On our recent trip to northern Sonoma we were graciously hosted by VML Winery . We arrived on a sunny 65 degree Saturday to a winery boasting beautiful gardens, decks that begged you to take a seat and enjoy a glass of wine, live music in the tasting room and barbeque. This Texas girl was already happy. I understand that there is barbeque and live music every Saturday creating a relaxed almost party atmosphere.
Earlier this summer Donna and I had the opportunity to spend a morning with winemaker Cathy Corison of Corison Winery. Cathy’s looks can be deceiving. She’s tiny, barley five feet tall, but exudes a modest confidence that raises her stature another foot.
We met Cathy a couple of months earlier at the CIA in St. Helena during her seminar for a bunch of wine writers on the attributes of great Cabernets. There is no question she knows her stuff in spades and is an excellent educator, in addition to being a superb winemaker.
Cathy Corison is a pioneer, entering the realm of winemaking at a time when few women were seen in the cellar. Obviously the 1970’s were a different time for women in male dominated workplaces but this petite powerhouse made it work. As you will see, even after a winemaker hired Cathy for her first crush/harvest she was fired by the winery owner before the job even started. She was too small and not tough enough for the physical rigors of the cellar, he believed. Persistent, that same winery hired Cathy back the next year.
Corison Winery is truly a family winery located on Hwy 29 near St. Helena. It is old Napa Valley, small and quaint. The tasting room, located in the winery’s barrel room, is open daily. Corison offers a personal experience that stands in striking contrast to the glitz and glamour, hustle and bustle of so many Napa wineries.
The Cabernet Sauvignon created by Corison Winery is aptly described as “power and elegance.” The same holds true for Cathy Corison herself. Please join us at our tasting in the top floor of the barn at Corison Winery overlooking the 40 year old Kronos cabernet vineyard.
Over the past year, this wine blog has made numerous trips to Napa Valley and Sonoma. My son finished his winery internship at Rombauer Vineyards (Napa Valley) and needed to drive his pickup to Austin, TX so he could work crush and harvest with his friends at Solaro Estate Winery (Dripping Springs, TX). What could be better than winemaking in 100+ heat?
The 24 hour drive across the desert southwest is long and boring, so I generously offered (note sarcasm) to fly out to CA and drive back with him. The catch, you ask. Well, we just had to spend a couple of days exploring and of course drinking wine, in Paso Robles wine country. Neither of us had been to Paso so we weren’t sure what to expect. In the end we met some great people and innovative winemakers, had creative and delectable meals and best of all, drank some excellent wines. We will definitely be back for another visit.
“Follow the money,” a quote from All the President’s Men where Deep Throat advised Bob Woodward that the key to understanding the Watergate mystery was the money. In the case of HR 1161 “The Care Bill” or what should be called the “Wholesaler Protection Act” which seeks to limit or stop direct sales of wine to you from wineries and wine clubs, one only needs to “follow the money.” X
Direct shipment is a critical part of the business plan for many small, family and artisanal wineries. Small wineries can not compete with large wineries for shelf space in your local wine shop. Direct shipments to happy customers and wine clubs are their best avenue for survival.
The drive from Calistoga to Volker Eisele Family Estate in Chiles Valley (a sub-ava of Napa Valley ava) is a 30 minute climb along a scenic winding two-lane road. As I drove I wondered why anyone would choose to grow grapes in this upper valley. I later learned that Francis Sievers founded Lomita Vineyards in 1870 on the same plot where Volker Eisele planted his predominately Cabernet vineyards a hundred years later. I was greeted at the old Lomita winery building, which now serves as the offices and a museum of sorts, by Volker Eisele himself. His German accent is still pronounced, giving the whole experience an old world feel. Being something of a Napa history buff, I was excited to meet this iconic pioneer vintner. Volker Eisele is featured prominently in the historical book, Napa: The Story of an American Eden by James Conaway.