Palmaz Vineyards

Useful Information

Open: All year Mon-Sat.
After appointment only.
Fee: Adults USD 60.
Classification: SubterraneaCellar
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: Ar=10,000m², T=14-16 °C.
Guided tours: D=2 h.
Address: Palmaz Vineyard, 4029 Hagen Road, Napa, CA 94558, Tel: +1-707-226-5587, Fax: +1-707-251-0873. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1881 Cedar Knoll Winery opened by Henry Hagen.
1977 Dr. Palmaz and his wife Amalia and their infant daughter Florencia came to the United States.
1982 family moved to Texas.
1996 purcvhased the winery.
2007 celar completed.



Palmaz Vineyards is located in the world famous Napa Valley wine growing area. There are numerous wineries, several offer wine tours of their cellars. However, Palmaz Vineyards is extraordinary in many ways. For example the owner, Julio Palmaz, Ph.D., Clinical Professor and world famous for his balloon-expandable coronary stent. Then the cellar, a huge underground 10,000m² high tech laboratory which cost 20 Million Dollars.

But lets explain all one after the other. The huge cellar, carved into Mount George, has a central dome which is 16 m high, 23 m wide, and lies some 15 stories below ground. It is said to be the world's largest underground reinforced structure. The huge soft rock excavation has no pillars supporting the ceiling, so the walls and ceiling are maintained by a series of 5 m long rock bolts every 1.5m The construction is pretty new and was featured in architectural magazines.

Fermentation tanks rotate on a custom-designed carousel in the dome. Tunnels start at the dome like the rays of a wheel, with a circular tunnel around, which makes the cellar look like a wheel. The whole cellar has a vertical range of an 18-storey building, which is necessary for gravity-flow winemaking. While the center looks like a villains base from a James Bond movie, with machinery completely controlled by computer, the cellars contain tranditional wooden casks. Two elevators bring workers and wine barrels up and down.

The grapes enter the cave on the top level of the underground dome, processed by a destemmer and sorting table. Then they drop through a trap door into one of 24 fermentation tanks on the middle level. The tanks rotate on a giant carousel. One level below 14 larger tanks wait, used for both settling and blending the wines. Frome here the wine is filled into barrels which are transported through the rays of the wheel into the circular cave around, where they are left to age.

The basic idea of the whole process is to avoid pumping. The wine flows through hoses only driven by gravitation. The Palmazes find, that pumping would disturb the wine and change it.

The results of this process are impressive: 6,000 cases of Cabernets and 1,000 cases of white wines each year, which sell from $32 to $150 per bottle. The wines have high ratings and are uncommon for the area. The wine is rather light, while the Napa valley is benerally known for burly Cabernets and oaky Chardonnays.