Estee Hill is a joint venture between Dan Sakai and Muna Soltan.
A Napa Valley native, Dan grew up in Calistoga. While he studied Biochemistry and Botany at UC Davis, he ended up in the landscape industry. He does landscape installation and maintenance of wineries and estate homes throughout the Napa Valley. One of his duties while maintaining estate properties is to also maintain their small vineyards. With the help and tips from some of the best vineyard managers in the Napa Valley, he has learned what it takes to grow and produce high-quality wine grapes.
It wasn’t until 2012 that Dan fell into winemaking when one of his clients enlisted his help in making wine at his estate. It was a learning experience with numerous Google searches and help from many of their winemaker friends in the Napa Valley. Dan was hooked; he loved the science of winemaking and it was nice to put some of the lab work he did at UC Davis to practice in making wine. One of the first wines Dan created in 2012 was an 80/20 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc Blend that won a gold medal in the Winemaker Magazine annual wine competition!
In 2013, Dan started making wine with Muna and their story together began…
A retired dentist from Southern California, Muna frequently traveled to Napa to visit family, enjoy Napa Valley wines, and admire the beautiful rolling landscapes and vineyards. In 2004 Muna saw the property at Estee Hill and fell in love with it. Being an avid gardener, she purchased the property with dreams of creating a beautiful and lush landscape to complement the scenic vineyard on the hill, and that’s how she met Dan. Together, they planted Tuscan olive trees and fruit trees, and installed raised vegetable beds that produced beautiful organic fruits and vegetables. Muna loves to cook gourmet meals and entertain guests utilizing all of the produce she grows from her garden. She studied food science and baking during her undergraduate work and applies what she learned. She is genuinely interested in the science and the chemistry of the fermentation of foods such as bread, yogurt, and wine.
In 2013, Muna wanted to make wine from her Estee Hill vineyard to share it with her friends and family. She enlisted Dan’s help to set up the wine facility and look for a wine consultant. Muna enjoys the winemaking process and is involved in every step of the wine production. She took classes at UC Davis to learn more about wine evaluation and blending. Together, she and Dan have been making beautiful Estee Hill wines to share with you.
When Dan started landscaping the Estee Hill property with Muna in 2008, they planted 40 Tuscan olive trees with Muna’s goal of making olive oil in mind. Dan sourced a trio of Italian olive varietals, Frantoio, Leccino, and Pendolino, that would make a sought-after olive oil blend. This blend is sharper and a bit spicier than the older olives, Sevillano, Manzanillo, and Ascolano, planted in the Napa Valley over 100 years ago.
Dan has been making olive oil for several of his other clients in Napa for many years. He is very knowledgeable of the milling process and care for the trees – preventing fruit flies from damaging the olives and maintaining the trees so that they will produce quality fruit.
The first crop of olives was harvested in 2010 and yielded 15 gallons of olive oil! Dan and Muna continue to make their delicious and unique olive oil blend together every year.
Estee Hill Wine
The name “Estee” can be defined as a beautiful woman with lots of talents and attributes. She is sexy, creative, attractive, and hot, and has a good sense of style. When people interact with her, they fall instantly in love with her poise and friendly demeanor. Staring into her eyes makes time stop.
“Estee” is a derivative of Esther, the biblical queen who married King Ahasuerus. He was enamored with her poise and beauty. Esther’s name comes from the Old Persian and Babylonian name “Ishtar,” the Goddess of Love, a Star of Venus.
Estee perfectly describes our wine: a beautiful, soft, velvety wine with complex poise and graceful, elegant attributes. Our wine will leave you feeling like you have been smitten by the Goddess of Love. When you take a sip, it makes time stop and leaves you wanting more.
In 2013, Muna and Dan converted a small outbuilding into a winemaking room and made wine together from grapes sourced from the Estee Hill property. They continued to make wine together in that room for years and vowed that if they ever got good enough at making wine that they would start their own business.
In the fall of 2016, Dan and Muna were introduced to Dean Sylvester, who had just recently retired from Whitehall Lane Winery after a long tenure as winemaker there. Dean was gracious enough to help with the 2016 harvest and he helped craft beautiful wines with Dan and Muna. With Dean’s help, they were able to go into business. In 2017, Dean took over the winemaking for Estee Hill, and produced the first vintage. The fruit was sourced from both a Coombsville vineyard and the Estee Hill property. Dean believes that the fruit from both of those vineyards is of exceptional quality and makes premium Cabernet Sauvignon.
We are specializing in just Cabernet Sauvignon in very limited quantities. However, we are planning to offer a variety of different Cabernets and other varietals from small vineyards throughout the Napa Valley. We hope you enjoy our wines and welcome your feedback.
Our Winemaker Dean Sylvester
Originally from Upstate New York, Dean got his interest in wine while working at a local wine shop in the early 70’s. In 1976 he moved to California to attend UC Davis and start making wine. In 1983 Dean arrived in Napa Valley and spent a dozen years working at premium wineries such as Newton Vineyards and William Harrison Winery in St. Helena and Chimney Rock Winery in Stags Leap District. Starting in 1998 Dean spent 18 years as the winemaker at Whitehall Lane Winery in St. Helena.
Since 2016 Dean has been making wine for some small family brands including Estee Hill. He works with the vineyard team to assure that the grapes are at their peak when its time to harvest. His wines reflect the local terroir and are balanced to be enjoyed in their youth but are also structured with aging in mind, as well.
Estee Hill is very fortunate to have Dean at our helm.
Our Sales Manager Mike Simmons
Mike has always enjoyed drinking wines from Napa Valley; he appreciates the hard work that it takes to make quality vintages. He loves all aspects of the winemaking process and knows how to evaluate and appreciate fine wines. Mike is a retired dentist and was a classmate of Muna’s, and their friendship has continued through the years. He has lived in Napa with his wife for 20 years, making friends and developing contacts throughout the valley. He currently leads all of the outside sales for Estee Hill to restaurants and wine merchants.