This bold style first appealed to Randy when he started drinking wine while living in Europe in the 1970s, where he raced Formula Three cars. His interest in wine led his palate first to Bordeaux, then to fuller-bodied reds from the Rhône Valley, such as those by E. Guigal.
Once in Napa, Lewis realized that to achieve the kind of power and finesse he desired, he needed very ripe grapes. Helen Turley, owner of Marcassin and the architect of Napa Cabernet powerhouses such as Bryant Family and Colgin, shared a piece of advice that stuck with him: Be patient and let the grapes hang until the desired peak, when flavor and tannin texture reach a sweet spot.
All of the fruit for the Lewis wines is purchased. Of the five Cabernets in the lineup, Hillstone, from a hillside site in Rutherford, is the only single-site bottling. Cuvee L, Reserve, Mason’s and the Napa Valley bottling—our Wine of the Year—routinely share a handful of sites; in most years, lots from any given vineyards could end up in any given wine. Hillstone and the blends are all aged in 100 percent new French oak. The best barrels go into the Reserve and Cuvee L bottlings. That one of Lewis’ most affordable Cabernets emerged a star speaks to the overall success of the winemaking decisions.