2003 Napa Valley - The Wine Independent

2003 Napa Valley

2003 Vintage Ratings:


Red wine vintage rating: 88

2003 Top Three Napa Valley Wines Today:


Hundred Acre Kayli Morgan Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Opus One

Lokoya Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

2003 produced a bevy of outstanding wines, many for mid-term drinking, but there were disappointments. Some of the top Cabernets are drinking well now, while others are already declining.


It was an infamously “irregular” vintage. A warm start to the year led to an early bud burst, but then April cooled right down, slowing vine growth. Cold, damp conditions at flowering hampered fruit set. Late June and early July brought heatwaves, causing vines to shut down in some areas. Hot conditions continued through August, and September brought more heat spikes of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The stopping and starting of vines delayed harvest, which occurred from late September and throughout October.


This was an era when many winemakers favored that pedal-to-the-metal style of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. However, this was a vintage calling for vineyard/harvest efforts to maintain fruit freshness and for practicing gentle extraction in the winery. As a result of the later harvest and over-extraction trends, a lot of the wines are high-octane, rugged, and foursquare. Sadly, they never had the mid-palate layers to go the long haul, and many need drinking up.