The Story of Sequoia Grove


Sequoia Grove Winery is located along St. Helena Highway in the heart of Rutherford. For over 40 years, Sequoia Grove has made food-friendly wines that reflect a true sense of place. But the winery’s history goes back a lot further than that – 135 years to be exact. From fairy rings to an award-winning tasting room, this is the story of Sequoia Grove.

Inspired by Mother Nature


Redwoods are the planet’s tallest trees. Sometimes, they grow in a circle – usually around the stump of a deceased tree. The common name for this is a ‘fairy ring’, and one such ring is on the Sequoia Grove estate – right next to the tasting room. 

“Our property is home to a grove of Sequoia sempervirens, also known as the Coast Redwood. This is why the estate is named Sequoia Grove. At 200 feet tall, these behemoth trees are a magnificent sight to behold,” says Steve Bowden, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the winery. As a fond historian himself, Steve is well-acquainted with the estate’s history. And winery visitors are welcomed with the same facts:

“Our Winery Estate was part of the Rancho Caymus land grant given to George Yount in 1836. As far as we can tell, the property’s third owner, Dennis Downey, introduced winemaking here. He had 40 acres of vineyards and a cellar of 25,000 gallons of wine – a remarkable achievement for the time!” shares Steve. 

The grove of Sequoia trees, hay barn, and the two-story house came later in 1908.

“The property’s owner at the time, Louis Kuebeler, was one of the most progressive growers in the Napa Valley area. He maintained a farm that included a small vineyard, 150 sugar prune trees, three head of stock, and more than 700 White Leghorn hens,” he adds. “In fact, Louis most likely was inspired by the natural ‘fairy rings’ he observed in the Mayacamas mountain range forest, just west of the winery, and mimicked what he saw. But we leave that up to our guests to decide.”

It was not until 1979 that Sequoia Grove Winery as we know it today came into existence. Founders Jim and Steve Allen helped solidify Napa Valley as a place that deserved to be in the company of the world’s greatest wine-growing regions. In 1985 Sequoia Grove was recognized as the “Best American Cabernet Sauvignon.” In 1988, the winery was awarded “Winery of the Year.” As of 2002, Sequoia Grove is owned by the Kopf family who maintains an unwavering focus on quality. With this clear goal, Sequoia Grove Winery invested in updating the production facilities in 2018. The results speak for themselves. The 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was named one of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2018, while the Tasting Room won ‘Best Tasting Room in Napa Valley’ for 2019 and 2020.


A Full Circle Philosophy


Whether the Redwood fairy ring is hand-planted or natural, its significance remains. Steve explains: 

“Sequoia trees are rare on the valley floor. Our winery grove consists of six trees growing in a ring and another dozen or so dotted across the landscape. As you step into the circle, it’s a special sensory experience. The canopy acts as a filter and things feel quieter. It also feels as if the ring goes around forever. To me, the shape of a ring is symbolic of our investment in nature and our holistic approach. It all comes full circle,” he says. 

This sustainable approach forms part of the core of the Sequoia Grove philosophy. The winery commits to being a responsible steward of the land through the ongoing support of green initiatives. This is one of the reasons why they preserved the historic 100-year-old barn, restoring it into their award-winning tasting room. It’s also why Sequoia Grove is certified as a Napa Green Vineyard and Winery. Sequoia Grove Winery is a 1% For the Planet member and donates to Save The Redwoods League to preserve habitat for the endangered coastal redwood trees.

“Sequoia Grove is a Napa Valley leader in sustainability practices. We source our power from 100% renewable energy,” shares Steve. 

Out in the vineyards, the team executes a variety of environmentally-friendly practices. The list includes:  

– Using deficit irrigation

– Farming no-till in alternating rows

– Planting beneficial cover crops in the winter

– Using natural herbicides

– Planting drought-resistant ornamental plants

– Directing stormwater to a bioswale for natural reabsorption into the aquifer

“Intervention in winemaking is when you have to make something better than it is. Our philosophy is to start with the very best grapes by farming the very best land. Then all you have to do is coax the grapes to the finish line,” muses Steve. 


Dedication to Quality

Wine experts say that the best wines in the world are a reflection of where they are grown. Rutherford has the most ideal climate, soils, and location to craft world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. This is why Sequoia Grove offers four focused wine tiers, centered around Cabernet:

– The Napa Valley Series 

– The Winemaker Series

– The Vineyard Series

– Cambium Flagship 

“Think of the tiers as four V’s — Valley, Varietal, Vineyard and Vintage” says Steve. The Napa Valley Series is a great place to start:

“The series only consists of two wines: a Napa Valley Chardonnay and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The tier is distributed nationally and offers an introduction to the world of Sequoia Grove. These wines are food-friendly and over-deliver on quality.  If you see this in a restaurant or wine shop, buy it!  From the first sip, you’ll understand that this is something special.” 

The remaining ranges are only available at the winery or via the online store and wine club. The Winemaker Series focuses primarily on single varietal wines and a Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that uses these varietals as components in the blend. 

“Whether you are in the mood for a Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, or Merlot, this range emphasizes the art and talent of the winemaker. The focus is on expressing varietal characteristics,” explains Steve.

The Vineyard Series is designed to showcase the terroir of notable vineyards across Napa Valley.  When a vineyard name is on the label, 95% of the fruit must come from that vineyard alone. This is perfect if you want to explore how the nuances of a given vineyard site influences the aromas and flavors found in the wine. The tier includes one Cabernet Franc from the Tonella Estate and one Chardonnay. The rest of the wines are all Cabernet Sauvignons from single vineyards such as Tonella, Stagecoach, Morisoli, Henry Brothers, Christian, and Lamoreaux. 

“It’s fun to taste how the location actually changes and influences the flavor of each wine,” states Steve.  “These wines are also the focus of our award-winning Wine & Food pairing programs here at the winery.”

At the very top of our Cabernet Sauvignon craft is Cambium. This is our flagship Cabernet-based Bordeaux-style red blend. Each year, the Cambium blend is made from the best lots and best barrels in the cellar. Cambium can best be described as a portrait of the vintage in a very elegant frame.

“Cambium is a single wine! But that’s how we’ve separated our tiers. The Napa Valley Series focuses on the best of Napa Valley. The Winemaker Series focuses on the varietal. The Vineyard Series focuses on the vineyard. And the Cambium reflects the vintage. There are no barriers, and our winemaking team pushes themselves to the next level each year,” ends Steve. 

From humble beginnings to a flourishing winery under the shade of the towering Sequoias, one thing will never change: Sequoia Grove’s dedication to quality. You are invited to come and experience the beauty of Napa Valley and delight in the perfect blend of wine, food, and friends.