OFF THE BEATEN PATH
The vineyard that is now known as Outpost was planted sometime in the 1860s. During that time the site was known as the Ferazzi Ranch, planted by a man with that name. He planted it to Zinfandel, Carignane, and Petite Sirah a typical field blend for the time. No good records survive of what wineries received the grape but they more than likely we reprocessed at one of the Co-ops operating in the valley at the time. Like so many vineyards from that era, it fell into disrepair during Prohibition. Fortunately, some 30 plus years later Bob Lamborn purchased the property and attempted to bring the old vineyard back into production. After farming it for a couple of years with mixed results, Bob pulled out the old vineyard and replanted it in the mid-1970s. He planted it exclusively to Zinfandel and began producing wine under the Lamborn Family Vineyard label. Bob turned over the family label to his son Mike in the late 90s and sold the property to Terry and Julie Pringle in 1998.
The Pringles looked to expand the acreage and planted Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the early 2000s they were approached, very early on in their stewardship by Ehren Jordan the winemaker for Turley Wine Cellars, about purchasing grapes for the Turley brand. A deal was struck for Turley to purchase a majority of the grapes as well as make a small amount of wine for the Pringles and the Outpost brand was born. Thomas Brown was Jordan's assistant at the time and was integral in making the first wine. Thomas launched his consulting business the following year and Outpost was his first client and where he continues as winemaker today. Over the next few years, Outpost produced small but noteworthy amounts of Zinfandel. In 2003, Frank and Kathy Dotzler purchased Outpost from the Pringles.
Although he was working in the computer business at the time, Frank's passion was always wine. In 1997 the Dotzlers began searching for vineyard land in Napa Valley. They had the good luck to meet Ren Harris (Paradigm Winery) and Jean Phillips (Screaming Eagle) who at the time were the premier land brokers of Napa Valley. After a year-long search, they found an undeveloped 20 acre property on Howell Mountain. With the help of Ren and Jean the Dotzlers converted the raw land to Vineyard. The development ended up being a 4-year project, taking almost 3 years to prepare the blocks for planting. The ground was so rocky in places that it needed to be dynamited multiple times. The first vines did not go into the ground until 2002 and an initial small harvest did not take place until 2005. On a side note, the first True Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 2008 more than 10 years after the property was purchased.
While the True Vineyard was being developed it became apparent that building a winery on the site would be very difficult. In 2001, Dotzler began searching for another possible site for a winery. Again, with the help of Ren and Jean, they found Outpost which was only one-quarter of a mile, as the crow flies, from the True Vineyard.
The Dotzlers quickly began work on the property planting an additional 3 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in 2004 and building the current winery in 2005. A new set of wines were also introduced. Until 2003 the program consisted only of Zinfandel, over the next few years the first Petite Sirah, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon were added to the lineup.
In 2018, the estate was bought by AXA Millésimes headed by Christian Seely, Managing Director.