Wine & Travel

Snooth User: bnels210

Favorite Napa Wineries & Vineyards

Posted by bnels210, Jun 28, 2011.

What are everyones top 5 favorite Napa Valley wineries & vineyards and why?

Mine are (not in this order):

1) Pride Mountain Vineyards

2) Miner Family

3) Palmaz

4) Hill Family

5) Elyse Winery

Honorable Mention: Cade, Somerston

Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 28, 2011.

There are just so many wineries to choose from, I have a feeling that some of my favorites I haven't yet seen. 

Visited Pride last time I was up and it was ok. Almost reminded me of a fraternity/ sorority vibe in there, but they have some pretty good wine and tremendous views.  Hope to try their Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc.

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Reply by mbugbee, Jun 29, 2011.

Agree with Jon, as I haven't gotten to visit many of my favorites just yet (INPO):

Hess (family connections - tasting room like a castle and a great art gallery), Chateau Montelena, Caymus (always wet and full of cherry, cassis and vanilla), Praeger Port Works (great Napa-based port with a tasting room out of a barnhouse kitchen that's covered in world currencies!), and Alpha Omega (good wine and great hosts).

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 29, 2011.

Thanks Mbug, thought Caymus came back with a good vintage in 08' and look forward to trying the special select.  Also enjoyed their 06'

First good review of Alpha Omega i've heard...

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Reply by mbugbee, Jun 29, 2011.

I tried the '08 special select at Wally's a few weeks back and it was great.  It just got a big score from Suckling - 98!  You can find it for $100 at a bunch of places through wine-searcher.com.

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 30, 2011.

So, something must be up here with the board.  I don't see any new posts since my last one 13 hours ago, yet I did get a reply notification from you mbugbee a few hours ago, stating...

"I tried the '08 special select at Wally's a few weeks back and it was great.  It just got a big score from Suckling - 98!  You can find it for $100 at a bunch of places through wine-searcher.com."

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 30, 2011.

As it turns out, I did manage convince a friend to go in with me on a bottle of Caymus Special Select 08' tonight. 

Very good, and on par with an 07' Anderson's Conn Reserve Cabernet I had a short while ago. The Caymus was maybe a little more classical in style and a bit more elegant and refined.  I would not say it was anything above a 95, more like a 93-95 point range.  Didn't get enough impact on the nose, attack on the palate, and especially not the kind of finish to be anything near 98 points.  CT scores look to be right on IMO with a slew of 94's.

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jun 30, 2011.

Had a 97 Caymus late last year - excellent wine

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Reply by JonDerry, Jun 30, 2011.

SH - Sounds like a treat, the style must have been totally different in the 90's.

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Reply by EMark, Jun 30, 2011.

Favorite Napa Wineries:

Keenan--Off the beaten path (off Spring Mountain Road downslope from Pride).  Rustic tasting room with a terrific view of the valley.  Very good wines priced very reasonably.

Vincent Arroyo--Mostly because Vincent Arroyo is an iconoclast.  However, the wines are good, and, again, reasonably priced.  The place for Petite Sirah.  The only winery I've visited where I was offered a barrel tasting.  They also bottle and sell their own olive oil.

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Reply by clifhenry, Jul 12, 2011.

Rather spend time in Sonoma for a lot of reasons, but in Napa I always enjoy Honig (superb SB each and every year, and good folks), Mayacamas (incredible location, great CS, nice Chardonnay, wish they still made Zin on a regular basis), Trefethen (good people and superb CS that you can actually afford to drink), Cliff Lede (excellent CS and SB year in and year out, regardless of general vintage quality, and love the gallery), and Terra Valentine (again, great CS, especially the Wuertele Vineyard wines), great location on the site of the old Yverdon winery, and fine people.

Getting to the point, though, that during harvest you might as well stay home; Napa turns into Disneyland for a couple of weeks, and getting from place to place can be a risky undertaking. The roads used to be well-patrolled by both state and local police, but it appears that either a) they've given up, or b) the budget cutbacks have reduced manpower to the point that they're spread too thin. Bicyclists are taking their lives in their hands on some of the major routes, especially Silverado Trail.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 12, 2011.

Funny, for a long time, I felt safer on Silverado on my bicycle.

clifhenry: mentioning Yverdon takes me back.  I remember being with my parents at the second ever Trader Joe's store, before it was the private label house it is now and was a rack jobber for wine, cheese, and gourmet food, and buying Yverdon cab. 

And as I have said many times, I prefer DCV and environs to Napa because of the craziness. 

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Reply by clifhenry, Jul 13, 2011.

Yes, Fox, Napa has gotten really showbiz over the last 10 years or so; too bad. I can rmember the first time I visited the valley, probably in 75 or 76; driving into Saint Helena was like driving into Mayberry, and most of the people you met were like Sheriff Taylor, Floyd, and Aunt Bea. Just good old country folks who were still uncomfortable with the idea that people outside the county really were willing to pay $10 for a bottle of their wine. The day we went to Lous Martini, he (Louis Sr,) was working alongside everybody else in the winery (what I think began life as a barn), and he probably spent an hour with my wife and me talking about his land and wines. I thinki he was wearing old overalls and rubber boots. Pretty cool stuff for a Texas boy.

DCV and the surrounding countryside is still that way to a degree; however, we're spending more and more time in Mendocino as we get older, where life still has a lot of that "good ol' days" feel.

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 13, 2011.

CH, you have all that right, although I think that Napa started going south much longer ago than 10 years.  I like DCV because you can run into family members (yep, still family run) pretty much everywhere. Mauritson, Teldeschi, Talty (and their tenant McLaren), the Prestons, the Untis (who send us a Christmas card because we bought one of Linda's paintings!), it's just much more low key.  There are a few big corporate places, or places owned by hedge fund managers on second careers, but mostly folks who bought land a while ago, or whose families owned it and ranched/farmed it forever, like Mauritson. 

Mendocino: I used to spend a lot of time up that way, but getting there can be a drag with the weekend traffic from SF.  I'd love to go tasting and traipsing there soon, now that the options have expanded.  Toulouse, Elke, a bunch of others have been producing PN worth a trip lately.  Add the stalwarts at Husch, Navarro, and you have a real scene without the "scene."

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Reply by dmcker, Jul 13, 2011.

It accelerated to a new level this past 10 years (hey, if Kuleto's making restaurants there...), but I first noticed untoward trends from the end of the '80s, ramping up through the '90s.

Napa in the early '80s (and before even more so) was a much slower, friendlier, accessible (like what you mention about DCV now, Fox, but even more so) place. The first time I encountered any snootiness was with the front-of-the-winery staff at Schramsberg mid-'80s (after Reagan put them on the White House state dinner winelist) but that was later seen to be a personality issue. Mondavi's battleship got glossier and stiffer as time went on but even it was friendly and easy and repeatably interesting early on, when they were doing a lot of jazz concerts, etc.

In American business, whatever the context, success seems to bring a lot of warts with it...

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Reply by JonDerry, Jul 13, 2011.

Well said, D...

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Reply by clifhenry, Jul 13, 2011.

Sounds as though we're all on the same page here. At any rate, we just don't have a lot of fun in Napa any more, although Calistoga is still an enjoyable place to be most of the time.

As for DCV/Sonoma, etc., when you get right down to it, almost everywhere north of Santa Rosa is still pretty nice to hang out. We love Healdsburg, even though it's beginning to get a little ahead of itself, too, and spend a lot of time there each fall; the Foppianos have been family friends for 30 or so years, so we try to see them every time we're anywhere close by if possible. And speaking of them, they're a prime example of what you wrote earlier, Fox, regarding the old families who are still on land that they've owned and worked for generations.

Have a good day, all.

 


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