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Joseph Phelps

Browse vintage bottles by Joseph Phelps for sale at auction. Find producer info, wines for sale, and past pricing data from our auction archives.

Joseph Phelps was a man of many talents, interests and passions. Even before his foray into the wine making industry of Napa Valley he was already a successful businessman. As we reflect upon his recent passing, we in the wine industry realize that we have lost a man who contributed a great deal to the wine making industry of Napa Valley. His biography, his blend, his signature taste and style, and some of the wines that he produced truly make his a remarkable life story.


Joseph Phelps was born in Maysville, MO on November 12, 1927. He first of all made his mark in construction before turning to wine making in the 1970's. Starting as a construction engineer, he soon progressed to owning his own lucrative construction company. Phelps was already an avid wine collector with a fully stocked cellar when he secured a contract to build what is now the Rutherford Hill winery near the St. Helena vineyard in California. In 1973, Phelps bought a cattle ranch and began planting vineyards, completing the winery the following year. The rest, as they say, is history. In the 40 years that his winery has been in operation, the Joseph Phelps brand has become synonymous with the utmost in quality.

Celebrating the Typical Grape Blend of Joseph Phelps

Joe Phelps was never one to do things the traditional way. Whether it was construction or the vineyard, the man was always looking for a unique, out-of-the-box way of doing business. Phelps and his winery were among the first to pioneer a new style of wine which was characterized by a ripe style with influences in the Cabernet Sauvignot style. The blend was usually accentuated by Merlot and Cabernet Franc as well.

The Vintage Wines of Joseph Phelps

As an individual who spent nearly forty years in the wine business, there will indeed be a few wine selections from Mr. Fields that are vintage. One of his first efforts was an example of his flagship brand in 1974. He has also had vintage efforts from the 1990's and an example from 2008. Phelps was also one of the first to bottle a varietal Syrah example in the state and was a pioneer in the use of Rhone Red varieties during that decade.

Signature Wines of the Joseph Phelps Vineyard

There can be no doubt that Phelps was a man of innovation no matter what he put his hand to. One of his signature wines was a blend that he called Insignia. Known for its blend of traditional Bordeux grapes, the brand was a first for its time: Phelps actually removed the name of the grape from the brand name. With that bold move, Phelps established his reputation as an innovative vintner of fine California wines.

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