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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  October Trip, Day 4

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Author Topic:   October Trip, Day 4
Kod
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posted 11-10-2011 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kod     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks again Hawkeye for your advice a couple of days ago. I have read that Barlow wines are also being tasted at the Up Valley Vintners Tasting Rome in Calistoga.I will be sure to try them.

IP: 68.45.99.199

yesilovewine
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posted 11-10-2011 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks Hawkeye.
I think that we use different resources for trip research, but I'll follow your leads mentioned here.
I didn't know that Prieser Key (SP?) is available in Sonoma! I've never seen it. I have looked over the Sally Bernstein site where their articles are published on line, though.
Hope you are feeling better

IP: 71.65.250.120

Hawkeye
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posted 11-10-2011 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Yes,

When I begin to search for wineries to visit, I look for smaller family owned first. They are almost always by appointment, but you find some of your best wines here.

The first place I go is to the map on WineCountry.com (either Napa or Sonoma). Almost always a magenta triangle in front of the winery name will indicate by appointment . . . but not always . . . you need to check websites. For instance on the map Cliff Lede and Robert Sinskey (both have excellent Cabs) show the magenta triangle. However, if you check the website, appointments are only for groups of 6 or more. If the winery has a black dot in front of the name, it is walk in.

Another publication that I rely heavily on is the Preiser Key which is available in Napa and Sonoma for FREE. It has a more complete listing than Wine Country. I look through the alphabetical listing and check for Not Public (sometimes if you contact them they will let you visit and taste) and by appointment.

I will always check back Board comments from Damombo, Carjeff and others to see if I can find some smaller wineries that I have not visited in Napa and Yesilovewine comments on Sonoma County. These are people I trust.

I enjoy making appointments because I get to talk to the people, often a winery owner. Normally, I will make an appointment, followed by a walk in, then by appointment, etc. This gives me flexibility to spend more time at the appointment or find another winery by suggestion of the host where I am tasting. Often the suggestion is by appointment so the host will call and arrange for you to "go on over".

The people are important to me. If I am kind of shoved aside and ignored, I will not purchase or go back. That is what I like about making appointments at smaller wineries, you are normally the only ones there.

Yes, I guess you got more than you bargained for. When you do your day in Napa, trust me and let me make your schedule. Just a warning, they will probably feature higher end Cabs.

Life is very, very good!

-Hawkeye

[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 11-10-2011).]

[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 11-10-2011).]

IP: 68.169.184.155

yesilovewine
Member
posted 11-10-2011 09:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Hawkeye,
I'm getting thirsty reading about your visits....and the descriptions of some of your purchases are, again, making me think that if I ever get back to wine country I need to spend a day exploring the Napa of you and carjeff and Damambo!
The only thing is that you all like to make appointments and I really don't....do any of your locations offer tastings that are not by appointment? In other words, are appointments required or an option?

[This message has been edited by yesilovewine (edited 11-10-2011).]

IP: 71.65.250.120

Hawkeye
Member
posted 11-10-2011 07:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Day 4, Friday, October 28

Today we were joined by a group of friends bonded together by the daylily. There were 10 of us from Tennessee, Kentucky and California. We meet every year in October. They allow me to set up the schedule which I really enjoy doing. Most of the time for the group I will take them only to wineries that I have tasted, but this time I inserted a couple new ones (to me)

Today we were to have a picnic lunch at Zahtila Winery so we began the day by going to the Palisades Deli to order our lunch which the winery owners would pick up for us.

Our first stop was at Cuvasion Vineyards on the Silverado Trail. This was a new one to me. We were early and decided to sit outside around their picnic tables. One of the hosts came out and talked with us about their wine for awhile then invited us in for our tasting. I believe the fee was $20.00 per person. I have found that for a group, the fee is normally slightly higher than for individuals. However, they allowed us to share so that cut the fee in half per person. As I said earlier, I have lost my tasting notes so will just tell you what I brought home. Here it was the 08 Brandlin Cab that we purchased. Here is what their website says: “Classic Cabernet fruit, cassis and currant, dominate the aromatics accentuated by vanilla, mocha and sandalwood. On the palate, the black currant notes are fleshed out with some jammy blackberry and quince fruit, and a nice lavender, cola nut edge”. Not sure that I will visit here again.

Since we were ahead of schedule, we paid an unscheduled visit to Frank Family. This was the only winery in the area that did not require an appointment. As with previous visits, I was disappointed in their hosts and their wines.

Then we headed for Zahtila. Laura Zahtila-Swanton was anticipating our visit. She had our lunch set up for us on the back patio overlooking the vineyards. As we ate and tasted, Laura talked about their vineyards, explaining that they select some vines each year to replace because of age or lack of production. Their wines were tasting good with our lunch and we had a great time. Toward the end of lunch, Mike Swanton, Laura’s husband joined us and gave us a tour of the property. Our purchase was the 05 Beckstoffer Vineyards, Georges III Cab. Their website states, “Lots of earth notes and that wonderful, dusty quality so characteristic of Rutherford frame this wine’ Others in the group purchased Cab, Zin and Chardonnay. I believe the tasting fee was $10.00.

Our afternoon began with a tasting of Barlow wines with owner Barr Smith. His winery is on the Silverado Trail, but for groups such as this, he tastes in a cave at von Strasser Winery where his wines are made. This was a great setting, deep in the cave with candles flickering in the dark. All of Barr’s wines that we tasted were red. He has a Zinfandel that was very good, a Merlot that was a cut above, a blend called Barrouge (Barr red) and a Cab that was outstanding. His 08 Zin and 05 Cab were the ones we brought home. Here is what he writes about the Cab: “Our 2005 unfiltered Estate Cabernet Sauvignon fills the glass with dark currants and rum raisin with just a hint of French vanilla. The palate is loaded with black sour cherry flavors and hints of ripe plum that are woven around the soft tannins”. A really nice tasting. There was no tasting fee.

Since we were already at von Strasser, it was next on our schedule. We left the cave and went back to their tasting room where we had our tasting outside. By the way, the weather was outstanding for the whole week that we were there. Sorry, I do not remember the host’s name, but he was excellent. Rudy von Strasser, owner and winemaker came by and talked to the group for awhile. We tasted several Cabs which were all very good, but our cases were getting filled quickly so we settled on the 08 Diamond Mountain Cab to bring home. Here is what the website has to say: “This is what Cabernet is all about! It is a big, bold wine with intense fruit, a full body and a long smooth finish”. A very nice tasting. I believe they charge $20.00 for tasting.

The last stop of the day was just up the driveway (I couldn’t call it a road) from von Strasser at Reverie. Since I was not feeling well at this point and the walk out into the redwoods looked a little long for me, I did not participate in the tasting. The group did seem to enjoy it.

Our dinner Friday night was at the Calistoga Inn which we all enjoy.

IP: 68.169.184.155

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