Impressions from the 2013 Wine Blogger Conference

Back from my 5th Wine Blogger Conference, held this year in Pentiction, BC, I find myself again inclined to ruminate on what I learned, saw, drank, ate, etc., while spending 4 days in a new-to-me wine region.  Simply because I am tired of repeating myself, please see, in particular, #s 4, 8, and 10 from last’s year’s retrospective on the conference.  Those items still stand for me as takeaways from this conference. And every other WBC I’ve attended.  Despite some of those complaints (and positives), I will be back to attend the 7th annual WBC in Santa Barbara next July.

1.) I no longer look like my picture. After 6 years, this is the first time not a soul made that comment to me. So either I’ve changed quite a bit (possible since I have brown curly hair now…) and I need to update my photo or I’m simply not as present on social media as I used to be. My best guess is a combination of the two. I vow to be better about both things, updating the photo and being more active on Twitter.

View from Summerhill Winery

2.) We could not have asked for a more picturesque place to hold the conference. The Okanagan Valley is simply stunning. Not to mention, the weather cooperated beautifully and the days were sunny, breezy and delightful. I stayed in two locations while in the area, Kelowna and Pentiction. While I can’t choose a favorite, each had its strengths. I’d highly recommend the Manteo Resort in Kelowna for families. I stayed in  a “villa” on the property (basically a townhouse) that had a full living area, separate full kitchen, laundry facilities, 2.5 baths, and 2 bedrooms. The resort offered water sports, pools, playgrounds, a fantastic restaurant, and proximity to many vineyards. At Penticton Lake Resort, I’d think singles or couples would find it more appealing. While still offering water sports, a pool, and proximity to vineyards, it had multiple restaurants, bars, a club, a casino, and more typical hotel style rooms. Both beautiful properties, I’d happily return to either.

3.) That said, a major bummer of the conference turned out to be the inability to bring wine home and being unable to get the wines in the States. You pretty much have to go to BC to taste and drink BC wines. I took home the legal number of bottles (without having to pay extra duty, that’s 2) so I’m pleased to have two (plus 2 others I paid duty on) of my favorites to taste with Mr. Wannabe Wino, I’m disappointed to not be able to get anything else I tasted.

Bee-keeping at Tantalus Vineyards

4.) If you make it to the area, check out Tantalus Vineyards. Hands down my favorite stop of the trip, both for the food, the wine, and the experience. I have a nifty video of the bee keeping demonstration we were treated to ready to post when I figure out how to do so. Two of the wines I brought home, I purchased at Tantalus, including an interesting sparkling brut riesling.

5.) The smaller nature of this year’s conference truly appealed to me. It reminded me more of the first 2 years of the conference. I had time to talk to people. We had many events together. It was more intimate. I made new friends this year. I fully understand the conference is a business, however, at the end of the day, it needs to remain appealing and useful to those who attend. When attendance is almost double what it was this year, that gets lost.

6.) Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Get them any way you can. Even if you have to mud wrestle an Uruguayan for them since they drink most of the wine they produce. Especially the Albariño from Bouza. Stunning wine.

7.) The conference was over-scheduled. Again, I understand that this is a money-making venture. I also understand that I am in no way obligated to attend every event. However, having scheduled events running until 11 pm every night is just too much. Some people actually want to go to bed earlier than that and may miss out on something they’d really like to attend simply by virtue of the fact that they don’t want to be exhausted for the next day of the conference. This particularly struck me on Friday, when we went on our excursion and then were bused immediately to an event over an hour from the hotel with no option to return to the hotel without attending, then had to await buses to take us back. I was wet (more on this later), exhausted, and wanted to leave, but didn’t end up being able to get on a bus home until 10:30 and didn’t arrive back to the hotel until almost midnight. The event the next morning started at 7:15. That’s not enough sleep.

8.) Since I’m recommending wines, here’s one from another region that caught my attention: the 2010 Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Franc.  If you ever get to the Niagra wine region, you should most definitely look Kacaba up. Worth it alone for the Cabernet Franc.

Brodo Kitchen’s chef makes us eggs in the park

9.) A small list of places to eat for sure if you make it to either Kelowna or Penticton: Waterfront Wines (holy cow can that man make a gourmet waffle and poach an egg), Smack Dab (the focus on local beers, with at least 15 on tap, totally won me over), Brodo Kitchen (in Penticton, no website, but they had fresh strawberry juice that rocked my socks), The Cupcake Lady Cafe (don’t be fooled by the name, the breakfast crepes were drool-worthy), The White Apron (fresh made ham and cheese croissants, think pain au chocolat but with ham and cheese), and Hooded Merganser (duck breast poutine, need I say more?).

10.) Go visit Craig Camp at Cornerstone Cellars. I know I’ve said it before, but he’s sincerely one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure of associating with, and his wines are damn good.

A Trip to the Cornerstone

Cornerstone Cellars, that is! The other part of our scheduled day with Thea in Napa was of course to visit our old friend Craig at Cornerstone Cellars. I visited Cornerstone Cellars shortly after they first opened their tasting room in Yountville, but Matt had never been there before. Thea and I had to remedy that! Several things have changed since my last visit, among them, the tasting room is no longer under construction and if you wander about a block down from the tasting room, you find a demonstration vineyard row planted by Cornerstone Cellars just hanging out on the side of the sidewalk in Yountville!

We tasted through everything Cornerstone had available at the time, though the week after our visit they were bottling all the 2010s!

2010 Sauvignon Blanc: grassy, lemon, tart, lemon pith, tropical notes, acidity, lemon grass, peach.

2009 Stepping Stone Cabernet Franc: black cherry, strawberry, raspberry, herbs, mineral streak, nice lean fruit, good acidity, peppery, slight hint of extremely dark chocolate.

2009 Stepping Stone Cabernet Sauvignon: black currants, black fruit, spice, pepper, black cherry, black raspberry, tannins on the finish.

2009 Stepping Stone Syrah: very peppery, black plum, black fruit, charred meat, bacon fat, meat, pepper, spice.

2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: big fruit, raisins, big, bold, jam, dark fruit, in your face.

2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: herbs, spice, lavender, dark chocolate, anise, nice secondary notes, black cherry, chocolate milk, juicy.

2009 The Cornerstone: (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend) spice, pepper, chocolate, espresso, herbs, cardamom, nice acidity, cherry, blackberry, black raspberry.

2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: perfumey, violets, spice, pepper, tight, red fruit, raspberry, good acidity, deeper fruit on the palate, fresh spun caramel, strawberry, orange zest, tons of potential in this wine.

I love visiting with Craig. He’s a really great guy. If you haven’t had a chance to meet him, be sure to stop by the Cornerstone Cellars tasting room. They also have a fantastic line up of wine. My top three were the 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, and the 2009 The Cornerstone. Though it was hard to pick my favorites!

A Titus Kind of Day

Continuing on my recap of our recent trip out West, we spent one of our days in Napa. We had places to go and friends to see! (Ahem, Thea.) This day was planned months in advance. We’ve had both Cornerstone and Titus wines at home many, many times, and I’ve visited both in the past, but Matt had never accompanied me. (Though Thea has been my partner in crime on each visit I’ve made previously! Sensing a pattern here?

Christophe in repose

Titus was our first stop of the day. I’ve known Christophe, Titus’ chief wine club/social media/all around bottle washer, since before the very first Wine Blogger Conference. He’s such an awesome guy that he invited all of us over to his house for dinner latter that evening!

2010 Sauvignon Blanc: green notes, pepper, lemongrass, melon, peach, very light, crisp, nice acidity.

 

2009 Merlot: pepper, spice, black fruit, violets, perfume, roses, slight coffee notes, black cherry, lean, mineral, black raspberry, spice, great acidity.

 

 

 

2009 Cabernet Franc: (took home 3 bottles) chocolate, strawberry, herbs, berry compote, rose petals, smooth, black cherry, dark strawberry, bright fruit, delicious.

2008 Cabernet Sauvginon: chocolate, coffee bean, caramel, strawberry, tobacco leaf, currants, dark, black berries, black currants.

Through the drinking glass

2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: smoky, toasty, graphite, pepper, spice, herbs, needs some age, the bones are there though, black cherry, black currants.

2007 Lot 1: dark chocolate, black raspberry, earthy, minty, dark, black fruit, pomegranate, brooding, plenty of tannins.

If you have time on your next visit to Napa, I can’t recommend a stop at Titus enough. There is nothing quite like sitting at the sun soaked picnic table outside the building on the property, adjacent to acres and acres of Titus’ vineyards. Especially if you can spend that time with fabulous people like Thea, Christophe, and my partner in crime, Mr. WannabeWino. Tasting wines in the place from which they originate is a unique experience not to be undervalued.

Fine Times at Teldeschi

Our second stop on our CA trip was Teldeschi. Or, if I’m being honest, it was our 3rd stop since we first ran by Bovolo to partake in some house cured bacon goodness. I also seem to have failed to take pictures here. I think I was just too excited for our first day of vacation to think about taking photos! We like to visit Teldeschi for a few reason, in particular because my dad really likes the Zinfandel Port made there, so we always go by in order to pick some up for him! This time Dan Teldeschi, owner and wine maker was pouring in the tasting room!

2000 Petite Sirah: dark fruit, blackberry, juicy, black currant, tannins.

2001 Terranova: Juicy, red fruit, spicy, tannins, raspberries, red currant, earth.

2002 Petite Sirah: very perfumey, spicy, blackberry, black fruit, spice, earth, chocolate, really well done. We took some home.

2004 Reserve Zinfandel: dark earth, mint, eucalyptus, very dark, spicy, black cherry.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: black current, pepper, red berries, juicy, spice, very different. Really liked this one and we took some home.

2006 Terra Luna: Banana, red fruit, smooth, juicy, blackberry, blueberry.

2005 Home Ranch Zinfandel: spicy, earthy, big fruit, blackberry, some sweetness. Too some of this home too!

Visiting David Coffaro

Time for me to get around to writing up our visits to vineyards during our April trip to Northern CA! Sadly, I didn’t remember to take my camera out much on this trip, so pictures are pretty limited. But the wines are still well worth talking about. We make it a point to swing by David Coffaro whenever we are in the area. We first encountered David Coffaro 6 years ago on our honeymoon and have been buying wine futures there ever since. Good thing we stopped by this time as they kindly reminded us we had yet to pick up our futures from 2 years ago. We got to do a bit of barrel tasting of some of the futures we bought for the 2011 vintage as well as a couple wines already in bottle.

2009 Terre Melange $30: very spicy, peppery, red fruit, cherry, raspberry, strawberry.

2009 Zinfandel $30: chocolate, pepper, blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, spice.

2009 Petite Sirah $30: very dark fruit, earth, spice, blackberry, pepper, cocoa.

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon $38: very tannic, red fruit, red currants, dark strawberry, dark berries, spice.

2009 Block 4 $38: mint, spice, black raspberry, black cherry, earth.

I didn’t take any notes on the barrel samples, but my notebook is covered with red circles as a reminder of them! Be sure to check out David Coffaro if you are in Dry Creek Valley. Buying futures from the winery has been one of the most cost effective ways I’ve stocked my cellar full of wine.

Adventures in Foreign Lands

As you may have read here on ye olde wine blog, I recently went to Portugal after winning a contest sponsored by Enoforum Wines. Enoforum Wines is an interesting company that I’ll have more to say about in a future post, but suffice it to say for the moment that they exist to produce and place Portuguese wines in foreign markets. A worthy goal for sure if what we tasted during our time in Portugal is any indication of the overall QPR of Portuguese wines. Enoforum’s purpose in bringing bloggers to Portugal is not only to expose them to the wines, but to immerse them in Portuguese culture. To that end, we played tourist for a week, seeing many of the highlights of the Lisbon area over our visit as well as playing enotourist by visiting wineries.

Since this is a wine blog after all, I’ll first tell you about one of the wineries we visited, Carmim Winery. Carmim Winery is a Coop, as are all 6 wineries from which Enoforum procures its wines. Carmim’s member farmers boast a total of 3600 hectares or approximately 9000 acres of panted vineyards. Like most of the land in the area, the vineyard land is multi-use, with sheep grazing among the vines, rows of olive trees planted among the rows of vines…etc.  600 farmers sell grapes to Carmim. I’ve previously only seen one other production that was on scale with the production at Carmim. The bottling lines at Carmim bottle between 9K to 11K bottles per hour, under 20 brand names.

Some of Carmim's many facilities

More of Carmim's many facilities

In addition to producing wine, Carmim produces olive oil. Yum. We tasted the olive oil a little later over lunch. I could have sat all day with crunchy bread and olive oil, but then you would have had to roll me home! While at Carmim, we tasted through part of the Enoforum line of wines as well as a few of the wines that Carmim produces. All of the wines from Carmim are available in the US, and Enoforum expects that its wines will be on shelves here soon. I will update you when they are as they represent some excellent QPR, with the most expensive coming in at $20, but all but a couple falling under the $15 price point, and many under the $10 price point.

Olives on the trees!

2008 Real Forte White Wine: Roupeiro, Arinto, Diagalues grapes. 13% alcohol. Expected retail: around $6.99, Tropical, start fruit, pineapple, lemon, citrus, crisp, light, slightly salty edges. (Enoforum Wines)

2007 Porto do Castello White: Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro grapes. 12.5% alcohol by volume. Expected retail: around $7.99, Light orange, citrus, flowers, lemon, slight tropical notes. Would be great with seafood. (Enoforum Wines)

Barrels!

2008 Régia Colheita Reserva: Antão Vaz. 13.5% alcohol by volume. Toasty, caramel, spice, apple, slight malo, apple flowers. Nice structure and acidity, light oak treatment. (Carmim Wines)

2008 Real Forte Red: Aragonez, Castelão, Trincadeira. 13% alcohol by volume. Expected retail around $7.99. Fruity, red berries, black cherry, tart plums, balanced, slight green notes, baking chocolate. (Enoforum Wines)

Old Amphora at Carmim

Old Amphora at Carmim

2006 Porta de Castelo Red: Trincadeira, Tinta Caiada, Touriga Nacional. 13% alcohol by volume. Expected retail around $8.99. Bright berries, raisin, mint, fig, plums, more complex, some spice, and herbs. (Enoforum Wines)

2006 Além: Syrah, Touriga Nacional. 14.5% alcohol by volume. Expected retail around $16.99. This was my favorite of the Enoforum Wines. Smoky, plums, blackberry, earth, meat, black cherry, nice finish, good structure/acidity. A steal for the price point. (Enoforum Wines)

Tasting Room

2008 Monsaraz Premium: Trincadeira. 14% alcohol by volume. Very smoky, black fruit, vanilla, bright black cherry, violets, nice finish, blackberry, cherry, some tannins, very young. Not yet released in the US. (Carmim Wines)

2003 Garrafeira Dos Sócios: Trincadiera, Cabernet Dauvignon, Tinta Caida, Alicante Bouschet. 14% alcohol by volume. Licorice, flowers, black cherry, black fruit, dark, cedar, big tannins, bitter chocolate, very dark. (Carmim Wines)

2007 Carmim Syrah: 13.5% alcohol by volume. Smoke, meat, berries, black cherry, plum, earth, mint, smooth, very nice, dark.

2007 Reguengos Reserva Red Wine: Trincadeira, Aragones, Tinta Caiada, Alicante Bouschet. Raisin, spice, plum, black berry, very very dark, tannins, black fruit, deep dark, spice, pepper.

Enoforum Wines

Quite a tasting and an introduction to Portuguese wines. I think this counts as the kick off to my goal of getting to know Portuguese wines in 2010!  Due to the rain, this was the only day we got out into the vineyards and I peppered the winemaker Rui with questions about vineyard practices and such. It seems that mechanized pruning and harvesting is the method of choice in Portugal as you can see from the photos. On average Carmim harvest 5,000 kilos/hectare, though that varies depending on what wine they are making from that vineyard.  Over the days we were in Portugal, I believe more rain fell than usually falls annually in Portugal. The rain could make for an interesting year for the vineyards, so I guess we’ll see as this year’s harvest approaches.

Tasting at Cornerstone

Want!

The final tasting of a long (though not long enough) trip to Napa and Sonoma. I am always sad to leave and often long to move, but alas, I am wed to Virginia until I decide it’s a good idea to sit for another bar. That’s sit for, not at a bar folks! Our stop at Cornerstone was long planned. On each previous visit I’d missed Craig Camp for one reason or another, but I was bound and determined to get there this time! Unbeknownst to me, word of an impending gathering spread and we were joined by Lisa, Andrew, and Amy and Joe!

Cornerstone's new winemaker

The last day was to be the day of Cabernet Sauvignon with Hall, Corison, and Cornerstone rounding out our planned tastings for the day. I was eager to see Cornerstone’s new digs after hearing Craig talk them up for some time. The new tasting room in Yountville is sleek, modern, and pretty darn cool. Pretty soon, if it isn’t already, they were going to be joined by some wine related goods stores in the same space. At Cornerstone, we met with the new wine maker who at the time was only with Cornerstone for 1 week! He had previously worked with Havens Wine Cellar for 8 years.  We tasted through barrel samples of Cornerstone’s new line, Stepping Stone, as well as the Cornerstone wines. Be on the lookout for full reviews of some of these wine in the near future!

Craig does his thing.

2007 Stepping Stone Grenache: Lake County. $20. Spicy, red fruit, banana, red berries, milk chocolate, bright red fruit, white pepper, smooth fruit.

2007 Stepping Stone Cabernet Franc: $25. Spice, dark, strawberry, earth, dirt, raspberry, pepper, tannins, chocolate, nice structure.

2008 Cornerstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Pomegranate, black cherry, anise, blackberry, floral, dried roses, espresso on the finish, coffee, tannic, milk chocolate, a baby wine!

Lisa does her thing.

2008 Cornerstone Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon: Anise, oak, herbs, black cherry, black fruit, blackberry, chewy, tannic, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, red fruit edges, coffee, brown sugar. Also a baby.

2008 Stepping Stone Sauvignon Blanc: $18. Tropical notes, grapefruit, nice round mouthfeel, orange zest, peach, crisp, clean fruit, melon.

Beautiful heirloom tomato salad.

1997 Cornerstone Howell Mountain Beatty Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon: Violets, roses, black currants, raspberry, blackberry, dried flowers, herbs, chocolate, coffee.

1992 Cornerstone Howell Mountain Beatty Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon: Funk that blows off, pepper, peppers, red fruit, raspberries, currants, tannic.

Joe got a bone marrow appetizer!

2001 Cornerstone Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon: Blackberry, pepper, perfume, chocolate, caramel, red fruit, berries, cherries, dried roses, red plums.

The last 3 were consumed over the course of a fantastic meal that included my very first oysters! All in all, I had a great time tasting through Cornerstone’s old and new wines, and I think the Stepping Stone line is going to be great. I retasted the Cabernet Franc last week, so look for that review soon!

Amy and I eat oysters!

In the Home Stretch

I fully admit that writing these posts from my last California trip has taken me five bazillion times longer than it should have. I really have no excuse other than life got in the way and I simply found it easier to write about the wines I was drinking instead of typing up tasting room visits. Not a valid excuse, but anyway, after this post I have one or two more and then that’s it…pretty much nearly in time for our annual Spring trek to the Sonoma/Napa area.

On our very last day in Napa, Thea, Ashley, and I stopped by the new tasting room that houses Cornerstone Cellars and Page Wine Cellars in Yountville. We were there to visit with our friend Craig Camp and he urged us to taste with Page while there. Though honestly, how much convincing does it take to get a lush and a wino to taste more wine? ;) Really you just have to show them wine and watch them follow it to its resting place.

Page Wine Cellars makes wine under 3 labels: Page, Le Nu, and Revolver. Founded in 1997 by Bryan Page with just one barrel of wine, Page Wine Cellars has grown to now produce 6 different wines under its 3 labels.  Production is still very small, with the biggest case release being 450 cases of the Cabernet Franc.

2008 Page Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc: $20. Blended with 5% Semmillon and made in 12.5% new oak with the rest split between stainless steel and neutral oak. Tropical, peach, little oak in the nose, some round creamy fruit, stone fruit, grass, dry, pear.

2007 Le Nu “Unoaked” Napa Valley Chardonnay: $40. Lemon, spice, white pepper, pear, green apple, stones, minerality, pear, orange, stonefruit. Both Thea and I each bought a bottle…which says a lot since I’m not a huge Chard person…and Thea’s not normally a white wine person!

2oo5 Page Cellars Proprietary Red: $50. Strawberry, plums, spice, black currants, raspberry, darker fruit in the mouth, tannins, hard black cherry candy.

2005 Revolver Purgatory Merlot: $35. Spiced plums, dark fruit, pepper, black fruit, soft.

2006 Revolver The Fury Cabernet Franc: $45. Strawberry, herbs, spice, pepper, cedar, cigar box, blue fruit, red berries.

2005 Page Cellars The Stash Cabernet Sauvignon: $100. Leather, tobacco leaf, herbs, red berries, tannins, tart raspberries.

All in all, I’m glad we tasted and I found a Chardonnay I love!

Visiting Corison Winery

IMG_2293Ages ago after I wrote a piece about the appellation St. Helena tasting I attended last year, I received an email from Cathy Corison. One of her wines was among the offerings at the media tasting that day and she offered to have me stop by her winery on my next visit to CA. Due to very conflicting schedules I missed out on visiting her on my next two CA trips, but was finally able to catch up with her on my final day in Napa after the 2009 Wine Blogger Conference.

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My friend Loweeel is a HUGE Corison fan (though he bemoans the fact that the Petite Sirah vines were removed from the property), so I’d heard much about the wines, but had only tasted the one Cabernet Sauvignon involved in the St. Helena media tasting. Thea, Ashley, & I arrived at Corison in the midst of bottling day, wow, what a busy place! And Cathy took time out of the madness to give us a tour of the facility and taste some wines with us.

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Cathy has been bottling wine under her own name for 24 years. She makes 2 Cabernet Sauvignons, a Gewurztraminer, and a little Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé for fun. Her winery sits on 8 acres of vineyards representing some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the Napa Valley at between 36-37 years old.  This is the Kronos vineyard where the extremely small lot Kronos Cabernet comes from. The grapes for the rest of her wines are sourced from various vineyards Cathy had become familiar with over her years in Northern California. Cathy held the position of winemaker at several well-known Napa wineries from pretty much the day she left college and has been in the business in area for over 30 years now.

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2006 Corazón Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley: Spice, white pepper, lime, orange blossom, lychee, citrus.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé: Strawberry, lime, currants, dry, floral, bright red fruit, bone dry.

(The really fun part…a vertical of Kronos Cab!)

1996 Kronos Cabernet Sauvignon: Amazing nose, currant, blackberry, strawberry, herbs black cherry, red cherries, plums, raspberries, gorgeous structure and acidity.

1997 Kronos Cabernet Sauvignon: Raspberry cream, chocolate spice, tarts, leather, spice, cedar, raspberries, little black fruit, blueberry, violets, rose petals.

1998 Kronos Cabernet Sauvignon: A little funk, saddle leather, raspberry, spice, cream, anise, tannic, more blackberry, darker.

My favorite of these was the 1997, but they all seemed still so young with so much life left in them. I would love to go back and taste the 1997 in another 5 years or so.

2004 Kronos Cabernet Sauvingon: Pomegranate, red fruit, cranberry, red cherry, bright red fruit, spice, red berries, cinnamon, plums, little brown sugar.

2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Mint, eucalyptus, spice, spicy berries, red fruit, cinnamon, peppermint, pepper, blueberry, more fruit forward, tannins.

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Overall, I’d highly recommend a visit to Corison. The wines are pricey, but if you have the patience and a love of Cabernet Sauvignon, they are well worth your time and dollars to lay down in your cellar. Not to mention, go meet Cathy Corison…who after being up and running around the winery all day for bottling seemed to me to possess enough energy to go run a marathon. Plus, talk about someone with a passion for what she does!

Down these fine Halls

Tasting Room Ceiling!

I must admit, I am EXTREMELY late in finishing up my last few posts from my trip in Napa after the Wine Blogger Conference.  On our last very very busy day in Napa, Thea, Ashley, and I had signed up to attend a blogger event at Hall Winery. Now, I’ve written about some of the Hall Wines in the past, you can read those posts here and here. I really enjoyed the wines and couldn’t wait to visit the winery to taste the other offerings. After an extremely restful night at the Napa Valley Marriott (which by the way, I loved, but that’s for another post) we headed out bright and early to Hall.

We arrived first and explored the tasting room and started the day with a taste of the 2008 Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Wine at 9am? Sure!

2008 Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc: Citrus, melon, tropical notes, grapefruit, white pepper, lemon, tart crisp, lemon grass, orange zest, nice structure and acidity.

The remainder of the bloggers arrived via shuttle and we were off for a tour of the winery. We climbed up on the catwalk, went into the barrel rooms….omg, SO many barrels and learned all about how Hall makes wines.  Hall Winery recently became the first Gold LEED certified winery in CA and are making progress toward achieving organic certification. I liked that most of the winery is covered in solar panels, supplying about 35% of the winery’s energy needs.

After touring the facility, we headed to the vineyards that surround the Hall home in Rutherford. The vineyard manager walked us through the wines and talked to us about owl boxes, pruning, decisions on when to pick, and pretty much anything we wanted to ask about the vineyard practices.

We settled in for a wonderful lunch, of which I will leave you with pictures, and a tasting of two more Hall wines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon: Black cherry milk chocolate, roses, perfume, black currants, spice, earth, cocoa powder, espresso notes, pepper, spice, and dark fruit.

2006 Hall Napa River Ranch Merlot: Bright plum, spice, herbs, some red berries, pepper, tannins, anise, soft plum fruit, pepper, dark chocolate, red berry edges.

Following lunch, we descended into the wine caves where we were joined by

Ambassador Hall

Ambassador Hall as we played winemaker in a blending experiment. Ambassador Hall impressed me. She was really interested in us, and seemed to have done her homework on who we were, our blogs, and our backgrounds. In a previous career, Ambassador Hall was an attorney, so she spoke at some length with Amy and me about our work, and also talked to the group about being raised in a California wine family and the work she does with charitable organizations in Napa.

 

 

Although we took our leave before the end of the blending, I came away fully impressed with Hall Winery and I hope to visit again when they have completed the restoration of the original Bergfeld building on the Winery property. Also, the art all over the winery was extremely cool…the Hall’s are avid patrons of the arts and everywhere from the caves to the tasting room you could find unique and interesting pieces!

 

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