The Best We Can Be
The Life and Wisdom of Joseph Phelps

Price $80.00, $64.00 (Phelps Preferred)

Overview The Best We Can Be: The Life and Wisdom of Joseph Phelps, serves as the culmination of a journey of nearly four years embarked upon by the late Joe Phelps and his children Leslie, Bill, Laurie and Lynn. Together with Napa Valley author and publisher, Paul Chutkow, Joe Phelps set about telling the story of his life in order to teach and inspire others.

"Throughout his long and successful life, my father had a strong desire to learn, to build, and to grow. He inspired his family, friends, and colleagues to join him in his journey, and to become 'The Best We Can Be'." - Bill Phelps, Joe's Son

The book is available exclusively through Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Orders are accepted online or by calling our Customer Service team at 707-967-3701.

"I am proud of the person my father was and everything he accomplished. While he was such a humble man, his story really is worth sharing." - Laurie Anderson, Joe's Daughter

An introduction to The Best We Can Be:
As you are about to discover, Joseph Phelps led a fabulous life, and much of it moved like a golden thread through the heart of American history.

His great grandfather, for instance, left the farm in Ohio to join Abraham Lincoln’s fight against slavery, and soon he was in the Union Army, fighting alongside the legendary General William Tecumseh Sherman in his “March to The Sea.”

Seventy years later, when Joe was only eight, his family’s farm in Missouri was slammed by the punishing droughts and storms of the Dust Bowl. The family moved to Greeley, Colorado, and had to start all over from scratch. Then came World War II, and all the hardships that came along with it.

As you will see, young Joe rose to every challenge, driven by a ferocious will to succeed and a very special gift: he could take a project, an idea, or the mere wisp of a dream and build it into a shining reality. And with that special gift, Joe would go on to have a profound and lasting impact on American life and culture.

First, after serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, Joe took over his father’s small local general contracting business. He built it into Hensel Phelps Construction, an industry powerhouse that has built schools, bridges, airports, hospitals, libraries, museums, and other vital economic and social resources across America, including a launchpad for NASA and a new protective casing for the Pentagon in the wake of 9/11.

In the late 1960s, America began to awaken to the joys of wine and food, and Joe soon joined in. He embarked on a second career in the Napa Valley and created, from scratch, a winery of exceptional beauty and distinction. He joined hands with like-minded pioneers and helped transform the Napa Valley into what it is today: one of the premier wine growing regions of the world, and a dream destination for wine and food lovers from around the globe.

As you will see, Joe loved to build, he loved to create, and he loved to share. In that spirit, he took over the Oakville Grocery and built it into a model gourmet shopping experience. In his usual quiet way, Joe also led the creation of specialized health care centers for women and housing for local farm workers. As his fellow vintner Bob Trinchero came to declare, “Joe Phelps is the unsung hero of the Napa Valley and American wine.”

Finally, for one last project, Joe decided to draw together his life story and the lessons and wisdom he had gathered along the way. His aim, he said, was to “Teach and Inspire.”


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Emma K. Morris

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Mora Cronin

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