Cabernet Franc Melchior Kemper Vineyard – 2019



Since 1955, the Snowdens have farmed their vineyard high above the Napa Valley. In addition to the stunning views of St. Helena, Rutherford and the San Francisco Bay, the estate offers four separate sites producing remarkably complex and individualistic wines. Winemaking duties are in the capable hands of Diana Snowden Seysses. The winery produces Bordeaux blends from their estate vineyards and a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc from a small parcel they call the Lost Vineyard.

The Wine

Vineyard Profile

962 vines from a single acre of Cabernet Franc at 800 feet. Vineyard named for the person who owned and farmed the ranch from 1881 to 1895.

  • Soils: Rhyolite (volcanic sand)
  • Melchior Kemper purchased the ranch from Levi Philander Davis in 1881 for $2,350 in gold coin
Harvest Notes
  • 2019 growing season began with much-needed rains
  • Water reserves replenished, vines grew quickly
  • Intensive vineyard work to keep up with ground vegetation & canopy management
  • Removal of lateral shoots & excess fruit critical to maintain balance
  • Even growing season without heat spikes even in fall
  • Harvests at leisure, chosen at optimal ripeness, resulting in generous and plush wines with exceptional aromatic complexity
  • Hand harvested 9/20/2019
  • Wild yeast fermented
  • Aged 17 months in 50% new French oak barrels
  • Bottled 4/12/2021
Winemaker's Notes

Time and experience have taught us that our Cabernet Franc particularly benefits from both time in bottle and then in the decanter. For the first few minutes after opening, the wine is subdued, as if waiting to be sought out. But then time and air begin to work their magic and the Cabernet Franc unfolds. The aromatics are dazzling. 2019 shows more dark fruit than red, as well as plums with mocha. The tannins become imperceptible and the palate broad, generous and ample.

Wine Summary

100% Cabernet Franc; 14.5% alcohol; single block of Cabernet Franc at 800 feet; grown in Rhyolite (volcanic sand) soils; hand harvested on 9/30/2019; fermented with only indigenous yeasts; malolactic fermentation in 50% new French oak barrels; aged 17 months; bottled unfined and unfiltered on 4/12/2021.

Technical Information
  • 100% Cabernet Franc
  • Alcohol:  14.5%


91 Points

Snowden’s 2019 Cabernet Franc Melchior Kemper Vineyard is vaguely floral on the nose, then adds hints of star anise and black cherries. It’s more herbal on the palate, with notes of tobacco, mint and dusty earth. This complex, medium to full-bodied red seems almost airy in feel, with silky tannins on the finish. 2022 – 2035

© Wine Advocate, May, 2022

90 Points

Aromas of earth, baked cherry, dried herbs and dried orange peel. Medium-bodied with soft tannins. Straightforward, juicy and tasty. Drink now., June, 2022

93 Points

The 2019 Cabernet Franc from the Melchior Kemper Vineyard is made like all of the
Snowden Vineyards’ wines, with indigenous yeast fermentation, no acid or water additions and aging in French oak casks prior to bottling without filtration. The wine comes in at 14.5 percent octane this year and offers up a bouquet of cassis, dark berries, cigar ash, a nice base of soil tones, a touch of tobacco leaf and a judicious framing of cedary oak. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and gently extracted, with a lovely core of fruit, good soil undertow, ripe, fine-grained tannins and a long, complex and very nicely balanced finish that closes with just a hint of heat. This is a lovely wine in the making. 2030 – 2075+

View From The Cellar, December, 2022

General Info

Country USA
Region Napa Valley
Appellation(s) Napa Valley
Proprietors Scott and Joann Snowden and Randy and Janet Snowden, managing directors of Snowden Vineyards
Founded 1955
Winemaker Diana Snowden-Seysses
Annual Production 2,900 9L cases
Farming (Sustainable, organic, biodynamic) Sustainable (including no chemical herbicides used in vineyards)