Under-the-Radar and Oh So Fine: Sill Family Vineyards Wine

When Napa Valley’s Oakville Grocery stocked its wine shelves with the best representatives of each Napa AVA (American Viticultural Area), it selected Sill Family Vineyards to represent Atlas Peak. The small production, ultra-premium label is a favorite of titans of industry, respected political leaders, and A list celebrities, who know they can find the award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Rosé at lauded establishments such as The French Laundry, Solage Resort, Montecito’s San Ysidro Ranch, Lucky’s steak house, and now, at Oakville Grocery.

Despite being a favorite of the glitterati and sharing shelf space with other iconic Napa Valley wines, Sill Family Vineyards flies under the Napa Valley wine radar, and owner and winemaker Igor Sill thinks that’s just fine. The former private equity investor produces only 600 cases annually, a limit imposed simply by the small size of his Atlas Peak Vineyard that sits at 1,650 feet. Known for its volcanic soils and pure air cleansed by San Francisco Bay breezes, the vineyard’s elevation provides longer sun exposure, greater UV, and cooler nights, characteristics that serve to create wines that are considerably different from those produced within the valley floor. Longer hang times produce fruit that is bolder, with greater red-fruit characteristics. Atlas Peak wines, and specifically Sill Family Vineyards wines, are defined by profound complexity, depth, elegance, and character.

Sill’s Atlas Peak vineyard has 30-year old vines growing in soil over 2.5 million years old, and Wow, how the linking of this unique terroir brings out the finest expression of truly superb wines! Bill Alvarez

Sill uses an artisan, Old-World approach in crafting his Bordeaux and Burgundian style wines. “It takes extra work, and many more steps, not to mention that our volcanic, organic vineyards are extremely difficult to plant and farm, but it is worth it,” said Sill. Year after year, his wines turn the heads of wine critics and collectors worldwide. Robert Parker extended a 97 points rating to Sill Family Vineyards’ 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon vintage, and Wine Spectator rated it 98 points. Sill’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon received the coveted CWSA 2018 Wine of the Year award, the Double Gold Medal.

“Mountain grapes are far more difficult to farm and the growing season tends to be considerably longer,” echoed celebrated Bordeaux-based oenologist Michel Rolland. “It’s much more difficult to plant, more difficult to establish the vines and they produce far lower yields; however, the end result is a grape expressing intensity of stellar quality as difficult growing conditions often lead to extraordinary wines.”

“Sill’s Atlas Peak vineyard has 30-year old vines growing in soil over 2.5 million years old, and Wow, how the linking of this unique terroir brings out the finest expression of truly superb wines!” added world renown wine critic Bill Alvarez.

But it’s not only the high quality that attracts fans. Sill’s ready accessibility is equally appealing. In a culture that increasingly places winemakers on pedestals, Sill remains humble, approachable, and ready to talk wine with whomever is interested. Gregarious and amiable, Sill will gladly explain how his passion for Bordeaux wines developed. (The result of an introduction to Château Margaux, Château Latour, and Château Lafite Rothschild in the 1970s.) He’ll share how he worked with Francois Pinault’s Group Artemis for nearly a decade before becoming a Court of Master Sommelier and earning a Masters at Oxford University’s Merton College and studying viticulture at UC Davis. He will detail his work at V. Sattui Winery and Opus One Winery. He will gladly expound on why Atlas Peak wines are the best, and he’s got the awards to prove it.

“Winemakers believe that the land speaks to us of possibilities,” said Sill “My sole ambition is to fully express those possibilities, capturing the very best of what Atlas Peak’s magical land offers.”


Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.