Ah, the dawn of day two in Napa Valley. Ok not exactly the dawn but it was still morning and the tasting rooms were only just about to open.
First stop this morning was to be the Orin Swift tasting room in St Helena. A cool little shop front on the main street. We arrived and the tasting room was already busy with happy tasters. The wines were worth the wait. Orin Swift wines have a bit of a cult status. They are quality wines that get your attention throughout the entire range validating that cult status. We enjoyed the atmosphere and the experience as well as the wines. A cool place to stop, and all around there are places to eat and shop. So if you can, stop on in and tell em we sent you. Cheers.
Heading south we pulled into Hall winery. Have enjoyed a number of Hall Cabernets over the years and was looking forward to getting stuck into a full on tasting. Pulling in the entrance one is reminded of Donny Darko by the enormous shiny metal rabbit sculpture (maybe its just me) and then the diametrically opposed building styles.
Both very beautiful but oh so different. Where a lot of wineries build new facilities to look like the old stone buildings of the past not here at Hall. The Halls acquired the historic Bergfeld winery in 2003 and with it the beautiful old building. This building was finished being renovated in 2013. In 2009, HALL became the first winery in California to be distinguished as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certified fully-sustainable production facility by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Green Building Rating System. Since then, they have also received another prestigious award of LEED® Gold Certification for modern Tasting Room & high-tech Production Facility. Check out the photos to see the contrasting beauty of this engaging complex.
We enjoyed our tasting of the range of Hall wines in the modern facility with floor to ceiling glass window walls overlooking the members area, the vineyards and the hills in the distance. The tasting started with a bonus (read extra) pour of the 2015 HALL Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. So we were not really prepared to be drinking a Sav Blanc in Napa. Nor were we prepared to actually really enjoy it, but enjoy it we did. We tasted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and through the range of amazing Cabernets that have such a solid history of awards and accolades. Exceptional wines in an amazing space and great experience led to the joining of the wine club. An extreme rarity for us but one I could not resist. Looking forward to spending a lot more time here and exploring the past and the future of Hall Wines. Look for some future Hall winery adventures from the inside!
From Hall we continued south to picturesque Peju Province Winery. This was a Thursday and we had a 30 minute wait for a tasting. Again we wished we had booked ahead. As we enjoyed a look around we were given a nice glass of bubbles to help keep us happy, a nice touch. When we were called we headed upstairs with three other couples to enjoy our tasting overlooking a barrel room. We had chosen the Classic Tasting at $35 each. With that we tasted the Sauvignon Blanc and Provence before moving on to three additional wines of our choosing off the list.
The Provence is intended to be a fun and versatile wine although we were told it takes quite a bit of finesse to yield the final blend. Slightly more than half of this proprietary blend is comprised of white varietals with the balance of the profile determined by the addition of barrel aged red wine. A very interesting wine and one of two bottles purchased. The other a straight up Cabernet. I mean after all this is Napa. A very nice facility and an enjoyable tasting experience other than the thirty minute wait. So the moral of the story is to plan ahead and book and enjoy a relaxed tasting experience.
With that we were heading back to Monterey for the New Years weekend. Summing up this spur of the moment cheeky tasting trip to the Napa Valley. Lovely! We had a very nice time and enjoyed some beautiful wines in some amazing places. It reminded us that we need to come back more often and that in the future, as much as the spontaneous trip was amazing we probably need to also plan ahead if we want to taste at a lot of the places up here.
The problem with all this booking ahead and having to plan, is that it puts pressure on you to make sure you hit your times correctly and to pay attention to the geographic locations of where you want to go. It can easily take 45 minutes to go from one part of Napa Valley to another. Mix in a lunch with somewhat unpredictable time lengths and all of a sudden the carefree day of tasting turns into a stressful job of planning and time management that require you to account for delays with traffic, herding cats and any number of other issues. So plan ahead and give yourself time to enjoy the experience.
Happy Wine Adventures,