Wine lovers making their way to Napa Valley owe it to to themselves to make Jamieson Ranch Vineyards their first stop as they make their way north into wine country from San Francisco International Airport.
As the southernmost winery in Napa Valley, this impressive 300 acre estate has 100 organically farmed acres planted to vine which benefit from the cooling effects of the nearby San Pablo Bay. Varietals grown on their estate include: Viognier, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The fruit for their Cabernet Sauvignon offerings is sourced from other sites in Napa Valley.
As you make your way up the majestic tree lined driveway you’ll see the estate’s Viognier plantings along with this quirky sign pointing out that Jamieson Ranch Vineyards has a population of 63,471 vines. This fun fact sets the mood for the no nonsense laid back western setting which you’re about to encounter.
Formerly known as Kirkland Ranch Winery, Valley Gate Vineyards and most recently Reata Winery (Reata translates to Lariat in Spanish, hence the Spanish/Western aesthetic), the winery had undergone some cash-flow and wine quality challenges in the past. But big changes have taken place and its far more than just a simple re-branding of the winery.
Jamieson Ranch Vineyards is excelling under the leadership of it’s new president Bill Leigon who was the visionary behind the Hahn Family Estates mega-brand. The new winemaker Juan Jose Verdina actually served as assistant winemaker under Bill Leigon at Hahn Family Estates and Mr. Leigon believes that his talent and experience will be a tremendous asset to Jamieson Ranch. Combine this with a new executive culinary team and it’s easy to see why Jamieson Ranch Vineyards is finally hitting it’s stride.
Conveniently located off of Highway 12 and not far from where it intersects with Highway 29, there is ample parking and likely to be less of a crowd than you might find at other Napa Valley Wineries. Surprisingly there was no road noise as the serene setting is set high up and just far enough back from HWY 12. Some fun facts about the winery:
- There are actually 60,000 honey bees on the estate which provide honey for the spacious 3,000 square foot tasting room.
- The vineyards are farmed entirely organic!
- Spacious terraces afford sweeping views of Napa Valley where you can enjoy a seated tasting in an alfresco setting. They even have cozy heat lamps for those crisp Northern California days.
- Three of their wines are available on tap: The Carneros Chardonnay, Three County Pinot Noir and the Double Lariat Cabernet.
- The winery decided to keep the Reata name for it’s cooler climate varietals.
Once seated on the patio we had the choice of the JRV Signature Tasting ($15) or the JRV Reserve Tasting. We opted to taste from a combination of both and were certainly tempted by the gourmet bites offered to pair with their wines… Anyone for a grilled pear stack with buffalo mozzarella or a grilled Saint Agur blue cheese sandwich with Cabernet jam? These sounded seriously good and if we had had more time I would have definitely tasted those as well.
Our QuickNotes on what we tasted:
Reata Napa Valley Viognier 2012 ($40): From entirely estate grown fruit this 100% viognier appears pale golden yellow and reveals enticing notes of honeysuckle, caramel apple and pineapple. It’s light to medium bodied but full flavored and quite aromatic. It finishes rich yet cleanly with the 2.5% residual sugar barely noticeable. My tasting partner unequivocally decided that this was his new favorite white wine
Jamieson Ranch Silver Spur Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($28): Sourced from a small 3 acre block of Ashe Vineyard in Oakville this 100% Sauvignon Blanc is a very light straw yellow in the glass. The nose is bright, clean and tropical with grapefruit and other citrus. On the palate this expands and seems slightly fuller than the appearance/nose suggest. Note of peach, grapefruit and honey are supported by good crisp acidity.
Reata Carneros Chardonnay 2012 ($25): Medium bodied, well-balanced and with elegant oak essence. The sweet tropical fruit is complemented by floral honeysuckle. Very smooth and quite drinkable.
Reata Rose of Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2013 ($24): In contact with the skins for 24 hours it showcases a beautiful salmon color. This is nicely aromatic with rich strawberry and rose petal notes. On the palate it further reveals notes of cherry liquor with a nice crisp and clean finish -quite good.
Reata “Three County” Pinot Noir 2012 ($35): Tasted from tap – With 13,000 cases produced this 100% Pinot Noir is sourced from Sonoma, Monterey and San Benito Counties. As their entry level Pinot my expectations were low however I was really impressed with this wine and I wish I had this on tap at home! Showcasing a nice medium-garnet color it revealed bright, high-toned red fruit including raspberry, bing cherry and then lavender and nutmeg notes. It has a nicely structured medium-body with good extract and a spicy finish.
Jamieson Ranch “Double Lariat” Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($60): Produced from 100% Cabernet and with 18 months spent in French Oak this appears dark ruby red in the glass with good medium to full concentration. Notes of sage, dried cherry, cassis, and blackberry develop. The fruit is sweet and the finish long, dry and spicy. This is an excellent, classic Napa Valley Cabernet.
Jamieson Ranch Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($65): This limited production 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Napa Valley’s newest AVA. It’s even darker in color than the “Double Lariat” Cabernet and is an earthier, more rustic wine. It displays notes of dried herbs, cassis, bell pepper, mineral, dried cherry and clove on the well balanced finish. It’s a solid Cab that distinguishes itself well from their other more popular offering.
With knowledgeable, friendly staff serving great wines in a beautiful setting we can’t think of how anyone could go wrong at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. It would be a great way to start of end any trip to wine country.
John helped us explore the wine portfolio and I could have spend another few hours there with him if we hadn’t had another appointment to make. On our way out, he made sure we had time to see the ‘Fresh Coat’ of urban graffiti the winery received by a prominent collection of urban artists to support the Aldea Family Services’ Art Therapy program. Now if you still weren’t convinced, how about supporting a winery that is as open minded as it is civic minded?
Jamieson Ranch kindly requests that visitors make reservations and they are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 707.254.8673 ext. 119 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations