Beautiful Napa Valley
Joseph Phelps Insignia Event, Beringer Veranda, Alpha Omega Terrace, Caldwell Cave, Knights Bridge Vault + Shout Outs
We try to visit Napa Valley every other year to discover new places and to enjoy club member events – and now both seem to last a lot longer. Gone are the days of standing up for quick tastes in a tasting room and then driving down the road to stand for another. Most wineries seem to be striving to present unique experiences. We had three full days and only covered a few wineries. Plans for next year: stay longer – and centrally located – and avoid weekends when possible.
As Joseph Phelps Vineyard preferred wine club members we were invited to attend the “Insignia” release party this past September. According to the website “From 1977 on, Cabernet Sauvignon was never less than 50% of the Insignia blend and gradually became the dominant varietal. Joe’s vision evolved: Insignia would always be a proprietary red Bordeaux-style blend.”
Insignia Weekend attendees will be among the first to taste 2017 Insignia from barrel while enjoying live music and delicious seasonal dishes from our Culinary Team. I wasn’t there for the food or the music, I was here for the wine, which turned out to be MUCH more than what was promised. Besides the 2016 and 2017 Insignia, the current Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, we got to taste library wines including 1983 Cabernet Sauvignon, 1989 Insignia, 1989 Cabernet Sauvignon, 1999 Insignia, 2009 Backus Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Chardonnay and 2011 Chardonnay. We also got a pour from Lynn Phelps who told us that the family had just bought their first new vineyard since Joe had passed away.
Tasting Reservations: 800-707-5789
Our Reserve Club membership at Beringer allows for several different tasting experiences. So when I called and worked out dates and times we chose a Porch “Veranda” Tasting for lunch so we could also order a nice “cheese plate” that not only had cheese but also a sliced baguette, charcuterie, Cabernet butter with Cabernet rock salt, nuts and dried fruit. We enjoyed: 2017 Private Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay; 2015 Bancroft Ranch Merlot, Howell Mountain; 2015 Vogt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley; 2014 and 2015 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley; 2015 Spring Mountain, Marston Single Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Book online: www.beringer.com/visit/tastings
Alpha Omega Terrace
I had tasted the Alpha Omega lineup a few years back courtesy Ian Blackburn from WineLA.com and it had lingered, on my palate and my mind for so long I was itching to taste again. Thrilled to learn that winemaker Henrik Poulsen, once the assistant winemaker at Alpha Omega, is currently leading the winemaking team, and Jean Hoefliger remains on as consulting winemaker. We were happy to taste quite a bit, as 90% of what they make is sold in the winery: 2015 Chardonnay, 2017 Grenache/Syrah, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016 Proprietary Red, 2016 Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and then a few of their exceptional single vineyard wines: Drew Vineyard, Chardonnay 2017, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley; Sunshine Valley Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley; Stagecoach Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Atlas Peak, Napa Valley. Our final wine was their flagship wine, the ERA 2017, a predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon blend from five of their single vineyards and one other, Sleeping Lady – it’s a phenomenally tasting wine.
Contact email@example.com or call 707-963-9999.
Learned about Caldwell Vineyard before visiting the Coombsville winery: vintner John Caldwell is known as a “smuggler and clone expert” and they have the only Master Cooper in the U.S. – there are only 34 worldwide. (This means that the winemaker for Caldwell, Marc Gagnon, can get exactly what he wants from a barrel as master cooper Ramiro Herrera stops the toasting process exactly when he detects a certain aroma like mocha and chocolate.)
While we settled in for our Cave Tasting we also learned that Caldwell purchased the hilltop land, a former dairy farm, with the idea to build homes. After taking about a year and a half to clear the land he learned that only about six homes could be built there. He went for vines instead, and lucky for us that he did. We started with two Champagnes: NV Caldwell Philippe Gamet and 2004 Caldwell Chateau De Boursault that are both made for them in Champagne, France. Nice start! From there we moved on to 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 Chardonnay, 2016 “Gold Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015 “Silver” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016 “Rocket Science” Proprietary Red (We asked why name it that? “Because we can.”), 2016 Carmenere, 2016 “Right Bank” 50% Cab Franc and 50% Merlot, 2016 “Maverick” red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc, and we finished with an NV “Douro” Dessert wine. There wasn’t a single wine I didn’t enjoy.
By appointment only: 707-255-1294.
Knights Bridge Vault
Also a winery I had learned about from WineLA.com, Knights Bridge was one I wanted to visit. Happy to find them in Calistoga, in the historic Calistoga National Bank building, where we enjoyed conversing with Kerry Andrews all about Calistoga and all they have to offer in a small-town feel. We viewed the only wine vault (former bank vault) in Napa, enjoyed cheese and charcuterie while tasting through their exceptional wines: 2018 Knights Bridge Sauvignon Blanc, Fairview; 2015 Pont de Chevalier Chardonnay, Estate Vineyard; 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Vineyard; 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Dr. Crane Vineyard and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, To Kalon Vineyard. We enjoyed them all, especially the Cabs.
Book online: https://www.knightsbridgewinery.com/Visit-Us-Events/Private-Tastings-in-The-Vault
Shout out to Phifer Pavitt and their 2015 XRoads Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. We had a glorious multi-course dinner with our friends Gary and Terry Warburton in the Solbar at Solage Resort where Gary brought the wine – he happens to be their white winemaker – and I was smitten. As soon as we got home I ordered some! https://www.phiferpavittwine.com/Wines/CabernetSauvignon.
We’ve visited many wineries over the years, but can’t visit all each time, so wanted to shout out to other favorites: Del Dotto, Hourglass, Larkmead, Quintessa, Rugusci, Hall, Phifer Pavitt, Duckhorn, Terra Valentine, Round Pond, Schramsberg, Darioush, Silver Oak, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Cakebread, Flora Springs, Switchback Ridge, Rocca, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Freemark Abbey, Robert Mondavi, Plumpjack, Domaine Chandon, Cuvaison, Robert Sinskey, Frank Family, Acumen, Nickel and Nickel, Far Niente, Trefethen, Grigch, Buena Vista, St. Supery, ZD Wines, Knights Bridge/Huge Bear, Vincent Arroyo, Mayacamas, PureCru, Chateau Montelena, Opus One…and of course there are many more Napa wines that we’ve tasted but not visited. Don’t let this happen to you!
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