Peace, Love & Zinfandel Since 1977
Actually, maybe we need to go further back – to the 1960’s – where all things in the Green & Red story really began. In 1968, founder Jay Heminway was living in Berkeley, teaching sculpture at U.C. Berkeley, and right in the eye of the 1960s storm — dead center in the summer of love, of the free speech movement, of anti war protests, psychedelia, and a reawakening of so many to the beautiful and complex world around them.
There were so many things wafting through that fine California air, but one part of this Berkeley movement was a renewed appreciation, among a tight knit group of friends, for local, authentic food and wine. Bob Wax, Patricia Curtan, John Lilly, Alice Waters, and Jay Heminway were a part of this merry group of friends.
Provençal cuisine, with its emphasis on using the freshest local vegetables, herbs and ingredients, found its loadstar at Chez Panisse, opened by Alice. Some of this band helped found Berkeley’s Cheese Board, while others went in different directions.
While some went “up the country,” to find their path, founder Jay Heminway headed here, to Napa Valley. Cruising up the Silverado Trail, towards Rutherford —where Beaulieu and Inglenook were crafting world class wines — Jay took a right turn on Route 128, drove past Lake Hennessy, and up into the hills of the Vaca Mountain Range.
What Heminway found there was nirvana — although it was a little hard to see it at first. When Jay purchased the hardscrabble property in 1969, it included a cold-water hunting cabin, a burned-down barn, and an abandoned Fleetwood Cadillac.
On one of his rambles, Jay stumbled upon the remains of century-old vines from the old Rancho Catacula. Soon Jay was planting gorgeous Zinfandel and other varieties at his Vineyard, now named Green & Red after the oceanic red chert based soils and veins of green serpentine running through the property.
First planted was The Chiles Mill Vineyard, situated at 800-1000 feet above sea level and named after the historic Chiles Grist Mill — the first flour mill in Northern California, which had been built by Joseph B. Chiles in 1845.
Green & Red’s first public vintage, from 1977, was made using a simple basket press and was bottled by hand, with Jay’s daughter, Tobin, on hand to help cork the bottles, one by one.
Next up, Green & Red added Catacula Vineyard, a nine-acre vineyard, sitting at 1200-1400ft, named after the original vineyards there from Rancho Catacula planted in the late 1800s. Indeed, to this day, a single vine remains from that early vineyard, still producing grapes.
Finally, Jay reached high up into the sky and planted Tip Top Vineyard, sitting at 1800-2000ft, at the very top of this mountainside property, with views all around, out into central Napa Valley and up to Saint Helena in the west, with Chiles Valley extending into the distance below in the east.
In addition to making and selling estate grown wine, Green & Red also shares its bounty with certain good friends in the wine community who purchase our fruit to make their own award winning wines. Good friends, Biale Vineyards, Scribe, Brown Estate, and Joel Peterson of Once & Future work with us every year. Additionally, Larry Turley and Winemaker Tegan Passalaqua issue a Turley Heminway Vineyards Zinfandel bottling each year, utilizing amazing fruit from Green & Red’s Tip Top Vineyard. And as of 2021, Green & Red has been working with John Olney, Shauna Rosenblum, and David Gates of the celebrated Ridge Vineyards, making a Ridge Green & Red Vineyard Zinfandel.
And we would be remiss if we did not mention the great honor of supplying the house wine to Green & Red’s longtime friends at Chez Panisse, where for over 35 years the restaurant has offered up a Zinfandel specially bottled and labeled for Chez Panisse.
In 2019, Jay passed away, leaving Green & Red in the hands of his daughter, Tobin Heminway, who grew up between the vines here at Green & Red. At Tobin’s side are her Husband, Ray Hannigan, Aaron Whitlatch, the Winemaker for Green & Red, Salvador Duran, Vineyard Manager, and Luke Nio, Assistant Winemaker.