Amizetta Winery | Come for the View | Stay for the Wine!
The year was 1979 when Amizetta and Spencer Clark discovered the very special parcel of land that was to become Amizetta Vineyards and later house Amizetta’s Estate Winery. With a dream of producing world-class wines in Napa Valley, they searched extensively for the perfect location with hillside exposures like those they had seen during their travels throughout Europe.
Upon arriving on my recent, unexpected and serendipitous visit to the Amizetta Winery it took no time at all to understand why the Clark’s fell in love. With commanding, panoramic views of Lake Hennessy below nestled into the green mountain landscape coupled with promising hillsides soils composed of rocky ‘sobrante loam’, Amizetta Winery came to fruition in 1985.
Amizetta Winery benefits from it’s steeply graded hillside vineyards rising over 1,000 feet above the valley floor and comprising just over 30 acres planted to vine with ideal southern exposures.
Today, the planting of such steep vineyard terraces would invite a prohibitively expensive permitting process. Hillside vineyards are desirable for the ideal drainage and the vines are forced to struggle, resulting in small, thick-skinned berries which can produce powerful yet age-worthy wines.
Amizetta Winery is located at the tail end of Howell Mountain in Napa’s Conn Valley region. It’s just up the road from some of my favorites, including Seavey Vineyard and Anderson’s Conn Valley, yet I had surprisingly never heard of it. That is, ironically, until I was at Seavey Vineyard this past weekend for their open house when a friend invited me up for a glass of wine.
We were warmly greeted by Spencer Clark Jr. and his girlfriend Tara Blum who made us feel like family during our visit. We were given a tour of the winery as well as the opportunity to taste through current releases and a reserve Cabernet from barrel. I was really impressed with the quality of the wines and the prices are still quite reasonable by Napa Valley standards, particularly for robust hillside Cabernet!
Spencer Clark Jr. is joined by his brothers Edward and Perry in sharing winemaking and management responsibilities now that his parents have taken a step back from their day-to-day involvement. 2012 is their very first vintage and if it’s any barometer of whether they know what they’re doing, they’re killing it. On that note, let’s pop the cork on the 2012 Amizetta Cabernet Sauvignon!
Appearance: A dense, almost opaque purple-red.
Nose: The fragrant nose suggests ripe, juice dark fruit and flowers interlaced with sweet oak and graphite. There’s a bit of heat coming through as well.
On the palate: The Amizetta Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, rich and viscous – filling the mouth with juicy, sweet black currant and incense along with hints of dark cherry supported by a bounty of toasty oak. This is big and extracted yet maintains a silky smooth, almost creamy mouthfeel. The finish benefits from polished, nearly fully-integrated tannin.
Varietal Composition: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Napa Valley, CA
Value Rating: 3.75 / 5
Where I got it: Amizetta Winery (Sample)
Should you buy? Fans of rich, ripe, extracted Napa Cabernet will love Amizetta Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon. It manages to marry power and finesse in a package that while not inexpensive, is actually reasonably priced by Napa standards for a wine of this caliber. However, if you’re sensitive to oak, this might not be the wine for you.
The Specifics | Amizetta Winery
Location: 1099 Greenfield Rd, St Helena, CA 94574
Tasting Fee: $50 per person, waived with each 6 bottle purchase.
Included in the Tasting: A tour of the winery and caves along with a sampling of current releases.
Wine Prices: $20-$125
Appointment Required? Yes, contact 707-963-1460 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Time to Allot: Approximately 90 minutes
Should You Go? This small winery is producing big wines at reasonable prices paired with stunning views. Amizetta Winery is a must visit when in Napa Valley.
- The name Amizetta traces its origins to a Native American language and means ‘little friend’.
- In an effort to reduce labor costs the Clark’s have developed an innovative, electronic pump-over system.
- Eddie Clark is married to Jenny Wagner, the family that produces the popular Caymus wines.
- Amizetta Winery’s roof was outfitted with over 100 solar panels in 2005. It provides enough electricity to power the guest house, main house, winery and 6 wells on property.
- Amizetta Winery is the last piece of private property before the Los Posadas state park and according to Amizetta this means that all of the water feeding Amizetta’s wells and springs is uncontaminated by pesticides.
For more information about Amizetta Winery, click here.