Tag Archive 'napa winery'

PureCru Mitch Cosentino

“I had been reminiscing about a small, hands-on entity where I could do it all myself again, like I did in the beginning.” Mitch Cosentino

Hands-on winemakers making small amounts of lovingly-crafted premium wine can be found all over the world.  Some stay small while others grow into big wineries while retaining a personal touch.  Mitch Cosentino has come full-circle. He started making his own wine in 1980 in Modesto; he then grew a 30,000+ case winery in Yountville/Oakville, bringing substantial attention to that part of Napa Valley at that time. Cosentino Winery is now owned by Vintage Wine Estates and Mitch is back to making small lots of “winemaker’s wine.”

I really like Mitch’s new PureCru wines.  They are well-priced, well-made and I have succumbed to the cool factor of his label.  I would bring this wine as a gift or to a party in a heartbeat.

PureCru wines are very approachable and food friendly with enough interest to hold the attention of connoisseurs.  The 2010 Giovanni Vineyards Pinot Noir ($32) is from Carneros.  I am pleased that it doesn’t have under-ripe green bell-pepper or cow-patty flavors that often plague Carneros wines. (I always say wine from Carneros is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re going to get. Nod to Forrest Gump.)  I highly recommend PureCru’s Pinot Noir and everyone knows I’m a (picky) Pinot lover.

I also recommend PureCoz Red Blend 2007 ($65).  Cosentino’s famous for his red blends and this one does not disappoint.  Aged 36 months in French Oak, PureCoz is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sangiovese. I can not say it better than what Mitch wrote on the label, designed for the fine cuisine of the world.  It’s a beautiful wine and a real conversation starter.

For white wine lovers, I recommend the 2009 Purety blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion ($25).  Intriguing and pleasant (with no malolactic fermentation).

Since they are made in such small qualities, this is the Wine Club you want to join. For a pittance compared to other Napa wine clubs, you get well-priced premium fruit made in small lots by a famous winemaker.


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Sciandri Family WInery

Sciandri Family WInery

Most people who visit Napa never pass through it, or even know it exists. Yet, for anyone who has cherished the renowned quality of Napa Valley wines or has fallen in love with the epicurean delights of Wine Country living, Coombsville is an absolute must-see destination. (Coombsville Vintners & Growers)

The Coombsville appellation, tucked away behind Napa (city), is one of my favorite insider places to visit. It feels like it’s a world away from urban Napa but it’s super close. It’s old world Napa, the wineries are surrounded by rolling hills, trees and horse pastures. While the atmosphere is much more intimate than Yountville and St Helena (up-valley), the wines are of equal quality and often a better value.

Don’t forget you can stay overnight in Napa on a whim.  Here are some of my favorite unique and intimate wine tasting experiences:

Sciandri Family Vineyards. (Pronounced She-an-dree) Located behind the city of Napa (northeast edge of the valley), you wind through Wild Horse Valley and park in front of the Sciandri’s house and tasting room. The vibe at Sciandri is relaxed and welcoming; their daughter tells a fascinating story of how the family starting making wine just a few years ago, how her hard working parents came to rebuild an old house and pursue a dream that would ensure that their family stayed close.  Call for an appointment to sip their Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice plate of Italian Salumi while pretending you live there for an afternoon at least. (Every appointment is a private tour and tasting, and groups from 2 -12 people are welcome.)

Black Cat Vineyard.  This must be the smallest winery in Napa. One woman does it all, and I mean everything.  When you visit Black Cat Winery, leave the cell phone, camera and video recorder in the car. Be in the moment and soak up Tracey Reichow’s massively intelligent and fascinating wine knowledge.  The view is outstanding, but her explanation about the Coombsville region being “wine mecca” makes it unforgettable. I love her Syrah & Cabernert Sauvignon; gently & lovingly crafted, a beautiful alternative to in-your-face big, bold “Napa” reds.

Marita’s Vineyard.  This winery’s for serious wine collectors, aficionados and groups who want to enjoy an intimate food and wine experience. Here’s my post about this amazing family and their seriously stunning wine.

Tournesol. This beautiful property is all about gracious hospitality and fine wine.  They make two wines, a red blend and a Napa-style Cabernet Sauvignon. Insider tip: Ask about their spectacular guest accommodations.

To plan your tasting day or weekend, go to the official site for a list of wineries.

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Wine Train

Courtesy of NV Train

Courtesy of NV Train

Trains remind me of old Western movies. Women traveling in bodiced gowns with flourishy feather hats anticipating romance, adventure and sometimes danger (bandanna-masked robbers).  The Napa Valley Wine Train (turning 20 this year) sits on tracks with a wonderful history.

Today’s Wine Train Experience is focused on food, wine and hospitality.  There are a lot of choices (lunch, dinners, winery tour stops, murder mysteries, etc.)  It’s a wonderful experience for a special occasion, an opportunity to let someone else do the driving (save gas), and be pampered with VIP winery tours.

Added bonus, some of the best gift shops in the valley are at the station. (Tip: Shop before you go and pick up the items upon return.  You’ll be slightly worn out after all the food and wine tasting.)

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Drink Wine & Be Happy

“I am the Lord of these Vines.  I make wine and everybody has a happy heart.”

Inscription above the fireplace at Castello di Amorosa based on a poem written in the 14th Century, loosely translated.

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