I don’t make it to Napa all that much anymore. There was a time that I would come up to the U.S.’s premier wine region nearly every weekend, but not quite two decades ago (about the time, coincidentally, I started dating my wife), I switched, and started visiting Sonoma.
Well, Napa had grown so much, had become less about the wine, the people, the process, and mostly about the money. At least that is the way it seemed to me. I had also become a Pinot-phile and Sonoma was much more the place to be for my favorite variety.
In the last couple of years, though, I have been inching my way back to Napa Valley. I visited Ehlers Estate, Hourglass Vineyards, and Crocker and Starr. And then there was one of my absolute favorites, Faith Armstrong of Onward Wines.
This time, though, I was invited to the Inaugural Wine Writers Educational Tour by Fred Swan, whom I would like to consider a friend. It was three days of an intense and in depth dive into this country’s most famed wine region.
The trip started, appropriately, with a toast and a taste of ZD’s first Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine.
The first visit was to Artesa Winery in Carneros for a little rosé in the vineyard.
Then it was on to Charles Krug Winery, Napa’s oldest Estate…
…where we tasted some of Napa’s legendary wines, matched with their current releases.
Of course, Napa means Cabernet to most people, and there was plenty fantastic Cab based wines to taste.
The other C.I.A., as seen from Charles Krug.
Of course, Napa is not only Cabernet, and we tasted numerous other varieties, including Sauvignon Blanc.
Monday night was a beautiful dinner at William Hill Estate.
With so much wine flowing, it is easy to overlook how beautiful the Valley is, and the property at Stags’ Leap Winery is stunning.
Tuesday morning brought us more fabulous Cabernet, these from the different mountain appellations of the Valley.
I did manage to get a bit of cycling in, thanks to the great people at Mike’s Bikes in the Bay Area.
Tuesday evening started with another fabulous tasting at Crocker and Starr with Pam Starr, Russel Bevan, Graeme and Alex MacDonald.
Wednesday morning, we headed up to the Dr. Crane and Las Piedras vineyards.
Where we tasted Stewart Cabernet with Andy Beckstoffer.
Finally, it was off to Frank Family Vineyards for a vertical tasting of Winston Hill Cabernet to celebrate the winery’s 25th Anniversary.
Then up to the family’s Winston Hill property for gorgeous views and paella.
I got to spend a bit of time with Rich Frank, Andrea Robinson…
…and of course Chris Sawyer.