Ilsley Winery Trade Page

Ilsley Vineyards


From the Silverado Trail, in the heart of the Stags Leap District, Ilsley Vineyards climbs east into the Vaca Mountains. Originally planted by the Downey family prior to 1900, the Estate vineyard now consists of 17 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 acres of Malbec, 2 acres of Sangiovese and 1 acre of Petite Verdot.

The thin rocky hillside soils and southwestern exposure produce balanced fruit with structure, concentration and complexity. Malbec, Petite Verdot and 10 unique blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon, each planted to different combinations of clone and rootstock, allow us to select only the finest lots for our limited production Ilsley Vineyards Wines. The remaining grapes, normally more than 80% of the Estate's production, are sold to local wineries. Since 1966, our family has sold grapes to Robert Mondovi Winery. Today the list also includes Shafer Vineyards, Benessere Vineyards, and Salvestrin Winery.

The grapes we grow and the wines they produce exhibit the experience of three generations of our family farming this special vineyard.

By David Ilsley, Vineyard Manager

Janice, Ernie, and I grew up helping our dad in the vineyard. We spent weekends and vacations learning how to plant vines, prune, and drive tractors. I loved being outside and watching how the plants grew and changed throughout the season. As I grew older, working in the vineyard was a good job with flexible hours that allowed me to play sports in High School. Football gave me the chance to attend at the University of Washington in Seattle where I graduated with a degree in Political Science and played in three Rose Bowls as a member of the football team.  Seattle was a great city but I always new I wanted to move back to the Napa Valley and grow wine grapes.

When I moved back home, many of the vineyards in the valley, including ours, were dying due to the phyloxphera root louse. I was working at Pina Vineyard Management where I learned about phyloxphera resistant rootstocks as well as different grape varieties and clones. Our family vineyard was replanted and the new vines were planted closer together with new rootstocks and clones that would perform best in our vineyard.  As the new vines matured we saw the potential to make really special wines and the only way to truly realize that potential was to create our own wines at Ilsley Vineyards. After years working in our family vineyard we have found the best vineyard blocks to select the grapes for Ilsley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and Seis Primas.