Hourglass Estate


  • “Well-known winemaker Bob Foley is the force behind the wines of Hourglass. This tiny vineyard of around five acres is located just north of St. Helena on a gradually sloping hillside somewhat reminiscent of Colgin’s Tychson Hill Vineyard, Vineyard 29, and Revana Vineyard. These hillsides are largely volcanic rock and loamy soil.” (Robert Parker)
  • "Top 100 Most Influential U.S. Winemakers. Robert Foley became a famous winemaker after his stint at Pride Mountain Vineyards, the wines of which were served in the White House by both President Bush and President Clinton. Foley has a clear passion for alternative grapes such as Charbono and Petite Sirah and makes incredibly rich red blends under his own personal brand, Robert Foley Vineyards." (Into Wine)

Basic Info

The Smith family bought the six acre parcel in the St. Helena appellation that eventually became Hourglass in 1976. With no great aspirations to be in the wine business, Ned Smith planted four acres to his favorite wine grape, Zinfandel, with the hope of being able to trade grapes for finished wine. With the vines needing to be replanted, Ned's son Jeff took over the management of the vineyard and concluded that this location could become one of the premier Cabernet sites in Napa County. He explained that Napa Valley is generally shaped like an hourglass, and the hillside site defined the "pinch," or narrowest point of the Valley. Its unique location would provide an unusual growing climate. Of course, there could be no other name for this special place than Hourglass. The Hourglass vineyard was replanted to Cabernet in 1992. Jeff then enlisted the help of family friend (and fellow rock band mate) Bob Foley (Pride Mountain, Switchback Ridge, Paloma, Robert Foley Vineyards), to craft the wines. Bob has provided his deft hand to the project since its first vintage in 1997, adding Hourglass to his stable of exceptional wines. Jeff Smith said later, "with all the early signs in our favor, we still had no assurance we could get this piece of ground to create world class wine. As we started the project our mission statement became: To make wines that didn't suck, in the event we would have to drink them ourselves. To this day we are committed to that lofty goal, but unfortunately we have little wine for ourselves."

Napa Valley
Sub region:
St. Helena
Year founded:
Jeff Smith
Anthony Biagi