Winemaker Chris Phelps grew up in the hills of the Livermore Valley, east of San Francisco, in a family of wine lovers. His early interest in winemaking grew out of his parents' practice of making a barrel or two of Zinfandel or Cabernet for family and friends. Chris attended UC Davis with the sensible plan of becoming a doctor. However, his love of wine and France pulled him into the school's Enology and Viticulture program, an internship at Louis M. Martini in Napa Valley, and the world of professional winemaking.
From there, Chris then embarked on a 16-month sojourn in Bordeaux, where he met Christian Moueix, who persuaded him to stay on to manage the 1982 harvest at Château des Laurets, in the Puisseguin-St. Emilion district of Bordeaux. It was during this trial-by-fire experience that Chris met his mentor, the brilliant Jean-Claude Berrouet, who served for 44 years as the winemaker of Chateau Petrus. To this day, Chris still credits much of his inspiration as a winemaker and his solid understanding of the technical challenges of the winemaking craft to Berrouet's tutelage. Upon returning to Napa Valley, Chris spent twelve years as winemaker at Dominus, as part of the Berrouet-Moueix team. He considers the 1991 and 1994 vintages to be among the greatest wines he has helped to create. He then spent seven years at Caymus Vineyards, managing all red winemaking from 1999 through 2002.
Ad Vivum (Latin for "toward wine") Cabernet Sauvignon is made from one small micro-block of vines at Sleeping Lady Vineyard, in Yountville, Napa Valley. The vines are located at the vineyard's uppermost western perimeter along the Mayacamas Mountains. Row orientation is southwestnortheast. The vineyard is sustainably and meticulously farmed by the Bettinelli family. The soil profile shows Keefers dark gravelly-sandy clay loam of alluvial origin.
ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - "The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Sleeping Lady Vineyard is pliant, succulent and super-inviting. Dark cherry, plum, lavender and sweet spice notes are all given an extra kick of plushness in a gracious, silky Cabernet that captures the essence of Sleeping Lady. The purity of the fruit alone is striking. Perfumed, suave and wonderfully detailed, the 2016 is exquisitely beautiful. When I think of reference-point wines from Sleeping Lady, Chris Phelps' Cabernet is very often on top of my mind."