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The 1974 Insignia is shown beside its current label, marking the 40th vintage for Phelps’ flagship red blend.

When Joseph Phelps Vineyards released its first vintage of what would become its flagship wine, Insignia, California’s first proprietary red wine blend sold for $12 a bottle.

This year, Phelps is celebrating its 40th vintage of Insignia with a special 40th vintage logo that pays homage to the original 1970s Insignia label design. It will be included on the 2013 Insignia label and a commemorative six-bottle wood box. And Insignia’s suggested retail price is $250 a bottle.

Bill Phelps, president of Joseph Phelps Vineyards, said, “As California’s first proprietary red wine blend, Insignia has been crafted annually since 1974 from the finest grapes grown in each vintage. Today, the legacy continues and Insignia remains a true testament to that commitment that began 40 years ago and will continue for years to come.

“The 2013 vintage is a special year for Insignia, not only because it is the wine’s 40th release, but also due to the extraordinary 2013 harvest that gave us fruit of exceptional purity and concentration,” he said. “I have no doubt that this vintage will stand with the finest we have yet produced.”

Originally created from the 1974 vintage, Insignia is the first proprietary Bordeaux-style blend produced in California. Each vintage is created from the best grapes from Joseph Phelps Vineyards, first from both grower and estate fruit, and beginning with the 2004 vintage, from entirely estate-grown fruit sources. Insignia is a cabernet sauvignon based-wine made from six of the Joseph Phelps estate vineyards in Napa Valley.

“The 2013 Insignia is one of the wines I am most proud of,” said Phelps’ winemaker Ashley Hepworth. “It’s showing exceptionally well for being so young.” Hepworth said that 2013 had textbook weather throughout the growing season and harvest, resulting in concentrated wines with remarkable structure.

2013 Insignia is a blend of 88 percent cabernet sauvignon, 5 percent petit verdot, 3 percent merlot, 3 percent malbec and 1 percent cabernet franc from estate-grown vineyards in Stags Leap District, South Napa, Rutherford, Oak Knoll District and St. Helena.

Insignia is available for purchase to visitors of the winery and online at It’s also distributed throughout the United States and select international markets.

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