Dana Estates

Cult Wine: Dana Estates
Winemaker: Philippe Melka
Proprietor: Hi Sang Lee
Inaugural Vintage: 2005
Annual Production: 700 cases
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Napa Valley
Other Wines: None
Estate Vineyard: Yes
Grape Source: 100% Estate Grown


Dana Estates produces three single vineyard Cabernets from sites whose dramatically different soils and microclimates translate into distinctive characteristics in bottle. Helms Vineyard in Rutherford produces a polished and sophisticated wine. Hershey on Howell Mountain combines a firm structure and vibrancy with a dramatic minerality. And Lotus Vineyard’s steeply sloped exposed mountain location makes for power, density and richness. Winemaker Philippe Melka, who hails from Bordeaux, has a particular interest in the relationship between soil and flavor. And winemaker Cameron Vawter has a deep commitment to organic farming. Together, they make wines distinctly expressive of terroir.

A lavish attention to detail and uncompromising approach to winemaking have made Dana Estates Cabernets among the most prized in Napa. There is a tremendous amount of culling, both in the field and in the winery. Any wine deemed substandard is discarded. The production is extremely limited and the waiting list is excruciatingly long.

Hi Sang Lee, originally the most significant importer of Burgundy and Bordeaux to Korea, who is now passionate about Napa Cabernets, commissioned Howard Backen to design a winery which marries the “Barn” Napa Valley style with an Asian influence. The property, nestled at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains in the heart of Cabernet country, is spectacularly beautiful. The winery is designed to allow precise control of all aspects of vinification. Its aesthetic rigor finds expression in such practices as playing different types of classical music to the fermenting and aging wine depending on where it is in its process.

Dana Estates is a true luxury brand. It remains scarce because Hi Sang Lee and his team embrace winemaking with the unwavering focus of artists.

Winery Website

Click here to visit the winery’s own website