Another Bicycling and Sipping Tour-Napa county

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Another Bicycling and Sipping Tour-Napa county

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:09 pm

It was a beautiful day in Northern California on Sunday, so I schlepped my bike up to Saint Helena and went on a tour.

Rancho de las Flores. A tiny little hobby winery hidden away on Silverado Trail. Run by a sleepy aging hippy with a happy smile. But, you know, for $20 (for a Napa Cab at that), it wasn't bad at all. Very thin, without a great deal of depth, but his Cab still had that kind of very dry. earthy, acerbic character I like. An amusing place in the era of megawineries and highly-toned marketing campaigns.

Frank FamilyWineries. What a contrast. Big bucks. Approaching cult wine status. Fantastic cut stone hisotric winery building. Glitzy Larkmead Lane location. Still a little funky-the tasting occurred in an older (but not "historic" older) building split into confusing rooms and hallways. I tried their Zinfandel, which was good (but I was on the prowl for Cabs!). The Estate Cab and the more plebian Napa Valley Cab were both excellent, intense, dark color with a very earthy, leathery character. Mostly Rutherford fruit from the original family vineyards further south in the valley. Knowledgeable, engaing tasting room host-maybe a family member??? My Visa balance did not appreciate the stop.

After leaving Silverado Trail and Larkmead Lane, I saw the sign for Diamond Mountain Road. Despite the fact that I was flat on my back three days earlier with a nasty virus, I had to try this road. What a steep, shady, beautiful climb. I chickened out about a mile from the top, but I discoverd Von Strasser Winery. Cool Laborador Retrievers!

Very nice offering of Mountain Cabs and blends. I really really enjoyed the Estate Cab. More fruit than the austere Frank Family version (which was older by two years) but still incredibly balanced and interesting-this was not a fruit bomb by any means, with the a very nice, dark, earthy structured tannins that made the wine a must buy (My aching Visa). Nice folks, well worth the drive up the hidden mountain road.

After stopping in Calistoga for one of the County's best Iced Mochas, I headed back to Silverado Trail. One more forgettable winery (August Briggs)-very nice folks, nice place, no tasting fee, but I really didn't like their style of wine very much. They did have a very nice Pinot.
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Re: Another Bicycling and Sipping Tour-Napa county

Postby Bob Ross » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:11 pm

Thanks, Brian. Sounds like a nice day -- sure was imagining it from the east coast. Regards, Bob
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Re: Another Bicycling and Sipping Tour-Napa county

Postby Gary Barlettano » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:31 pm

Brian K Miller wrote:[Frank FamilyWineries. What a contrast. Big bucks. Approaching cult wine status. Fantastic cut stone hisotric winery building. Glitzy Larkmead Lane location. Still a little funky-the tasting occurred in an older (but not "historic" older) building split into confusing rooms and hallways. I tried their Zinfandel, which was good (but I was on the prowl for Cabs!). The Estate Cab and the more plebian Napa Valley Cab were both excellent, intense, dark color with a very earthy, leathery character. Mostly Rutherford fruit from the original family vineyards further south in the valley. Knowledgeable, engaing tasting room host-maybe a family member??? My Visa balance did not appreciate the stop.


Seems like we travel in the same circles. I enjoy taking guests to the Frank Family Vineyards simply because it is a little different experience and to taste their "Rouge." It's also one of the few complimentary tastings available in Napa. Or did that change? (I was there about six weeks ago.) Usually they split the tastings up into two parts, i.e. sparkling in one room and still wines in the other. One of the fellows who pours in the still section is rather, let's say, "outgoing," but can be entertaining if you're not too sensitive or PC. Next time you're rolling about that neck of the woods, you might want to go to the Silverado Trail end of Larkmead and stroll into Saviez Vineyards which is on the east side of the trail. Alternately, peddle westward on Larkmead, hang a left onto 29 and head on down to Ballentine. During crush they give a real bang-up facility tour.
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Re: Another Bicycling and Sipping Tour-Napa county

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:16 pm

I've been doing a lot of cycling in Napa County this summer. Actually saw the sign for Ballantine. Saviez needs an appointment, but I'm sure a telephone call the day before would do.

Another winery in this area I really, really liked was Venge, on Crystal Springs east of Silverado. They have another classic ghost winery dug into the hillsides, and they split the tasting experience up-you start in the main visitor center, then they bring you back into the caves. Excellent experience, very engaing, and I quite enjoyed the Sangiovese (one of the few Californian's I've liked). They also had a veyr tasty white blend. A nice find!
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
Brian K Miller
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Re: Another Bicycling and Sipping Tour-Napa county

Postby Gary Barlettano » Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:37 pm

Brian K Miller wrote: Excellent experience, very engaing, and I quite enjoyed the Sangiovese (one of the few Californian's I've liked). They also had a veyr tasty white blend. A nice find!


Ever try the Sangiovese from Benessere?
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Re: Another Bicycling and Sipping Tour-Napa county

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Sep 11, 2006 3:34 pm

I will look for it. I do enjoy Sangiovese!
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
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