For Kentucky-born Joe Blanton and his wife, California native LeeAndra Blanton, Selah Wines represents an opportunity to live in a place they love and pursue a passion they share: making great wine. They purchased their small Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley in 2014, but their fondness for this wine region – and their determination to live and work here – goes back much further.
Joe was a young major league baseball player playing for the Oakland A’s when his interest in wine was stoked at team dinners on the road. Older players – mentors on and off the field – would order wine for the group, and Joe became intrigued. Trips to nearby wine country, particularly Napa Valley, furthered his interest, but it was an “a-ha” moment with a bottle of 2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia that made Joe realize there was much more to wine than he’d experienced so far. His interest quickly turned into an obsession, and though he was traded in 2008, he continued to learn as much as he could about growing and making wine. During travel between games he immersed himself in wine books and tasted as often as he could with likeminded teammates.
At the same time, Joe continued to visit Napa Valley with LeeAndra, who he’d met in California and who shared Joe’s fascination with the area and its wines. Napa Valley was where the couple could unwind and take a break from their busy lives. It was the first place they went on vacation together, and also where they became engaged and eventually married. Ultimately, it was the place they decided to make their home, and they now live in the north valley town of Calistoga with their three children.
Selah Wines is a new chapter for Joe and LeeAndra. A search for vineyard land brought them to their Howell Mountain property, and as longtime admirers of Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the appellation, it was a site that spoke to them immediately. After securing the vineyard, they assembled their team: well-known winemaker Thomas Brown, whose wines they’d tasted and esteemed, and Josh Clark, one of the most trusted vineyard managers in Napa Valley. With several harvests under their belts, Joe and LeeAndra look forward to a long life in Napa Valley, and to applying the same dedication to excellence in wine that Joe has devoted to his distinguished baseball career.