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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  Trip Report 11/12 to 11/118

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Author Topic:   Trip Report 11/12 to 11/118
carjeff
Member
posted 11-20-2011 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carjeff   Click Here to Email carjeff     Edit/Delete Message
Kod,

Glad you enjoyed your trip to wine country. Thanks for the great trip report. We were also there 11/12-11/15, but are a little slow on posting our trip report. Especially glad you enjoyed Henri at White Rock. We visited there during our last trip a few years ago, and it was one of our favorites. Since both you and Hawkeye enjoyed it, we will have to add Midsummer Cellars to our list for our next trip.

FYI- we are just down the Shore from you in Egg Harbor Township. My wife actually grew up in Cherry Hill.

IP: 108.25.14.104

Kod
Member
posted 11-20-2011 01:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kod     Edit/Delete Message
I ordered a case 6 whites and 6 reds from White Rocks and while am very satisfied with the whites hope the reds taste OK. It was the first stop of the day and our palates were intact.

IP: 68.45.99.199

Hawkeye
Member
posted 11-20-2011 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Kod,

WOW, your trip report was like taking another trip to Napa and enjoying some wines that I have not tried before.

I have made a note of Rafanelli as a place to visit on my next trip. I just checked their website and saw that they are waaaaay out Dry Creek Road. They certainly would not qualify for my "small" wineries, but you have piqued my curiosity with their Cab. Zins, I know where to go on Dry Creek Road, but not Cabs and Merlot.

We have been to Robert Young a couple times and have a bottle of their 05 Estate Cab in our cooler. Although a nice tasting room, I was not blown away by their wines.

Maybe it was because I wasn't feeling well, but I was not that impressed with White Rock wines. Getting the tour from Henri was certainly special, but how many times do you need to see where grapes go in and come out as juice?

You have piqued my interest with Tulocay. I like the old down home tasting on the owners porch. I just checked out their website and just because he has a picture of his dog, Buddy on the website, is enough to get me to visit. Who knows, maybe our palates are just enough different that I will like them. If not, like you, I will purchase a bottle and head back to the hotel.

I am always pleased when someone enjoys wines that I have recommended. I think Midsummer Cellars, and owner Rollie Heitz, are special. And the price point of the wines ain't bad either! This is one of those stops that make wine tasting special. I believe Rollie's brothers (maybe father) owns Heitz Cellars on Hwy 29. I have tasted there (NO TASTING FEE) but was not impressed by the wines.

I will also add Seavey to my list. I like those small, family owned wineries making a couple Cabs. I will also add Amizetta. I sometimes find those "dirty barnyard Cabs" interesting enough to try.

One of my favorite tasting areas are the rooms in Yountville. I love Girard, Jessup, Hill Family, Hope & Grace, Cornerstone, etc., etc. There are some great wines here.

When you take your friends, if you want them to have a great experience, thate them up to Hall Rutherford for a tour and a tasting in their cave dining room of high end wines. It is special.

Also, try Hartwell on the Silverado trail. Definitely high end cabs in an estate setting.

Kod, thanks for the great review that reminds of of where we have been and where we should go.

- Hawkeye

[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 11-20-2011).]

IP: 68.169.184.155

Kod
Member
posted 11-20-2011 06:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kod     Edit/Delete Message
We just returned from a week in Napa Valley. Aside from wine tasting we went on 4 hikes and 4 bike rides, in addition to going to many wonderful restaurants. Our home base was the Yountville Hotel, recently remodeled, with a warm outdoor pool perfect for swimming laps every morning. The hotel had an outdoor hot tub where guests congregated in the evening drinking their purchases and discussing wineries. But since this is a wine forum, here is my review of the wineries we visited.

Vinoteca Tasting Room in Santa Rosa was our first stop as I wanted to taste Bjornstad’s chardonnays. While I was very disappointed with them, I bought a couple bottles of Super Sonoran Mertitage whose wine maker was present. Then off to Williamson Tasting Room in Healdsburg with their free wine and food pairings all designed to get you to purchase. I disliked all their wines. We spent the night in the Hampton Inn in Windsor whose room was superb.

The next morning we had an appointment at Rafanelli in a beautiful setting north of Healdsburg. There was nothing special about the tasting which lasted 20 minutes and consisted of 3 wines, but they were terrific especially the merlot and cab, even though they are known for their zinfandels. At $30 to $40, they represent an excellent buy. As we made our way towards Calistoga we stopped at Robert Young in Alexander Valley, another bucolic property with a very small but friendly tasting room. I was primarily interested in their barrel select chardonnay but was not impressed due to a bitter aftertaste. They gave us many tastings with generous pours which we disposed of in the containers. But their 2005 Scion cab was rich, full bodied and ready to drink. On our way to Yountville our last stop was Vincent Arroyo in Calistoga. They have a wide variety of reds that sell out and they do not have a wine club. The tasting, by appointment only, was friendly, and very extensive. We were impressed with their merlot, cabs, and especially the petite syrah.

On Monday, we had an afternoon appointment at White Rocks whose owner while gave us a very didactic tour and educational session. Their reserve chardonnay was rich and flavorful, and we bought a case of their reds and whites. I actually enjoyed their standard cab over the 2003 reserve one. Henri was so delighted with our purchase that he gave us a bottle of the reserve chardonnay to take to dinner that night. Our 2nd stop was at Tulocay just east of Napa. This was as low key a tasting I have ever been to and reminded me of going down to a friend of mine’s basement where he makes wines. We sat on his porch overlooking the mountains and sipped on 4 of his wines, all of which I disliked. I did end up buying a bottle but really should not have.

Tuesday was a 3 winery day and we started off at Midsummers which Hawkeye has described very well. Rollie is a very laid back nice person and his wines are wonderful. It was so relaxing sitting with him outside overlooking the meadow talking about the wine and the area. He turned us on to a great hiking spot in Angwin. Our next stop was Seavey deep into Sage Canyon Road toward Lake Hennessey. This was another private experience and we got to meet Mr Seavey who is 81 years old and was mountain biking in the hills. His son and Alex, our host, were extremely friendly and the area is just beautiful. We ended up purchasing 2 of their Corvina Cabernets but for the wine buyer with more expensive tastes there were some older vintages to try. Our last stop was Amizetta Winery, a curvy steep ride to the very top of the mountain overlooking the lake. We thought the views might were more spectacular than those at Kuleto. The winemaker, Eddie, the owner’s son, had recently taken over. There were numerous barrel tastings and a few conventional tastings, but their wine is more of the “European style” with a dirty barnyard flavor. Eddie is changing this and judging by his barrel samples will be coming out with some awesome cabs in 2012. We did not like anything and there was a $25 per person tasting fee. Eddie gave us a bottle of 2008 cab we just tasted. But even the next day it never opened up.

The following day, we spent much of the time hiking around Angwin, but afterwards stopped at Upvalley Vintners in Calistoga. We had a friendly generous tasting but after 3 “begs”, she finally opened up a bottle of the Barlow Cab which Hawkeye has recommended. It was very nice. We then stopped at Jessup in Yountville for another very generous and fun tasting. I have had their wines before and especially enjoyed their “Table For 4” Meritage. Their merlot and cab were also purchased as well as their zinfandel port.

On Thursday, we stopped into Hill Family in Yountville for a complimentary tasting. I had passed by this tasting room many times in the past, and on this day was impressed with their merlot and Atlas Peak Cab. I joined their wine club and will see how it goes. Then we visited Keenan on Spring Mountain, so beautiful and also a friendly laid back vibe. Anthony, a buyer for Jackson Hole Resorts and other properties was at the tasting room seriously taking notes. I thought that their reserve cab and cab franc were exceptional. Anthony recommended Corison Winery in St Helena for high end cabs but we did not have time- perhaps next trip. Our last stop was another small place, Failla on the Silverado Trail. This was another private tasting of chardonnays and pinots and they were both excellent.We sat on a comfortable sofa chatting and sipping some great pinots. My wife fell asleep. We bumped into our host, Geoff, later that night at Bistro Jeanty, a very nice and personable young man.

On our way to explore the city of Napa on our last day, we stopped at Domaine Chandon for a 2 for 1 tasting that consisted of 3 half glasses of reserve bubbly wines. This is a large commercial place, the only one with a tipping vase. They have a large tasting room, with some tables and you can order food. I enjoyed their $100 top wine but did not purchase. In Napa we stopped at the Tasting Room at Oxbow which features Mahoney Vineyards. About 10 years ago, we loved their chardonnay but could no longer get it in NJ where we live. For $18 a bottle we thought it would be a good deal, but my wife hated it on this day. Our tastes have really changed. They have a beautiful, new tasting room but the wines were lacking and I resented the host asking me what I did for a living. Our final stop was Vintners Collective at the last minute as a friend had called me to ask me to taste Ancien Pinot Fiddlestix St.Rita Hills. We had a complimentary tasting card from our hotel and the unfriendly host began by asking me to describe the hotel person who sent us, and then a few more annoying questions. They refused to allow me to taste this wine as well as the Richard Perry Cab. We did sample a few other wines. I have been here before and many of the smaller wineries they represent have wonderful products. I have Richard Perry’s Cabs and Syrahs in my cellar and they are superb.

This was our 3rd visit to wine country and our first since the stock market crash of 2008. Things have changed her as the tasting fees have escalated. There are still quite a few more wineries to visit, especially Spring Mt and Howell Mt and our friends who we will travel with next time want to visit some of the high end, well known places like Quintessa, Opus, and Phelps.

IP: 68.45.99.199

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