Revisiting Napa: Made with the Drunken Cyclist in Mind

The last time I was out in Wine Country (late April), I had a bit of time after my visit to Dry Creek Valley, so I stopped for a couple tastings over on the Napa side of things. My story is not all that different from most American wine lovers, I imagine. When I first started visiting wineries in the U.S., I spent my time exclusively in the Napa Valley. For the beginner, Napa is fairly easy: there are two roads (Route 29 and the Silverado Trail) that run parallel on either side of the Valley and house some of the most famous wineries in the industry. There was really no need, at least initially, to venture that far out.

As my taste and experience began to broaden, however, we started venturing out into the geographically more challenging wild, wild west known as Sonoma County. Since venturing to the other side of the Mayacamas Mountains, we have rarely looked back (other than the occasional visit to Failla Wines to pick up some of our favorite Pinot and Chardonnay–and see my friend Kathy Berez).

After my tasting at Corison Winery, I had a bit of time to kill before heading back to the East Bay, so I decided to pull into the Clif Family Winery, on a bit of a whim. I had never tried their wine, but had enjoyed their other products for years (they make Clif Bars–one of my all time favorite bike ride snacks). I was not sure what to expect, but as soon as I walked in, I realized it was my kind of place:

I walk in and see this--are you kidding me? My kind of place!

I walk in and see this–are you kidding me? My kind of place!

The tasting bar was a bit crowded, so I spent a bit of time strolling around the room looking at all of the bike porn. There were about a dozen bikes (all too small for me or else I would have been tempted to sneak one out under my shirt) and the walls were adorned with countless professional cycling photos. So while I gave the bar a bit of time to thin out, I circled the room to see if there was a photo of my friend, a former professional racer of significant acclaim. After a bit of searching, there it was:

IMG_2486

There he is in the middle–extra credit if you guess who it is!

Deciding that I could now endorse the room as a legitimate cycling memorabilia outpost, I headed back to the bar. I only had time to taste a couple of wines, and while they were not necessarily my style, they were well made and quaffable.

IMG_43752010 Clif Family Winery Chardonnay Oak Knoll: Retail $32. Very nice. Lemony with some pineapple and peach. 50% new oak and full malolactic fermentation but not an overblown chard by any means. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2010 Clif Family Winery Climber Limited Release: Retail $35. 63% Merlot 37% Cabernet Sauvignon. Hmmm. I know people who would like this but it is a bit big for me and it needs a steak. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
As I walked by the display their more recognized products (there was a wall of Clif Bars, Bloks, and Shots, I vowed that I would make another trip back to the tasting room when I had a little more time on my hands–or perhaps on a bike ride in desperate need of some nutrition to finish my ride.
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About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Revisiting Napa: Made with the Drunken Cyclist in Mind

  1. Beth says:

    I’ve been wanting to stop there after work since it’s potentially on my way home if I take 29 instead of Silverado Trail. My friend Mike Anderson is the manager. Looks like a cool place to stop, especially during “rush hour.”

    Like

  2. Wow, a match made in heaven!

    Like

  3. I’m really liking the dry creek valley wines. Looks great, one day I will get to the West Coast again.

    Like

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