma County. Phelps replanted the property with young vines.


By 2004, the family owned winery was growing enough grapes to produce its first 100% estate-grown Insignia vintage.


Joseph Phelps passed away in 2015, and his son Bill Phelps took over the management.


The winery opened its grandiose hospitality center in the same year, where you can attend different wine tasting events and wine education lectures. The center also offers a terrace tasting experience that allows you to taste the different Joseph Phelps wines while overlooking the estate’s beautiful vineyards.


Viticulture at Joseph Phelps

Joseph Phelps Winery viticulture

The Joseph Phelps vineyard holdings spread over 425 acres across nine vineyard parcels in Napa Valley:

  • St. Helena
  • Rutherford
  • Carneros
  • Oakville
  • Oak Knoll District
  • Stags Leap District
  • South Napa


The soil in these vineyards is a mix of gravel, pebbles, clay, and volcanic rocks.


On the western Sonoma Coast Freestone estate, Joseph Phelps has 100 acres of vineyard property that includes:

  • The Pastorale vineyard on the Western Sonoma Coast that’s planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir


  • The Quarter Moon Vineyard that’s exclusively planted with the Pinot Noir grape varietal


Joseph Phelps uses the following biodynamic techniques in viticulture:

  • The estate produces its own organic compost.
  • A biodynamic diversity is maintained. Besides the vine plantings, there are fruit trees, flowers, and herbs.
  • The different grape varieties and crops are carefully selected and matched with the most suitable vineyard parcels.


Next, let’s see the Joseph Phelps signature wine styles.

Joseph Phelps Wine Styles

Joseph Phelps Wine Styles

The grape composition in the wine varies from year to year. Joseph Phelps Insignia contains Cabernet Sauvignon grapes predominantly with small amounts of other red Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec.


Joseph Phelps has produced over 34 vintages of the iconic Napa wine - Insignia. There are about 15,000-18,000 cases of Insignia produced annually.


The other famous Joseph Phelps wines include:

  • Joseph Phelps Vineyards Backus: This is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine produced from vineyards near Oakville, Napa.


  • Joseph Phelps Vineyards Freestone Pinot Noir: This Pinot Noir wine is produced from the grapes in the Freestone estate vineyards.


  • Joseph Phelps Vineyards Freestone Chardonnay: An elegant Chardonnay wine from the Sonoma Freestone vineyards.


  • Joseph Phelps Vineyards Freestone Quarter Moon Vineyard Pinot Noir: A single-vineyard Pinot Noir that comes from Freestone’s Quarter Moon Vineyard in Sonoma County


  • Joseph Phelps Vineyards Freestone Pastorale Vineyard Pinot Noir: This is another unique Sonoma Pinot made with grapes exclusively from the Pastorale vineyard.


There was also a Rhone-style blend brand - Le Mistral - but, it was sold to Randy Pura and Ventana Vineyards in 2018.


So, which are the best Joseph Phelps wines you should look out for?

The Most Outstanding Joseph Phelps Wines to Buy in 2021

Joseph Phelps Wine

Here are our top picks of Joseph Phelps for 2021:

1. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia 1974, Napa Valley

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia 1974, Napa Valley

This mature Napa Bordeaux blend is made from grapes from the Oak Knoll, St. Helena, Stags Leap District, and Rutherford vineyards.


The flagship wine has preserved its freshness and developed mild tannin levels and silky texture over the years. There are notes of ripe blackberry, cassis, and fruitcake with hints of chocolate and toffee on the palate.


Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia 1974, Napa Valley: $1,773

2. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia 1984, Napa Valley

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia 1984, Napa Valley

This elegant dry California wine from the 1984 vintage is made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The wine surprises with delightful acidity and grainy tannins. The dominant flavor of black cherry is complemented by subtle notes of wood spice, chocolate, and tobacco.


Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia 1984, Napa Valley: $408

3. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Heinemann Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir 1975

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Heinemann Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir 1975

Here we have a mature Napa Pinot Noir that needs at least two hours of decanting to open up. The rich bouquet of flavors includes licorice, cassis, and black cherry with a leather aftertaste and a superb finish.

Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Heinemann Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir 1975: $290

4. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1975

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1975

This is a traditional Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1975 vintage that has red fruit aromas and beautiful dark fruit tasting notes. This California wine is complex with layers of smoke, earth, and herbal undertones and is a beautiful expression of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.


Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1975: $887

5. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1979

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1979

This Napa red wine blend has a complex nose of red fruit, cherry, and ripe blackberry aromas with intense minerality. On the palate, the wine has pleasant notes of mint, earth, and dark chocolate.


Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1979: $601

6. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

This well-balanced Napa Cabernet Sauvignon surprises with a silky texture and medium tannin levels. The concentrated tasting notes of plum, licorice, and black cherry transition slowly into an oaky vanilla finish.


Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: $700

7. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Selected Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling 1976

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Selected Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling 1976

Here we have a unique Joseph Phelps Riesling with a golden yellow color and oily texture. On the palate, there are sweet flavors of caramel, honeyed apricots, and maple syrup accompanied by slight petroleum undertones.


Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Selected Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling 1976: $317

8. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Backus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1978

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Backus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1978

This intense Napa Cabernet strikes with intense aromas of juicy cherry, cassis, and red fruits. This full-bodied wine has a lively freshness and medium tannin levels. On the palate, it has chocolate, vanilla, and leather tasting notes.


Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Backus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1978: $347

9. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Backus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Backus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

This exceptional Cabernet is still young and fresh with grainy tannins and refreshing acidity. On the palate, the ripe blackberry and dominant cherry flavors complement the subtle aroma of earth, smoke, and licorice.


Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Backus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016:$340

10. Joseph Phelps Vineyards Delice du Semillon 1997

Joseph Phelps Vineyards Delice du Semillon 1997

This beautiful white Napa wine is made with 100% Semillon grapes. The wine has a warm golden color and creamy texture.


The nose is rich with hints of apple and peach. On the palate, layered flavors of toffee, caramel, and honey fade into a long-lasting finish.


Price of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Delice du Semillon 1997: $158


Is Joseph Phelps - one of the world's great wines - a great long-term investment option?

Investing in Joseph Phelps Wines

Investing in Joseph Phelps

Joseph Phelps is a good investment wine with a longevity of about 20-30 years. One of the most iconic wines, the flagship Napa Valley blend Insignia can last well beyond three decades.


Besides all the other accolades from wine critics, the 2002 Insignia vintage won the “Wine of the Year” award from the Wine Spectator magazine.


Joseph Phelps is among the iconic wines which represent a stable investment with a slow and steady price appreciation over time:

  • Joseph Phelps Insignia 2012 grew 9% from $220 in 2019 to $240 in 2021.


  • The rare Joseph Phelps Vineyards Riesling surged by 565%, from $48 in 2020 to $315 in 2021.


Joseph Phelps wines do well at auctions too:

  • At an auction in 2014, 12 bottles of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1978 Napa Valley were sold for $5,795.


  • At a Christie’s auction in 2016, an 11-bottle lot of Joseph Phelps Insignia 1994 sold for $2,083.


So, how can you easily buy a bottle of Joseph Phelps for your wine collection?

Buy Joseph Phelps and Other Fine Wines Through Vinovest

Vinovest

Vinovest is an AI-based wine investment company that helps you buy, sell, authenticate, and store investment-grade wines from Napa, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and other famous wine regions from all over the world.

How Does it Work?

It’s easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Sign up with your name, email, and password.


  1. Fill out a quick questionnaire to determine your investment style (balanced, aggressive, or conservative.)


  1. Fund your account with a minimum of $1,000.


  1. Let Vinovest’s algorithm choose the best investment-grade wines for you and watch your portfolio grow.

Benefits

With Vinovest, you get benefits like:

1. Easy Buying and Selling at the Best Prices

Vinovest’s AI-based platform makes buying and selling great wines from all over the world easier than ever before.


All wines are sourced directly from wine merchants, winemakers, and global wine exchanges - so you get wholesale prices on your favorite wines.

2. Curated Portfolio

You don’t have to be a wine expert to have a successful wine portfolio. Vinovest’s Master Sommeliers combine their expertise with quantitative investment models to curate your portfolio.

3. Authenticity and Provenance

Buying wine online imposes the risk of getting a counterfeit bottle. That’s why Vinovest goes the extra length and traces each bottle’s provenance, and guarantees its authenticity before the money leaves your account.

4. Optimal Storage and Safety

You don’t have to worry about storing your wine collection. Vinovest takes care of that and stores your wine bottles in bonded warehouses that have the optimal light, temperature, humidity, and vibration levels at all times.


To ensure your wine’s safety, all facilities are also equipped with 24/7 surveillance cameras and power backup generators.

5. Low Overall Costs and Tax Advantages

Vinovest charges a low annual fee of 2.85%, which drops to 2.5% for portfolios of over $50,000. The fee covers the buying, selling, and storage of your wines, fraud detection, and portfolio management.


The bonded warehouses also charge no excise duty or VAT, so you get significant tax advantages.

6. Easy Delivery

If you want your bottle delivered to you or a buyer, just let Vinovest know, and they’ll take care of the shipping and insurance details for you.

7. Ownership

The best part is you own every single bottle you buy through Vinovest.

Add a Superior Joseph Phelps Wine to Your Wine Collection

Joseph Phelps
Joseph Phelps Tasting Room

Joseph Phelps is nothing short of an iconic Napa wine producer, and a wine bottle like Insignia would fit perfectly in any wine enthusiast’s collection.


It is also an excellent investment-grade collectible with great aging potential.


The easiest way to get a bottle of Insignia or other fine wines from all around the world is through a wine investment platform like Vinovest.


So, sign up and explore the exciting world of wine that’s awaiting you!

Further reading

Step into the world of fabulous Red Wines in This Incredibly Useful Red Wine Guide!

Written by

Hunter Robillard

Portfolio Advisor at Vinovest with experience in both the fine wine & high end spirits industry. Previously helped wineries, distilleries, and breweries around the world with their production equipment needs. Avid kayaker, skier and a self proclaimed BBQ expert.
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