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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  3 Days in Napa - Trip Report

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Author Topic:   3 Days in Napa - Trip Report
posted 03-30-2011 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Shane,

Thanks for the information. I have joined the mailing lists of these three wineries and will add them to my "visit" list.

Sounds like we like the same types of varietals and the same type of wineries, the small, intimate, family owned. The people are as much a part of the experience as the wine.


Junior Member
posted 03-29-2011 06:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ShaneO   Click Here to Email ShaneO     Edit/Delete Message
Hawkeye - sorry, I neglected your question in your response. Yes, Erna Schein/Behrens Family, Karl Lawrence and Crocker and Starr are appointment required smaller producers.

Being in Dallas, we have a pretty good selection of what I would call overpriced, mass distributed wine. We seek out the smaller places that we are not going to find at home and on the web. AND, we look for value relative to quality. In addition, we look for experiences, so when we find an interesting place that we uncover, it's awesome to remember the experience when we open the bottle(s) months or years later.

Karl Lawrence - we discovered them as we love Sequoia Grove (our first wine club) and Michael Trujillo is the wine maker for both. Their "regular" cab is a steal IMO at around $50. Offering by allocation.

Crocker & Starr - Ric Henry from Karl Lawrence took us here as he is friends w/ the winemaker, Pam Starr, who was previously at Spottswoode. I think they will get a little bigger than others, but still an intimate, not distributed wine that is a very good value. Plus, Mark who hoste us was AWESOME.

Erna Schein - my wife found this on a previous trip when we were looking at Spring Mountain as we love mountain fruit and wineries. They do a number of different bottlings of a lot of different varietals, but still I believe their production is around 3,000-4,000 cases per year. A lot of interesting blends including Syrah and Petite Sirah, plus those wonderful cabs.

Hope this helps and I would absolutely recommend these three for small, intimate places with great wine.


posted 03-09-2011 02:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wolfman   Click Here to Email wolfman     Edit/Delete Message
Hawkeye - working on my report now...finally. Not sure how much you will find useful, but for some folks that have never visited the area, maybe it will help.

Also, since I was there a few days before you, I warned everyone you were coming!


posted 03-09-2011 02:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi ShaneO,

Thanks for joining us on this side. It is always great to get someone else's take on wineries. I couldn't agree with you more about Hall, most of their wines are fabulous . . . good Cabs. We too, toured the cave facility up on the mountain. Thought we would never get there. Many of the "old" winery owners resent her coming in and buying her way in . . . but that has happened a lot out there with new money.

On your "visit" list you had Karl Lawrence, Erna Schein/Behrens Family, and Crocker & Starr. I have not heard of these. I am guessing they are small family owned, by appointment. Please give us more information on these please.

We had Sequoia Grove on our list last week, but our palate gave out before we got there. Will try again next trip in October. We did get to Regusci and enjoyed their wines and shipped some home.

Also, we have not tasted at Pina, Saddleback Cellars or Long Meadow Ranch.

A take on tasting fees. Some of the wineries are getting a little ridiculous. I had one ask for a $100.00 tasting fee and they would apply that to a purchase of 6 or more bottles. I said NO! I will, and have, paid $25.00 and I justify it this way . . . we share the taste, making the fee $12.50 pp. Yes, I know you don't get as much sharing, but we are tasting, not drinking, and much of the excess wine is poured into the dump bucket anyway. What irritates me, when paying $25.00 for a tasting, that they do not take that off a purchase. On the other side, we tasted at least 3 (that I can think of and there were probably more), that did not charge a fee. Of course, we purchased. And these were three family owned wineries that the owners poured for us. I guess that is enough from me until I can get to my tasting notes on this trip. Cheers!

Wolfman, Looking forward to your report.

[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 03-09-2011).]


posted 03-07-2011 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wolfman   Click Here to Email wolfman     Edit/Delete Message
A very nice report indeed! I am embarrassed to admit I have never heard of most of those wineries.

yesilovewine - I totally agree...we spent too much money on tastings in Napa for the quality and quantity of wine we received. (more in my review soon to come)


posted 03-05-2011 10:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
This is a FANTASTIC report and those of us who frequent here really appreciate the time it takes to do these- especially in such detail.
Please stay tuned as I suspect that when the Napa posters see this they will have questions.
By the way, we are also put off by the high tasting fees over in Napa and its one of the reasons that we started going over to Sonoma; between the lower-in-general tasting costs and the great discount programs ( Visa Signature and Ticket to the Wine Road) we usually get out with tasting costs of less than $50 for a 3-day weekend! --Now, the WINE costs are a different story ! But seriously, even those we get discounted because of our participation in the above programs.


Junior Member
posted 03-05-2011 09:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ShaneO   Click Here to Email ShaneO     Edit/Delete Message
I posted this on TA as well, but based on the recent threads, thought I would post here also. We didn’t ask many questions on here before our trip, but I wanted to “give back” with winery reviews from our trip this week to Napa. Note – we love big, “in your face” fruity wines, specifically cabs and also enjoy Zin, Syrah, Cab Franc and Petite Syrah. If you like that style, you will probably see something you like below.

Hall Rutherford (appt through Gems of the Napa Valley – not the open tasting room in St. Helena) – rarely does a winery exceed all expectations. Greg hosted us on a two hour tour and tasting. Words cannot describe the facility, so I’m not going to even try other than to say AWESOME. Even better are their Artisan Series wines which are winery exclusives. Everyone we tasted was spectacular including the Bergfeld Cabernet, Kathryn Hall, Exzellenz and the Segassia Mount Veeder Cab. I can’t say enough about their wines and Greg was a spectacular host in this awesome facility.

Karl Lawrence – we have been on the allocation list here for a couple of years and we tasted this week with Ric Henry. Their wines are amazing in my opinion, so big, fruit driven and smooth. We love them all including the “regular” Cab, Morisoli, Herb Lamb and Aldin Red Wine. Ric was a great host.

Erna Schein/Behrens Family – If you are looking for a slightly different tasting with great wines that sell at a fair price with someone who really knows their stuff, check out this one. If you’re looking to be pampered in a high end tasting room with a bunch of flash, you might skip them. Oh yeah, by the way, we love their wines and they sell at very fair prices. We tasted with Robin who absolutely knows her stuff and offered a ton of insight about the winery, the winemakers, the facility and the valley. Bought the Saint Fumee, Kick Ranch Petite Sirah and Homage to Ed Syrah. If you love big, fruit driven wines with a “funky” touch, you will love them.

Keenan – stopped here at the recommendation of Robin at Behrens Family. Tasted a lot of their wine and Laura (I didn’t write her name down) was awesome. I was pleasantly surprised here due to the fact that I’ve seen their wines distributed. The range of wines is awesome including the distributed Merlot and Cab, but their smaller production was great also. We especially enjoyed their Cab Franc, Syrah and Zinfandel; however, I will be buying their Cab locally based on our tasting.

Crocker & Starr – Ric Henry from Karl Lawrence sent us over here and we spent over an hour with Mark. He was very knowledgeable and funny. They focus on a handful of wines and we really enjoyed their Cab Franc and Cabernet.

Sequoia Grove – we’ve been members here for 5+ years and they never disappoint. If you go to the tasting room and Janie is working, you will absolutely have a good time. I love most of their wines, and especially their smaller production, single vineyard cabs along with their Syrah, Cab Franc and Reserve Cab. I still can’t figure out why a lot of the “professional raters” don’t love them, but if you are looking for very good wine at very fair prices, check them out.

Good wineries:
Regusci – this is a historic place where we really enjoyed all of their wines.

Paradigm – I really liked all of their wines, specifically their Estate Cab and Zinfandel. They have a “star” winemaker, but it’s clear it’s not about her; it’s about the viticulture and producing very good wine at a very fair price.

Pina – This is our second trip to Pina and they do some really good wines. Now that they have released a less expensive line of Pina, we enjoy them even more.

Others tried or not tried:
Saddleback Cellars – I have to say that we were disappointed here. We were attracted by legendary Nils Venge, but they just did not fit our palates. I know their wines are highly rates, but we just did not enjoy them. Oh, and they charge $20/pp for tasting.

Long Meadow Ranch – we were looking forward to tasting here because it looks like they offer well respected wines at a fair price. However, we did not taste because of the $20 tasting fee. I don’t mind paying for good wine, but have an issue with paying $20 to taste wine that retails for around $40.


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