Up close with Philip Norfleet, director of member’s only vineyard, The Napa Valley Reserve
Located in the heart of Napa Valley, The Napa Valley Reserve is framed on all sides by natural boundaries, defining a proportion that’s perfectly suited to a fine wine estate. A private club, The Reserve encompasses eighty acres, with sixty acres planted in grapes, and a state of the art boutique winery all reminiscent of the great wine estates of Europe. All wine on the estate is made exclusively for Members and Members have the ability to participate as much as they would like in the winemaking process.
Unlike a traditional winery with a single label, The Napa Valley Reserve offers Members whom share a common passion for wine, the opportunity to craft their own individual wines under their own distinctive labels. Members of The Reserve Making truly enjoy making wine alongside others who share their passion. With Members originating from thirty states and fifteen countries from around the world, the diversity of labels appears almost curated.
A favorite event for a majority of the Members, is the Auction Napa Valley, held annually at Meadowood Napa Valley, adjacent to The Napa Valley Reserve.
“There’s a great sense of accomplishment in producing a barrel of world-class wine and having it bottled under your own private label,” says the Director of The Napa Valley Reserve, Philip Norfleet. Norfleet’s passion for wine evolved over the course of twenty years while involved in the development of private golf clubs internationally. He wholeheartedly fell in love with the food and wine at the clubs, which were only secondary to the pristine fairways. In 2003, his wine journey began when Bill Harlan, The Napa Reserve’s Founding Partner handpicked Norfleet to be Director for the Estate. Since then, Norfleet has been credited with instituting the popular events series which include the educational programs on the history of wine, winery technology and innovations, label and package design, and the relationship between wine and a variety of topics like food, culture and art. These experiences make every visit to the Club unique. “Of course,” says Norfleet, “we also like to have fun.” Celebrations at The Reserve are created around the appreciation of wine paired with food and each is designed to deliver memories that will last a lifetime.
A favorite event for a majority of the Members, is the Auction Napa Valley, held annually at Meadowood Napa Valley, adjacent to The Napa Valley Reserve. The Auction, which spans four days, unites wine lovers and winemakers in the heart of wine country to celebrate the best that Napa Valley has to offer and includes an all-encompassing insider’s access to some of the region’s most renowned cellars, vintners, wine, and food. It is also one of the world’s most successful charity events benefiting health, youth and affordable housing non-profit programs. More than 250 auction lots are up for bid every year and range from a single case of wine to wine trips and beyond.
Aside from the fall Harvest months, this is one of the busiest times for Norfleet, who must coordinate the welcoming his members both at the winery and at Meadowood for the big event. Members arrive over the course of several days literally from around the world. There are both private and commercial flights to track into several regional airports as well as myriad means of arrival by ground. Many of the wine industry’s most important figures are in town during Auction weekend so Norfleet fields a large number of requests for introductions to vintners, growers and other industry leaders.
Norfleet also finds himself reviewing major auction lots with the members, discerning their individual interests and discussing bidding strategies for the items that will provide them with unique access to wines and personal experiences.
“Our Members are a very generous set and often among the highest bidders of the day. They enter the tent with their favorite lots flagged and their bidding strategies in place and we never miss the opportunity to cheer them on,” says Norfleet proudly. Everyone at The Reserve feels a keen responsibility to the community that has given so much to them. Everyone is united to benefit the community of colleagues and friends in the Napa Valley.