Perliss Vineyards | Expect Big Things from this Small Producer
When you think of Calistoga, you would be correct in thinking that this sleepy locale nestled within the Northern stretches of Napa Valley is known for its relatively warmer temperatures than those areas of the valley located further south, with their proximity to the cooling influences of the San Pablo Bay.
Yet on the beautifully clear August morning when I visited Perliss Vineyards, I pleasantly surprised by the cool, persistent breezes serenading me as I explored the organically cultivated, gently sloped 2.6 acre Raven Vineyard with vintner Anthony Perliss.
Sharing a bottle of Borra Vineyards Rose with Winemaker Markus Niggli
As many times as I’ve made the arduous but worthwhile cross country trek to explore Sonoma and Napa, I had never been to Lodi – despite it being a relatively easy hour and a half drive from Napa.
I regularly stay in Sonoma and scale the switchbacks of the Mayacamas (this is how I wake myself up for those early morning visits) via Oakville Grade to visit producers in Napa, and vice versa. Depending on where they’re located, that in itself often consumes the better part of an hour. So why hadn’t I made it to nearby Lodi?
The answer is that I didn’t think I would enjoy the wines. Lodi primarily forged its reputation as more of a grower than a producer, and with over 700 growers in Lodi, much of its fruit is still sold to bulk producers. With grape growing serving as the lifeblood of the region, its understandable that Lodi has faced challenges cultivating its brand as a source of premium wine production.
Ehlers Estate| Your Mornings Will Never Be The Same
I’m not much of a morning person. It typically takes me a few hours, and a least as many coffees before I’m completely awake. My morning routine is pretty mundane here in Washington, D.C. Up at 7:20, make a quick coffee and then take the kids to school. After returning home, I make some fried eggs, another coffee and get to work in my home office. Exciting stuff, right? But after my recent visit to Ehlers Estate, it has been quite the challenge to return to my normal morning routine…
I’ve been to many tastings that start at 10 am, but to my knowledge Ehlers Estate is the only Napa Valley winery offering the opportunity to wake up over a flight of estate-grown wines paired with buttery, flaky croissants delivered fresh from Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Where else but in Napa Valley can you literally wake up to a wine tasting?!
Young Inglewood | Mastering the Tightrope in Napa Valley
What I look for in a good Cabernet Sauvignon is a combination of depth, structure and balance. If that doesn’t sound like a tall order, believe me it isn’t often enough that all of these components come together in a truly compelling and harmonious fashion – yet the 2012 Young Inglewood Cabernet Sauvignon manages to makes it seem effortless.
Before Jim and Jacky Young founded Young Inglewood Vineyards, they asked themselves what their favorite wines had in common. They keenly pinpointed that it was in fact the often elusive element of balance that made these wines so special.
Franciscan Estate Winery | An Under the Radar Overachiever
I have been buying and drinking Franciscan Estate wines for years now. In fact, shortly after tasting the 94 point 2007 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon I promptly added a few cases to my stores. Considering that I paid just under $20 at the time, these wines were amongst the most reliable, consistent values I had come across in Cabernet, especially Napa Cabernet, in some time.
Rombauer Vineyards & Winery | More Than Just Chardonnay!
Sometimes the best surprises happen where you least expect them, right? That was certainly the case on my most recent visit to Napa Valley. After visiting over 10 wineries (it was a long trip), Rombauer Vineyards managed to make a lasting impression. You might be as surprised as I was to discover why.
Cairdean Estate Winery | The Complete Package in Napa?
I have driven past the Cairdean Estate Winery several times yet never fully appreciated the scale and quality of the project. The modern structure that’s visible appears relatively understated and unassuming from Highway 29. Simply passing by you would never guess that newly completed Cairdean Estate Winery is actually a fairly expansive compound replete with one of the more complete, all-encompassing visitor experiences in Napa Valley.
Sure, you could come just to taste their award-winning estate-grown Cabernet Franc, or to grab a gourmet coffee (or bloody mary for that matter) at Butterscots Cafe, where the warm, welcoming aesthetic draws inspiration from a European kitchen. You could also do your best to resist the carefully curated, luxurious, checkbook-draining temptations on display at the Redolent Mercantile.
Lokoya is a place that’s quietly tucked away along the Mayacamas Mountains in Napa Valley, in-between Mount Veeder and Spring Mountain. Meaning “the place where the geese fly over”, the area is remote and serene. There isn’t much happening here… unless of course you know where to look.
I had the good pleasure of meeting Suzanne Phifer Pavitt of Napa Valley’s Phifer Pavitt Wine this past week in Washington, D.C. Despite juggling a rather busy schedule (having just left a meeting with superstar restaurateur Jose Andres and his Master Sommelier Andy Myers) she took the time to personally introduce me to her Date Night Cabernet and the story that inspired it.
Suzanne has become quite adept at not just tackling a busy schedule, but also overcoming obstacles. She spent 14 years working for Chicago tech firm Comdisco in high tech equipment leasing, as one of only two women on a team of over 70 men. Needless to say, she is no push over and oozes an endearing combination of passionate determination and southern charm.
Wren Hop Vineyards | Crafting Pinot for Cab Lovers
Google “Wren Hop” and amongst the results is Google’s own description as a ‘Place of Worship’. So you might understand my confusion after looking for directions to a winery that was the top recommendation of Nora Mahan, a well-connected travel concierge for American Express’ destination club Inspirato.
While Wren Hop Vineyards might not be a place of worship in the traditional sense, you might not find this to be such a gross mischaracterization after you visit and taste through their portfolio. To be frank… I’d be surprised if you didn’t find yourself worshiping their Pinot Noirs.