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Joseph Phelps, a building contractor from Colorado, first invested in vineyards in the Napa Valley in 1972. In 1974 Phelps and his winemaker Walter Schugg produced their first vintage of Insignia, which at the time was one of the first Bordeaux style blends in California. Its Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot grapes are sourced primarily from Rutherford & Stags Leap (notably for `Insignia'); the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from Los Carneros & Napa (for the better quality fruit).
Insignia, which is aged in oak barrels (25% American) for 22 months has been on hot streak since 1990 and current winemaker Craig Williams is producing richer and riper wines than before. The winery produces a wide range of wines apart from Insignia and of particular interest are its Rhône style wines made from Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Viognier.