Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hidden Gem in Napa Valley

This weekend I went wine tasting in Napa Valley with my brother Mike, and friends Cary and Steve. We met at Jim's Restaurant for a nice, filling breakfast and then hit the road. Cary has a big truck, so he drew the short straw for designated driver. It was pouring rain when we set out, but things mostly cleared up by the time we made it to Napa.

In order, we visited the following wineries:

A. Signorello Vineyards
B. Chimney Rock Winery
C. Duckhorn Vineyards
D. Larkmead Vineyards
E. Keenan Winery
F. Guilliams Vineyards
G. Merryvale Vineyards

I'll be recording tasting notes for the various wines which we tasted. You can view them by selecting the links above. Fortunately, we weren't drinking the full amounts that were poured for us at each winery. Because Steve is connected with the wine industry, I think they may have been pouring generously for us. I don't think we could have handled visiting 7 wineries if we drank everything they poured. And, Steve's wife Cindy packed us a wonderful picnic lunch which we ate on the fly between vineyards. Thanks Cindy!

The hidden gem we discovered was Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga. We arrived to a completely empty tasting room. I'm not sure if it was the weather, the fact that it was Sunday, or the fact that Calistoga is near the top of the Napa Valley and many people are too tipsy to make it that far. But, I can tell you that people are missing out!

Our host, also named Ted, was extremely knowledgeable and a pleasure to meet. He explained the history of Larkmead, one of the oldest vineyards in Napa. The original winery building, dates back to 1884 and is now part of Frank Family Vineyards, owned by members of the Rombauer family. Each wine we tasted at Larkmead was superb. We did not come home empty handed.

You can see the wineries we visited on this map.

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