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8 Things You Need To Know About Duckhorn Vineyards

Since its launch in 1976, Duckhorn Vineyards has been a pillar of Napa Valley wine. The winery, founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn, was a pioneer in Napa Valley Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, working with several now-legendary vineyards. Now, the Duckhorn portfolio has expanded to include wineries in Sonoma, Anderson Valley, and Washington State, producing a wide range of varieties and blends from different terroirs. And even if you aren’t familiar with the winery’s popular expressions of Merlot, you’ve probably encountered its iconic duck-adorned labels at restaurants or wine shops.

With such an expansive selection of wines, there’s so much more to know about this winery beyond the majestic mallard that graces the label. Here are eight things you should know about Duckhorn Vineyards.

Duckhorn was one of the first 40 wineries in Napa Valley.

The Duckhorns purchased their original 10-acre property in St. Helena in the ‘70s to establish Duckhorn Vineyards, cementing the winery’s status as one of the first 40 wineries in the now-historic Napa Valley. The couple named the land “Marlee’s Vineyard” after Margaret’s nickname. This property was and remains the Duckhorn Vineyards Estate House, which guests can now visit for tastings.

They are champions of Napa Valley’s other red grape.

While Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are both esteemed in their home region of Bordeaux, Cab is king is Napa Valley. But Duckhorn Vineyards decided early on to focus on crafting a luxury bottling of Merlot stateside. In 1979, the winery released its inaugural bottling of Merlot, and this now-iconic wine has played an essential role in establishing Merlot as one of North America’s greatest varieties.

Duckhorn makes wines that express single-vineyard sites.

For Duckhorn’s first vintage, the staff made Merlot using grapes from the Three Palms Vineyard in Calistoga, Calif. The Three Palms Vineyard has since become a benchmark for Merlot in the U.S. It offers favorable soil composition and elevation, as well as a unique layer of volcanic stones lying atop the vineyard, which absorb the sun’s heat during the day and deliver it back to the vines at night. This helps protect against frost and ripen the fruit. Duckhorn was so taken with the wines produced by this highly coveted site that in 2015 it finally acquired the vineyard. Three Palms is now the crown jewel of Duckhorn’s Estate program.

Duckhorn’s signature mallard is anatomically correct.

When the winery refreshed its branding in the early aughts, design company CF Napa consulted with a nature artist to correctly recreate the iconic Duckhorn mallard logo. The new logo reflects an anatomically correct duck, doing right by its namesake animal.

Duckhorn isn’t the only duck-emblazoned brand you’ll see from this producer.

Over the years, Duckhorn Vineyards expanded its portfolio to produce several different wine brands. These labels offer an array of products representative of all the state has to offer, from high-end Napa Valley blends at Paraduxx to more approachable California bottlings from Decoy for everyday drinking. The Duckhorn portfolio also makes cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Sonoma-based Migration as well as Goldeneye in Anderson Valley. The portfolio even dips its toe in Washington wines with Canvasback, where they explore the potential for luxury Cabernet Sauvignon in Washington’s diverse terroirs. What do all these wine brands have in common? They all stay on-theme with duck-inspired names and labels.

The Duckhorn portfolio is committed to sustainability.

As one of North America’s premier producers, Duckhorn is dedicated to implementing responsible, sustainable practices in its vineyards. The portfolio releases an annual report that summarizes its continued efforts to improve its environmentally focused practices at its vineyards and wineries. Duckhorn’s portfolio has earned several key certifications, including LEED Gold certification at Goldeneye Winery, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) certification for the estate vineyards on Mt. Harlan, and Fish Friendly Farming (FFF) certification at all of its North Coast Estate vineyards.

Duckhorn’s estates prioritize hospitality.

For the first 20 years it was open, Duckhorn Vineyards only offered tastings by appointment. But in 1999, the family broke ground on the official Duckhorn Vineyards Estate House and Tasting Room next to Marlee’s Vineyard in St. Helena. The charming Estate House opened in 2001, providing a place for visitors to enjoy intimate wine tastings and setting a standard for Napa Valley hospitality. Now, visitors can book a range of tastings including the new Marlee’s Signature Tasting curated in honor of Margaret Duckhorn, who passed away in 2022.

Two of Duckhorn’s other estates, Goldeneye and Paraduxx, also have tasting rooms surrounded by stunning vineyards for guests to admire as they sample their wines.

The Duckhorn Estates have an impressive event lineup.

Each winery in the Duckhorn portfolio hosts a wide range of events for visitors to imbibe at. Some of the upcoming festivities include a dinner with “Top Chef”’s Tanya Holland at the Migration winery as part of its ongoing Farm to Fork Celebrity Chef Series, a Masters of Merlot pairing dinner at Duckhorn Vineyards, and even a wine cruise through Portugal, France, Spain, and the U.K. featuring Duckhorn’s finest wines.

Can’t make it to any of these events? You can create your own Duckhorn pairing experience at home. If you head to Duckhorn Vineyards’ website, there’s an entire page dedicated to recipes and pairing suggestions.

The article 8 Things You Need To Know About Duckhorn Vineyards appeared first on VinePair.

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