Cabernet Franc Melchior Kemper Vineyard – 2018



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
  • Soils: Rhyolite (volcanic sand)
  • Cabernet Franc block named for Melchior Kemper, who purchased the ranch from Levi Philander Davis in 1881 for $2,350 in gold coin
Harvest Notes
  • Mild 2018 spring with just enough rain accumulation over winter
  • Bud break and flowering a bit late, even weather conditions of abundant filtered light and even fruit set
  • Filtered light due to wildfires elsewhere in California, creating layer of smoke very far up in atmosphere which reduced UV rays 30% – but never reached ground level to interact with grapes
  • Relatively mild summer and fall, with few days above 100º F and even, moderate temperatures ensured slow, gentle ripening
  • Hand harvested September 26, 2018
  • Natural, wild yeast fermentation
  • Fermented dry
  • Aged 18 months in 50% new, 50% used French oak barrels
  • Bottled unfined and unfiltered April 13, 2020
Winemaker's Notes

A perennial blending component of our Reserve wines of the past, this 2018 is our first major release of a 100% Cabernet Franc and we could not be more delighted with this weightless, sublime beauty! It has intoxicating aromas of violets and juniper berries. On the palate it is seamless, ethereal, and long. It is like fine, transparent silk blowing gently in the wind. Flavors of cranberry and cedar ripple and weave, lingering for minutes.

Wine Summary

100% Cabernet Franc; alcohol: 13.8%; single block of Cabernet Franc at 800 feet; grown in Rhyolite (volcanic sand) soils; hand harvested on 9/26/2018; fermented with only native yeasts; malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels, 50% new, 50% used; aged 18 months; bottled unfined and unfiltered on 4/13/2020.

Technical Information
  • 100% Cabernet Franc
  • Alcohol: 13.8%


96 Points

Brothers Scott and Randy Snowden assumed responsibility for the family property after their father Wayne’s death in 1977. Today, Scott’s daughter Diana Snowden Seysses makes the wines and is also oenologist at Burgundy’s Domaine Dujac (she is married to Jeremy Seysses). The Cabernet Franc is impeccable: an elegant swirl of red plums, raspberry briars, woodland, camphor and spices. Both subtle and complex, it’s a vivid wine that Snowden Seysses says ‘waits quietly for you to notice it.’  2022 – 2037

Decanter, September, 2022

(90 - 93) Points

The 2018 Cabernet Franc is an absolutely gorgeous wine in this range. This is a beautifully layered, vertical wine with tons of nuance and complexity. Although the 2018 is naturally very young, it has tons of potential. Hints of rose petal, mint and bright red cherry add brightness as the wine opens up in the glass. This is a very intriguing Franc.

Vinous - Antonio Galloni, January, 2020

91 Points

This sports some bright savory details amid its core of cassis and damson plum fruit, with a sparkle of tobacco leaf on the focused, loam-tinged finish. Best from 2022 through 2033.

Wine Spectator, October, 2021

91 Points

The 2018 Cabernet Franc Melchior Kemper Vineyard speaks in quiet, hushed tones. Dried flowers, mocha, spice, mint and rose petal are all nicely lifted. There is good aromatic presence and plenty of varietal character, but like the Merlot, it is a bit on the light side. 2023 – 2033

Vinous - Antonio Galloni, January, 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)