Day six of our California Wine Experience is underway!
Our first stop was Baldacci Vineyards in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. This was a really educational stop; winemaker Rolando Herrera, vineyard manager Garret Oliver, and owner Tom Baldacci were on hand to share with us different facets of their business. Rolando took the group out into the vineyards where he had a table set up with three different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon for us to taste and compare. We also had the chance to use a refractometer to measure the sugar levels in the grapes – an indicator of whether the vineyard is ready to be picked. In the cellar, Rolando poured barrel samples and explained his philosophy on barrel aging Stags Leap District Cabernet. Finally, Tom Baldacci was around the corner in the caves pouring the finished wines – IV Sons, Stags Leap Cabernet and Brenda’s Vineyard Cabernet.
Next stop was a unique visit with Piña Napa Valley – instead of going to the winery, they took us to the Wolff Vineyard off of State Lane in Yountville for a walk-about wine tasting. All of the Piña brothers, along with winemaker Anna Monticelli and assistant winemaker Macario Montoya were there to take us through the wines and the vineyard. A first for many of the team; we tasted a vertical of the Wolff Vineyard, vintages 2006 through 2012. What a treat! These were stellar wines and all slightly different reflecting the characteristics of the vintage. This was a tremendous learning experience.
Now it’s on to lunch with brothers Philip and Eric Titus, owners of Titus Vineyards. Their winery is located on the Silverado Trail, just north of St Helena. As we arrived, each of the brothers hopped on a bus and led us on a vineyard tour before heading to our lunch site, which was tucked away on the southwest corner of their vineyards. Most importantly, it was in the shade, it’s been very hot the past few days! The latest release of their Cabernet Sauvignon was excellent, along with the Sauvignon Blanc. There is a new project from them coming soon, so keep an eye out for those when you’re in our stores.
A new stop this year was up next, the small-lot producer Chateau Boswell. Also located on the Silverado Trail in St Helena, it’s is a beautiful estate with some incredible caves, built to the owner’s green building specifications. Chateau Boswell has the distinction of being the first certified Napa Green Winery! Russell Bevan is now their winemaker making both the Chateau Boswell wines, along with the Jacquelynn line of wines. The tasting was held in the caves, hosted by Susan Boswell, Josh Peeples and Russell Bevan. It’s very unique for a Napa valley producer to be focusing on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production, but that is their primary focus. They also make Cabernet; but from walking through the caves, you can see that the majority of the barrels are from Burgundy. It was my first time tasting these wines and when they hit the stores I’ll be picking up some of the Boswell Chardonnay for sure.
Our final stop (and one of my favorite views of Napa Valley) was Chappellet Winery, perched atop Pritchard Hill. Pritchard Hill is considered the “high rent” district in Napa, there are some really tremendous wines coming from here. Chappellet’s neighbors include top producers like Bryant Family, Colgin, David Arthur and Ovid. In comparison, all of Chappellet’s wines are tremendous values. The family just built a new winery on the property, striving to be as energy efficient as possible. Several members of the Chappellet family were with us, along with winemaker Philip Titus, who we saw earlier in the day at his own winery, Titus Vineyards. We tasted the latest vintage of the Chappellet Signature Cabernet and their top wine, Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon! After the tasting, we headed down to a meadow that featured incredible views of Lake Hennessey and the Napa Valley below us. Dinner was served and the Mexican cuisine was top notch, I’m a sucker for good chile rellenos! On the tables throughout dinner were other wines they produce, both Chappellet and Sonoma-Loeb. We savored the food, company, view and as the sun slowly set, we made our way back to the hotel.
Our final day is tomorrow!