Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Napa Trip

On Saturday, I went up to Napa with a couple of friends to do some wine tastings at some smaller, boutique producers with a focus on high-end Cabernet Sauvignon, which Napa is particularly well-known for.  We had some amazing wines in some beautiful settings.  We visited:
  • Keever Vineyards: a small family owned vineyard with only 6 acres of vines, where we tasted a Sauvignon Blanc ($28), Syrah ($45) and Cabernet Sauvignon ($90).  I think Keever is worth a visit for the views alone.  They also did a great job of taking us through their whole wine-making process; we went on a private tour of their wine making facilities and caves.  Appointments are necessary, tastings are $20 and include the tour.
  • Whitehall Lane: we made an impromptu stop here, no appointments are necessary.  We tried a lot of wine, but they weren't as notable.  Their wines are more widely available at local retail stores.
  • Pride Mountain: Pride was very cool, up in the hills north of St. Helena, towards Sonoma / Calistoga. My favorites were the complex and elegant Viognier ($42), and really nice Merlot ($56) and the Cabernet Sauvignon ($66).  Prices are mid-range for Napa, but definitely worth it.  Pride is definitely worth a visit; most of the tastings are poured inside the caves during the tour; we even got to do a couple of barrel tastings.  They have some picnic tables for lunch.  I would definitely visit them again.  Appointments are necessary well in advance (even for Will Farrell who took the tour after us), tastings are $10, including the tour, but waived if wine is purchased. 
  • Merus Wines:  We tasted some really wonderful 06 and 07 Cabernet Sauvignons at Merus, but they were quite expensive at ~$130 a bottle.  Merus is a very small, exclusive producer that only makes Cabernet Sauvignon.  I believe that you need to be on the mailing list in order to get a private appointment, although the tasting and tour is free.
  • 750 Wines:  This was an awesome little wine shop in St. Helena that our host at Merus sent us to after our tasting.  They carry a well-edited selection of boutique, mostly mailing list only producers.  We tried a variety of interesting wines, including roses, chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon.  It was a great experience; the proprietors were very cool.  I would definitely make a return visit; it is a really nice way to taste a variety of wines from a variety of producers with some very knowledgeable hosts who are passionate about what they do.  Appointments are necessary, tasting is free. 
  • We finished with dinner at Redd Restaurant in Yountville.  Dinner was very good, but since there are so many great restaurants in the area, I'm not sure that I would make a special trip back.
 More pictures and details can be found here.

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