Tag Archives | wine

Great roots!

The recent release of the VHR Cabernet Sauvignon from Vine Hill Ranch, Katharine’s Napa Valley”roots”, is receiving rave reviews. Here’s the most recent from esteemed wine critic Antonio Galloni in his wine blog Vinous:

The 2013s from Vine Hill Ranch, block by block

It’s hard to believe just how far Bruce and Heather Phillips have come in just a few years. Of course, the Phillips family has been supplying grapes to some of the Napa Valleys top wineries for decades, but that is not the same as making wine. Ever since their debut vintage 2008, the Phillipses have quietly but surely staked out a place for themselves among the top producers in Napa Valley. Vineyard guru Mike Wolf and Winemaker Françoise Peschon bring an extraordinary level of passion to Vine Hill Ranch that is evident in every detail.

Vine Hill Ranch currently produces just one wine, which is a blend of six separate blocks on the property. The 2013 harvest was a full three weeks ahead of 2012. Peschon opted to leave the wines on their lees as long as possible. The 2013s were racked in March, right after the malos finished. The five blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon in this tasting are all vivid and remarkably different. Block 6L, the single largest component, is drop-dead gorgeous. Petit Verdot has yet to be used in a final blend at Vine Hill Ranch, but the 2013 is beyond beautiful. The 2012, tasted just prior to bottling, could turn out to be one of the wines of the vintage. I also had a chance to re-visit the 2010 and 2011 from bottle. Both wines confirm their place among the best wines of their respective years. Readers who haven’t tasted Vine Hill Ranch owe it to themselves to do so. This is without question one of the most exciting properties in Napa Valley today.

– Antonio Galloni

Hearty congratulations to Katharine’s brother, Bruce, and his wife, Heather, for spearheading the project, and to the passionate and dedicated wine-making team!

Ingredient Spotlight: Vitis Vinifera Grape Juice Extract

Kahina Night Cream - Vitis vinifera

Kahina Night Cream features high concentrations of vitis vinifera (grape juice) extract. Although this ingredient is inspired by Katharine’s time at her Napa Valley ranch, we source our grape juice extract from the Languedoc region in France.

What is grape juice extract and why is it special?
Grape juice extract is produced from resveratrol through a process that mimics a natural reaction with a fungus. It contains delta-viniferin, an antioxidant, in higher concentration than in actual grapes. Grape juice extract also has other polyphenols.

What benefits does grape juice extract have for your skin?
Grape juice extract preserves current skin health and helps defend against aging. One way it does this is by increasing the activity of enzymes that protect mitochondrial DNA, even after UV irradiation. Studies show a 66% boost in defense against MMP-1, which degrades collagen, and a 48% boost in defense against MMP-3, which degrades elastin. Using skin care products that contain grape juice extract – like Kahina Night Cream – will ultimately decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

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Ingredient Spotlight: Resveratrol

Kahina Night Cream

When Katharine set out to create an advanced anti-aging moisturizer, she knew immediately she wanted resveratrol to be a key active. She had witnessed firsthand the hardiness of grape vines, thanks to the vines’ production of resveratrol during times of environmental stress like bacterial or fungal attack. Though resveratrol has been the subject of studies relating to heart health, resveratrol has important skin benefits as well.

What is resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a phyto-nutrient that defends against inflammation by stopping the peroxidation process.

What form of it is used in Kahina Night Cream?
Our resveratrol is listed as “pichia/resveratrol ferment”; it is extracted using a yeast (pichia pastoris). The benefit of this extraction process is a very small molecule that is bioavailable and readily penetrates skin for maximum efficacy.

Why incorporate resveratrol into your skincare regimen?
Resveratrol has been shown to significantly downregulate cyclooxygenase, a key indicator of inflammation. Inflammation contributes to physical signs of aging. Resveratrol also upregulates collagen IV, which over time promotes elasticity and produces a microlifting of the skin. In a 28-day trial using pichia/resveratrol ferment, participants reported a noticeable improvement in fine lines and skin tone. Kahina Night Cream contains the same concentration that was used in the study.

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VHR, Farming Napa Valley History, Wine Spectator


Congratulations Bob Phillips, (aka Daddy) for well-deserved accolades in this month’s Wine Spectator!

“In the 1960’s, Bob Phillips, now 89, transformed the Vine Hill Ranch, where fruit orchards and hay fields once stood, into one of the most sought after vineyards in Napa Valley for Cabernet Sauvignon. Bruce Cakebread, who has bought grapes from Vine Hill Ranch since 1981, says of Phillips, “He’s really dedicated to his vineyard. We’ve gone through replants and phylloxera together, and he’ll go to the Nth degree to grow the best grapes”.

The 70-acre vineyard, nestled between Harlan Estate and Dominus in the southwestern corner of Oakville, undulates from the benchlands to the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, with seven different blocks all dedicated to Cabernet. It’s in Phillips’ modest nature to have chosen farming over winemaking, and he’s sold grapes to some of Napa’s finest producers, including Cakebread, Etude, Lail and Bond. One of the first to source his vineyard was Andre Tchelistcheff for his Georges de Latour bottlings at Beaulieu Vineyards.”

A true inspiration. XOXO Kat

Father’s Day Reflections


Katharine L’Heureux’s father, William Robert Phillips, 1950s

This Father’s Day, I’m taking a moment to reflect on my own father and how his life and values shaped me and ultimately my business.

My father’s life is patched together for me in the bits and pieces of his life as he has shared it through stories told around the dinner table: raised in New Orleans, Korean war hero, stock broker, vintner. A modest man, but an engaging storyteller, his stories usually downplayed his own starring role. In his version, he is a Forest Gumpian figure – unwittingly turning hapless events to his advantage. I hope he will forgive me for any inaccuracies I’ve made in the retelling, and for condensing his full life to a blog post.

W. Robert Phillips was born and raised in New Orleans in the shadow of three larger than life uncles, Sydney, Morris and Armant LeGendre – handsome football stars, sought after bachelors and war heroes from New Orleans. His family eventually moved from New Orleans to the Bay Area in California, where my father attended Stanford University and continued the legacy of his uncles.

From there he was drafted to serve in the Korean War, where, by his own account, he mistakenly blew up a munitions dump and performed several other acts of heroism for which he was awarded a bronze star.

Then the dizzying years of marrying my mother, raising a family, and pursuing a career as a stockbroker, all while getting up at 5 AM every morning to exercise (rowing in the SF Bay or running) and squeezing in the sanctioned-at-the-time three-martini lunch. He did it all to perfection, and moved swiftly up the corporate ladder. But, ultimately, he wanted a simpler life.

At the age of 55, my father was presented with a choice to move to New York with his firm or to move to the Napa Valley and take over the family vineyard on the passing of my grandmother.  He chose the latter, dropping off the treadmill at a time when few others were entertaining such “quality of life” options.  As I look now at the former Wall Streeters dropping out to start their own businesses, it seems he was way ahead of his time.

In the Napa Valley, W. Robert (known as Bob) took a neglected piece of land filled with potential, and turned it into one of the most sought after producers of cabernet sauvignon in the region, forming solid relationships with some of the best wineries in California and nurturing farm laborers and becoming an active land preservationist in the process. His modesty never gave him the desire to be the face behind the wine, instead choosing the farmer’s role and selling his grapes to his neighbors.

As I think about my father and his life, I see the constant thread of his moral fiber directing its course. I am thankful for the gifts he has, hopefully, passed on to me – a love of the land, a compassion for others, the fearlessness to follow a dream, and most importantly, an ability to laugh at myself.


Katharine and Bob enjoying a Napa lunch, 2011

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