A California Legacy

Ask any winemaker in Napa about Philip Togni and they are sure to have a story to recount or words of admiration to share. With more than 60 vintages under his belt, Philip is one of the most important winemakers in Napa and the only winemaker in California to have made his first vintage in 1959 and still be working in 2022.

Philip was born in Wales and started his career as a geologist before taking his first winemaking job in 1954. He then enrolled at the University of Bordeaux in the Diplôme National d’Oenologie, studying under the famed Emile Peynaud. While in school he worked at Château Lascombes and upon his graduation in 1957 went to South America to make wine in Chile’s Maipo Valley. Philip came to California in 1959, honing his skills at some of the top wineries – Mayacamas, Chalone, Inglenook, Cuvaison and Chappellet – before purchasing his own land in 1975.

The estate’s vineyards are at 2000 feet elevation, near the top of Spring Mountain, a more temperate microclimate perfectly suited to producing long-lived and elegant wines. The vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and farmed with organic practices. The winery and cellar are built into the hillside just steps from the vineyards, a location that helps keep both naturally and consistently cool. An eco-conscious gravity-flow design has the crush pad on the highest level, followed by the fermentation room below and barrel storage on the lowest level. Solar panels help power the winery operations.

Philip makes only two styles of Cabernet, both of which are critically acclaimed: Philip Togni Cabernet, an incredibly age-worthy Margaux-type blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot; and Tanbark Hill Cabernet, a more approachable wine sourced from select vineyard blocks and meant to be enjoyed young. 2022 marks Philip’s 96th birthday as well as 63 years of winemaking in Napa. Though his daughter Lisa, herself an experienced winemaker, now runs the family business, Philip remains a vital part of the winery and a true legacy of California winemaking.

Philip Togni 2018 ‘Tanbark Hill’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Retail: $124.95 / btl (6 btl/cs)

Philip Togni 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Retail: $269.95 / btl (6 btl/cs)

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The Wines

Philip Togni 2018 ‘Tanbark Hill’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
92 points – Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate, January 2021
“Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Tanbark Hill Vineyard opens with fragrant scents of lavender, red Morello cherries, fresh black currants and black raspberries, plus hints of dried Provence herbs, pencil shavings and iron ore. Medium-bodied, the palate is bright, refreshing and elegant, offering plenty of crunchy red and black fruit with a soft texture and mineral-tinged finish. This is great value for a wonderfully pure, authentic taste of Napa!”

Philip Togni 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
96+ points – Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate, January 2021
“Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate offers up intense notes of crushed black currants, fresh blackberries and ripe red plums with hints of pencil lead, black raspberries, underbrush and unsmoked cigars plus a touch of tapenade. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers bold, crunchy black and red berry layers with a lively backbone and firm, grainy tannins, finishing long and energetic.”

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About Philip Togni Vineyard

After more than 60 (yes 6-0!) vintages in California, Philip Togni leads Napa’s camp of ‘old-school’ Cabernet producers. A student of Emile Peynaud at the University of Bordeaux in the 1950s, Philip earned his Diplôme National d’Oenologie and worked at Château Lascombes. In 1959, Philip arrived in California following a stint in Chile. He worked at Mayacamas (pre-Travers), Chalone (their 1st winemaker), Chappellet, and others through the 1960s & ‘70s. 1983 was the first vintage from Philip Togni Vineyard. The Vine has been honoured to offer our clients every vintage from 1997 onward.

By the early 1990s, Togni was focusing on his now iconic ‘Margaux-style’ Cabernet Sauvignon, crafted with varying proportions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Together with his wife Birgitta and daughter Lisa, they produce exclusively estate-bottled wines from the 25-acre property where they have lived since 1975, 2000 feet above St. Helena on Spring Mountain.

Togni’s beautifully balanced Cabernets have become known for their ability to age for decades while maintaining poise, elegance and remarkable complexity. Every year, a small quantity of 10-year-old Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon is released to the mailing list clients, illustrating the ageability and drinking-timeline of the wine. Tanbark Hill is declassified in the style of a Bordeaux ‘2nd wine’ (ie. an Estate-bottled wine). With little or no ‘press wine’ included, it’s an earlier-drinking wine suitable for restaurants. Ca’ Togni is a sweet wine (Black Hamburg) from a 1/4 acre parcel of old vines. Unfortunately, the vines providing Ca’ Togni have finally succumbed to age and virus, and had to be pulled out after the 2014 harvest.

Lisa Togni joined her parents full-time in 2000, after earning an MBA, and working vintages in Bordeaux (Leoville-Barton) and Australia, as well as sales & admin roles in California. Sharing Bordeaux experience and her father’s patient, long-view, generational perspective, Lisa honours one of California’s true legacies.


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Philip Togni is represented in Ontario by The Vine Agency.

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