Young Inglewood Winery: Napa’s New Old School

Balance – we talk about it all the time and we’re constantly in pursuit of it. Work-life balance; balancing family, friends, and personal time; a balanced budget; salty versus sweet. The same is true in great wine. There’s a tightrope that’s constantly being walked in pursuit of balance in fruit, oak, new world, and old world styles. Enter: Young Inglewood Winery, where balance in winemaking is part of an inspired movement toward the new-old-school Napa.

The realization of a longtime dream for Jim and Jacky Young, Young Inglewood is a family winery in its truest expression. Jim runs all things operations, while their son, Scott, works side-by-side with Jacky as the winemaking team. And the winemaking is what I think really sets Young Inglewood apart from the rest of the pack.

With only 16 acres, the production is small, but the wines are strikingly great and exude a quality that has to be tasted to be believed – words won’t do these justice, as you’ll see. Scott led our tour of the property, focusing on the organic and sustainable farming practices employed by the family, and then took us through a tasting of the wine portfolio in a gorgeous, light-filled tasting room that opened to the modest and chic production facility. Friends and mentees of Steve and Jill Matthiasson, who craft what Scott (and much of the wine community) calls “renegade” Napa wines (meaning they’re pure, moderate in alcohol, focused on terroir, and expressions of the grape varietal – a wild concept for Napa in that we’re so accustomed to big fruit, big oak, and higher alcohol levels), the Young’s focus on producing wines that strive for a similar “renegade” balance. The label – a tightrope walker holding a balance bar – is an homage to this thought, and the wines showcase restraint and balance, of course, in their execution.

All of the wines that Scott poured for us could easily have a whole blog post dedicated to them – they’re that good. In trying to stay concise, I’ll briefly cover tasting notes of the wines we tried. Our tasting opened with the 2017 Vin Clair, a really unique rosé of Malbec that actually looks like rosés you’d find in Provence (more copper than pink), and is unlike any other rosé you’d find in Napa – in fact, you actually wouldn’t be able to guess this was Malbec with its peachy, jasmine, raspberry flavors and its subtly acidic, weighty mouthfeel. We progressed to the 2015 Linda Vista Chardonnay which was out-of-this-world. Reminiscent of a Côte de Beaune Chardonnay, it delicately offered golden apple and pear, twinged with Meyer lemon that rounded into a creamy, concentrated palate after a few extra swirls in the glass. All this and I haven’t even told you about the red wines yet.

The 2014 Right Bank Blend is the definition of Young Inglewood winemaking – a wine that displays elegant balance from equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with small, but important additions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. It’s seductive bouquet is laced with warm baking spices and dried currants, and its layered texture built of finer grained tannins exposes blackberries and ripe figs – excellent now, but worth holding for a while. The 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon demonstrates an incredible focus for its youth. Full of dark plums and hints of ripe black cherries on the mid-palate, this wine finishes long with chocolate, black pepper, dried thyme and tarragon. We ended with the 2015 Petit Verdot, which was fitting because this wine certainly had a penchant for elongating our wine conversation. A single varietal Petit Verdot is not common, and one this good is cause for celebration. It lures you in with a beautiful fruity bouquet – hints of jammy blueberries, ripe Friar plums, and violet flowers followed by a palate of dark cherries, anise, and even pomegranate.

If you want to do something that really enhances your visit to Napa, and helps add a little “balance” to what may be a trip heavy on the big wines, you owe it to yourself to go rogue and head over to Young Inglewood winery in St. Helena.

Location: 1919 Inglewood Avenue, Saint Helena.

Highlights: Excellent, personalized hospitality with winemaker, Scott Young. Gorgeous, bright, and modern tasting salon. Incredible wines.

Must try Wines: 2017 Vin Clair, 2015 Chardonnay Linda Vista Vineyard, 2014 Right Bank Blend, 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

Visit: Open by appointment only. Tour and tasting at $75 per person.