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...What the experts are saying about Tierra Roja Vineyards...


Tierra Roja 2009 Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon by Santé Magazine

100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Rich and deep aromas of jammy black fruit, cassis, dark chocolate, and espresso, with smooth sweet oak, vanilla and baking spice notes. Luscious on the palate, offering cooked blackberry, dark cherry, plum, toffee, and vanilla bean. A touch of black pepper, sandalwood and earthy minerals on the balanced finish. Delicious. Dry aged prime rib roast. [can serve now but will improve with age] [Gold Star] [$301 or more]



The Taste of Oakville event is arguably the toughest affair in Napa Valley to showcase a new wine. Virtually every winery in the district - including the heavy hitters - are there for one afternoon of pouring for an exclusive group of trade guests.

So, when newcomer Tierra Roja dominated a room shared by Harlan Estate, Maybach and Screaming Eagle, we took notice.

This tiny vineyard sits at one of the most famous Cabernet intersections in America at the corner of Oakville Cross Road and the Silverado Trail. Screaming Eagle and Rudd are across the street, and Dalla Valle and Joseph Phelps' Backus property flank it on either side. There is no denying the pedigree of the red earth of Oakville, and Tierra Roja captures it in both name and quality.


Appellation America - All the Wines of North America

Click image to read full article

San Jose Mercury News
A Taste of Oakville

Another standout was the fragrant, savory, fine-textured 2006 Tierra Roja.

Click full story

Premiere Napa Valley
Barrel Tasting & Auction

Tierra RojaAll of Linda Neal’s vineyard management experience is now captured in her own label.  A lovely wine.






I had the opportunity to try your incredible 2005 vintage last night with a
few friends and wrote about it on my wine blog:

2005 Tierra Roja Cabernet Sauvignon
James Heck


Linda Neal ,the owner of Tierra Roja, has over 20 years of vineyard management experience and is actively involved in the vineyard doing a lot of the work herself. The winemaker for Tierra Roja is David DeSante who has a reputation for detailed planning, and execution, leaving nothing to chance.

...Tierra Roja is rich and elegant with beautiful balance, and texture on the palate yet full-bodied and intense. This wine is a classic for the collector or for those that just like to drink incredibly good wine. This wine is evidence that God loves us and wants us to be happy...

If you are a collector of fine wine, you should seek Tierra Roja out, as it is quite memorable.
Click here to read the whole review

 Review by Robert Parker
Wine Advocate # 180
(Dec 2008)

2005  Tierra Roja Cabernet Sauvignon

A Cabernet Sauvignon Dry  Red Table wine from Oakville,Napa,North Coast,California,USA  Score: 93

This complex 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits a deep ruby/plum/purple color, supple tannins, and aromas of cedar, licorice, black currants, and background herbs and oak. The silkiness of the tannins and the savory, broad, sexy mouthfeel are seductive, but the wine is concentrated, beautifully balanced, and lush. Enjoy it over the next 12-14 years. Tel. (707) 944-8720


VINTRUST VINALERT:  Tuesday, September 16, 2008

  2005 Tierra Roja Cabernet Sauvignon

One of my favorite wine events each year is the Taste of Oakville. The line forms early and hundreds wait at the base of the stairs leading to the upper tier of the Robert Mondavi winery barrel room to taste wines from many of the most hallowed wineries in Napa Valley; Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Bond, Ghost Block, Rudd…  

At the 2007 event, there was one name that quickly spread around the room - the two hundred case bottling of a new winery called Tierra Roja; the wine was elegant and pure, with refined tannins and, most importantly, a singular character that separated it from every other wine in the room. The wine was the star of the show.

The same phenomenon took place several months ago when proprietor Linda Neil shared a taste of the not yet released 2005 vintage. This miniscule vineyard is planted on the eastern hillside of the Oakville appellation, at the intersection of Oakville Cross Road and the Silverado Trail. The soil (and hence the name) is the exquisite red soil that lies beneath many of the greatest properties in the valley, including Tierra Roja neighbors Rudd, Screaming Eagle and Dalla Valle. Linda's passion for the property is down to the level of individual vines; she carefully tends the vineyard, looking for the finest fruit that can possibly be shepherded from the vines. Like the 2004, the 2005 is characterized by purity, refinement and balance. We hope you enjoy!

- Jason Alexander


Don's Gillette's Weekly Wine Blog February 10, 2009

Walking in the Red Earth

I woke up last Saturday with teeth gritted, ready to face the rain. Enough was predicted to suggest that frayed nerves and exhaustion would supplant the pleasures of the easy cruise around Napa I had promised my friend Mark.

"There is a God": I mumbled, as I drove past the north pier of the Golden Gate Bridge. Once again the local weather man (possibly after sharing some more ceremonial peyote with his friend and mentor, Don Juan) had the forecast wrong.

This was to be a four winery day and we were planning to be fortified for it. I was heading north to join Mark, who was treating us to breakfast and dinner. Linda Neal, of Tierra Roja Vineyard and Winery, was promising lunch.

Mark's visit had been twice-postponed and he sought a well-earned respite from Philadelphia temperatures. I was two years late in excepting Linda's invitation for an on-site inspection of her great vineyard.


Tierra Roja - red earth - occupies a beautifully situated, west-facing slope, above the Silverado Trail. Linda's driveway appears almost as a brief extension at the end of Oakville Cross Road. Mark and I came to walk the property and re-taste the 2005 Cabernet, yet the weather and the lunch she provided were so spectacular that they proved as noteworthy as the wine.

We entered the driveway at 12:15pm. By then the sky was piercingly blue and the lunch had been moved outside. Within minutes, we had shed our coats and Mark had donned his sunglasses. We had expected a bit of bread and cheese, or maybe some bruschetta, but Linda (clearly a serious chef) had about seven courses laid out!

Lunch included the best artichoke I have ever tasted (steamed, marinaded overnight and then grilled); the tenderest lamb roast I have ever encountered; Linda's home-made pickled figs; and the promise of hot cookies for the road! She seemed determined that the food would be a match for the wine.

As for the wine? The most coveted annual tasting invitation among California Cabernet lovers is called the "Taste of Oakville". It is the only trade venue where Oakville cult wines like Harlan, Bond, Dalla Valle, Screaming Eagle and the like can be tasted side-by-side. I never miss this event, and Tierra Roja has been my own favorite Taste of Oakville for two years running.

What does it taste like? I usually describe it as a slightly more masculine sibling of its neighbor, Screaming Eagle. It has a vivid ruby color and is boldly structured and precisely focused. It coats the palate with a lingering cascade of ripe red cherry, red currant, red licorice, vanilla, cinnamon and other baking spices: all this firmed by the hard mineral undercurrent that is a signature of Oakville Cabernet.

Pretending to Work

We walked off the effects of lunch and great Cabernet with a climb up through the vineyard, followed by a pruning lesson from Linda. Although her wine has seen only three vintages released, Linda has been personally grooming and tending the organically-farmed property since 1987. The view from Tierra Roja is wonderful on a bright day like this, with Screaming Eagle only one of the famous vineyards Linda can smile down upon.

Blog_Selzer.jpg As you may imagine, we stayed too long and had to bolt out of the driveway for our next appointment. We left warm and cheerful and our stomachs were full of great food, yet we were both soon cursing as - halfway down the valley - we discovered that the cookies had been forgotten!


Click image to read the whole review

Did a duxelle stuffed tenderloin for 12 for NYE … with a horizontal tasting of ’04 cabs. Hourglass, Hartwell, Harris, Tierra Roja, and Von Strasser (O.K. a blend but like the Dali Lama says … learn the rules so you know how to break them properly). All great but the Roja was the sleeper. Luscious chocolate on the palate love you long time! - Greg Casserly, Acme Client

Mr. Jesse Jeong, editor
Wine Cafe Club

The Napa Wine Project

The Napa Wine Project visits and reviews every winery in the County - whether or not it is open to the public, as well as every venture that offers a "tasting experience."

Every so often on this project we come across a gem - this is one of those wines. Linda Neal is the owner and has a background in Agriculture. She initially came to the Napa Valley during a study in Botrytis control. That led to additional work within the vineyards and by the time she retired she had over 20 years experience running a formidable vineyard management company within the Napa Valley for high end wineries. As she says "the wine industry gets in your blood and it becomes a life long passion". Today she retains a 4 acre piece of land in the heart of the Oakville Appellation. Everything about her involvement has to do with the land and the vineyard; the name "Tierra Roja" is a dead giveaway to this. Meaning, "red soil" in Spanish this describes her vineyard perfectly. When exposed, this brilliant red soil can be seen from a long ways away. We recently had a chance to visit and walk the extremely steep terraced slopes of her property. From the upper part of the hillside vineyard there are excellent views overlooking the entire central Napa Valley (click on our photos to see this). There are various Cabernet Clones planted, the types of clones combined with the steep very rocky soils produces extremely small berries.

Attention to detail in the vineyard is key here and Linda is continuously managing all aspects of the vines year round. Over the years with her long history of working in the vineyards Linda has picked up many of the state of the art vineyard management practices that she now employs on her own vineyard. Pulling leaves to provide just the right amount of exposure during the ripening season is key. Each vine is individually managed based on its vigor and other factors. Timing is everything in vineyard management, especially with dropping fruit during the ripening window. Only the "best" fruit is allowed to fully ripen. The vineyard ripens at about the same time and they can selectively pick specific vineyard blocks, doing all their harvesting on the same day. This vineyard tends to be among the earliest ripening of the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in the Oakville appellation. With nearby vineyards that include Screaming Eagle, Showket, Rudd and Dalla Valle it is no wonder that another nearby vintner has coined the term "Magic Hill" for this unique Eastern hillside part of Oakville! Linda purchased this property in 1987 and planted it to vines in 1989.

Tierra Roja actually made wine for 3 years in private wanting to perfect their style as well as deciding which vineyard blocks to use. Note the plow that is featured on the label. It is a testament for how the property used to be farmed as well as a tie in to FFA (Future Farmer's of America) which Linda was a part of and still supports in a variety of ways. Today rather than using a horse and plow, cover crops are used in between the rows and the entire vineyard is managed by hand. The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon was their first vintage, which we had the privilege of trying. All fruit for this wine is from Linda's vineyard - it is 100% varietal and only 160 cases of this wine were produced (all sold out - but look for future vintages via their online mailing list). This is a special wine that has the "it" factor. It is a wine that is easily on par with any of the best Napa Cabernet's that we have sampled on this project; the "it factor" has that special richness combined with elegance that is not often found but when you do, it is a special treat. The 2004 is a deep dark ruby red wine which is seamless on the palate. By this we mean it is rich, but elegant with great balance. The nose has seductive aromas of very ripe fruit - blackberry mixed with a cedar box of spices and nuances of a beautiful earthiness representative of this particular terroir. The broad expressive flavors of fruit are immediately felt on the palate and you may even pick up some mineral notes towards the finish that lingers leaving you only wanting more!

Based on the small acreage and the fact that Tierra Roja does sell some of its fruit to other vintners, their production will always be extremely small. The best chance to enjoy their wines is to join the mailing list - their release date is usually in September. Several high end restaurants in the Napa Valley also carry the wine. Sometimes Linda puts on private vineyard clinics in which she discusses Viticulture and how vines are managed. During these clinics you get to actually tie, prune, sucker and or thin some of the vines. Tierra Roja also supports a variety of non profits with their large format bottle charity program - including Vine Village.

picks Tierra Roja as one of their top picks for "Cult Wine To Come"
(scroll down the article to "AND CULTS TO COME ")

 Ian Blackburn's Cult Wine Class Includes Tierra Roja

Dean & DeLuca

Dean & DeLuca Winter Catalog:

Tierra Roja Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

One of the pleasures of Napa is knowing some of the small producers personally. Linda Neal at Tierra Roja in Oakville is not just a neighbor, but a friend. And we're so proud of the fabulous "Big Red" she is creating. These are very special wines, which are sadly in very limited supply. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Kerrin Laz
Dean & Delucca

Check out the Dean & DeLucca WINE BLOG!
Click to see the full sized article

Don Gillette
Napa Valley Winery Exchange

From Don Gillette, Napa Valley Winery Exchange:

2004 Tierra Roja
Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley

Wonderfully fruity and full of oaky spice, the pristinely defined aromas of this distinctively Oakville Cabernet are of sweet red cherry, red currant, red rose petals, cinnamon, vanilla, earth and dried herbs. The wine is tightly structured but already gorgeous to drink, as the sweetly-ripe red plum, cherry, grenadine and vanilla themes continue to stand out. As expected, the finish, despite it length and delicious fruit, is stiffened by tannin. Expect this outstanding debut release to improve for several years and be long lived. Resist, if you can, its immediate charms. 160 cases produced.

Don Gillette
Napa Valley Winery Exchange
415 Taylor Street San Francisco, CA 94102

James Laube

From The Wine Spectator Online, May 03, 2007:

I dined with friends at Ken Franks La Toque (www.latoque.com) in Rutherford. It has a classy wine country inn atmosphere, with ideal patio dining. I've enjoyed many meals at La Toque, but this one was by far the finest, with an exciting range of entrees.

We drank a 2005 Kutch Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, which is an amazingly supple, complex and harmonious wine for winemaker Jamie Kutch's first effort.

We also savored a
2002 Shafer Hillside Select, which is also remarkable. It is a deep, profound, richly flavored wine, yet its finesse, balance and subtle Cabernet flavors worked perfectly with the five-course meal.

The sommelier graciously offered us a taste of two new wines, both small-production Napa Valley Cabernets that were being served with that evenings tasting menu. The 2004 Roy Estate (about $100 retail) was dominated by oak, with dried currant flavors. I liked the 2004 Tierra Roja (also about $100) much better. It offered an intriguing vanilla-cherry-yogurt aroma and was smooth and polished on the palate.

Powell Yang,
The Wino Depot

I tried the 2004 Tierra Roja at Taste of Oakville couple days ago, thought it was one of the highlights at the tasting

Scott Tracy's
"Wine Nights & Days"



David DeSante is the winemaker and he has let the red earth speak.

So often the wines from Napa have been “over-made” with fruit oak and alcohol in a manner that is powerful but not profound... This a a true estate wine.

...The pleasures of this wine are many, but I find special joy in how the terroir of the red soils of Oakville are captured in the glass and speaks to why these soils and these people are special.  97 points

Read Scott Tracy's Complete Web Blog Review

or Here in our own archives


Click the link above to read the whole thing. Here is an excerpt:

One of Napa most famous sub- appellations, Oakville is most notably known for producing stellar Cabernet Sauvignon that command hundreds, and in some cases thousands of dollars on the world’s best wine lists ...

At this year’s event there were some stand-outs. The inaugural vintage of Tierra Roja (www.tierraroja.com) is set to release in September 2007, and, with only 120 cases available this year it is sure to become a cult classic.


rated 97 points

Tierra Roja takes it's place amongst the best of Oakville; Screaming Eagle, Harlan etc. Beautifully well made, with bright fruit and smooth integrated tannins. Mid palate opens with Cedar, leather, pencil lead, pomagrate, red and black fruit, and just the right amount of forest floor. The complex flavors continue to unfold in the long, long finish. This wine would stand with any classified Bordeaux, and will only improve with bottle age. (35 views)

The winery is neighbored by Screaming Eagle, in Oakville…..This in my opinion is the next Scarecrow or Harlan…..Don’t miss it. The other recommendation is Regusci, The Angelo’s vineyard is fantastic…….Enjoy your trip, and keep up the good work…….I’m a fan.