Writing for Bacchus and Beery Wine Blog, we’ve visited more than our share of wineries. During these stops we’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that will help you plan the perfect wine country vacation.
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.
A couple of years ago some Napa winemaker friends suggested we visit Alpha Omega Winery on Hwy 29 near St. Helena in Napa Valley. The tasting room is sleek and modern but more importantly the wines were phenomenal. On that trip we had the pleasure of meeting their winemaker Jean Hoefliger and were captivated by his passion and energy. Since then we have visited A/O and Jean many times.
Jean is a big broad-shouldered guy who wears his zeal on his sleeve. He speaks of wine as emotion and art intended to create a “deeply moving reaction, good or bad”. As you will see, Jean’s winemaking style and philosophy is unique and is considered “high risk.” Long natural barrel fermentation, often leaving his red wines on skins for up to 90 days, is his trademark technique which creates wines that are delicious, intriguing and complex.
Pull up a chair and a glass of wine. Join Jean and myself as we explore his fascinating and passionate approach to his “art.”
I thought it might be interesting, if not self-indulgent, to share some personal experiences, insights and emotions over the next few posts. We’re friends, right? That’s what friends do…we share…among other things. In addition, writing in this context gives you a peek, assuming you want a peek, into a week of wine blogging travel and first impressions of winery visits.
Spring is upon us and nature has provided another excuse to spend a day or a weekend in Wine Country. Napa Valley is so beautiful in the spring and summer that often we’d rather taste outdoors immersed in the vineyards and terrior while we enjoy a glass or two from the winery. There are any number of wineries offering outdoor wine tasting or drinking opportunities so I thought I’d share with a few of our favorites, V. Sattui, Mumm Napa and Alpha Omega Winery. So sit back and imagine an 85 degree cloudless day in Napa Valley and we’ll head out to spend a leisurely afternoon at three of our favorite spots.