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Small, Obscure Wineries in Napa


Jon Dubrick
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Hello Everyone,

I am opening my restaurant in the late fall and I am going to Napa the end of this month. Does anyone have any suggestions on wineries I should go see. I already have appointments at Opus and Acacia becuase I just like those. Those are larger wineries, but I want to help the little guys, and I know there are awesome little vineyards out in Napa. Menu is Progressive American. We featured the restaurant at a Vital Bridges Benefit at the Pennisula Hotel in Chicago...Was anyone there?

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Hello Everyone,

I am opening my restaurant in the late fall and I am going to Napa the end of this month.  Does anyone have any suggestions on wineries I should go see.  I already have appointments at Opus and Acacia becuase I just like those.  Those are larger wineries, but I want to help the little guys, and I know there are awesome little vineyards out in Napa.  Menu is Progressive American.  We featured the restaurant at a Vital Bridges Benefit at the Pennisula Hotel in Chicago...Was anyone there?

Jon~

Just Napa? There is so much more these days to CA wines than just Napa..................

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yeah, that's my reaction exactly. given the price of real estate (and the nature of billionaire egos), it's getting harder and harder to find small wineries in napa that aren't going for the whole $200-bottle boutique cabernet thing.

That said, one place you definitely ought to check out is Sinskey (caveat: they're friends). But they make really terrific wines still on a relatively small scale. Their '06 rose is the best yet, as delicate as a Bandol but with a lot more depth. They also make really good PN and a really elegant Merlot (I know, but mark my words, good merlot will make a comeback once that silly movie is forgotten).

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Hello Everyone,

I am opening my restaurant in the late fall and I am going to Napa the end of this month.  Does anyone have any suggestions on wineries I should go see.  I already have appointments at Opus and Acacia becuase I just like those.  Those are larger wineries, but I want to help the little guys, and I know there are awesome little vineyards out in Napa.  Menu is Progressive American.  We featured the restaurant at a Vital Bridges Benefit at the Pennisula Hotel in Chicago...Was anyone there?

Jon~

Just Napa? There is so much more these days to CA wines than just Napa..................

Well...Like what

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yeah, that's my reaction exactly. given the price of real estate (and the nature of billionaire egos), it's getting harder and harder to find small wineries in napa that aren't going for the whole $200-bottle boutique cabernet thing.

That said, one place you definitely ought to check out is Sinskey (caveat: they're friends). But they make really terrific wines still on a relatively small scale. Their '06 rose is the best yet, as delicate as a Bandol but with a lot more depth. They also make really good PN and a really elegant Merlot (I know, but mark my words, good merlot will make a comeback once that silly movie is forgotten).

Thank you Russ for the info.

Jon

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Whew. Big topic.

One of your best resources for CA wines, esp. boutiques, (IMHO) would be the lovely, gracious and talented REBEL ROSE, who has her own damned great winery here in Paso Robles/Templeton (Dover Canyon Winery). You might check out our Paso Robles Wine Tour and Dinner, for eG members, Sept. 15, even come, to see what the Central Coast has to offer.

Just a little insight to my tiny corner of the world, and there is SO much more !

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I wouldn't limit myself to Napa. There are fantastic wines coming from Sonoma that are the equal of Napa. And the wines coming from the Santa Rita Hills are in some ways superior, especially the Pinot Noirs and Syrahs.

One winery I'd recommend you contact is Stefania Winery. They are producing some wonderful Cabernets and Syrah and just started producing a great Chard.

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I had a glass of Skewis Reserve; Floodgate Vineyard at The French Laundry and thought is was the most delicious Cali Pinot ever made. Not cheap, but at $45/bottle retail, not absurdly priced, either. Might be worth a shot.

(oops -- turns out they're not in Napa. Still worth a look, though.)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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And what for after dinner?

How about one of the remarkable ports from Prager Port Works, a small, family-owned winery.

I love that place, and never fail to visit when I'm in Napa.

You really should lay in a few bottles to offer a cheese and port option.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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This Sebastopol girl needs to speak up for Sonoma County.....we have many many boutique wineries doing some great stuff. Here are just a few

Hobo Cab

Sebastopol Vineyards Syrah

Dutton Estates Syrah and Pinot

Lutea Pinot

Hannah Bismark Ranch

Sheldon does a great rose

Hook and Ladder

Christie has a really tropical chard that I find very interesting

Iron Horse

Balletto

there are more. Please do not limit yourself and your patrons to Napa.

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Thanks for the plug, Kathy!

Jon, if you are set on buying only Napa wines, I am sure there are NoCal residents here who can make good suggestions for their region.

However, I'd like to point out that the major wine critics are beginning to pan Napa as the go-to source of fine wine. This week wine critic Robert Parker had this to say about Napa . . .

Napa has an ocean of over-oaked,under-fruited,overly manipulated industrial wines at boutique price points....as profound as the finest wines of Napa can be ,that address is like a permit to produce mediocre wines(mostly Bordeaux varietals) at deplorable price points....

And they have a lot of good things to say about Paso Robles and the Central Coast.

If your menu is "progressive American", then don't you want to have a "progressive American" wine list? In California, it's considered old news to be Napacentric . . . so in addition to Napa you should also have some of the following wines on your list!

Santa Rita Hills/Central Coast pinot noirs

Arcadian

Loring

Jack Creek

Paso Robles Rhones

Tablas Creek (Owned by the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel in Ch.du Pape

Jacob Toft

Paso Robles Zinfandel and Cabs

Linne Calodo

L'Aventure

Napa/Sonoma hot small producers

Rivers Marie

Dry Stack Cellars

August West

Kosta Browne

And to be truly progressive American, you'll want some Oregon pinot noir, Washington cab and syrah, and some Finger Lakes wines . . . perhaps it's time to kick up some "best of the best" threads for these regions . . .

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Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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Here are some wineries we have on radar for our November Napa trip:

Lamborn

Seavey

Clark-Claudon Vineyards

Ghost Block

Esca Wines

Egelhoff

Pina

Phelan Vineyards

Viader

Neal

El Molino

Flowers

Abiouness

Buccella

Kamen

Lail

Seavey

Keever

Maybach

Meander

Coup de Foudre

Bridesmaid Winery

Carver Sutro

Outpost

Obviously we'll probably only make it in to visit 8 - 10 of these with others thrown in for good measure (still love Paraduxx & Sinskey as mentioned earlier).

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Here are some wineries we have on radar for our November Napa trip:

Lamborn

Seavey

Clark-Claudon Vineyards

Ghost Block

Esca Wines

Egelhoff

Pina

Phelan Vineyards

Viader

Neal

El Molino

Flowers

Abiouness

Buccella

Kamen

Lail

Seavey

Keever

Maybach

Meander

Coup de Foudre

Bridesmaid Winery

Carver Sutro

Outpost

Obviously we'll probably only make it in to visit 8 - 10 of these with others thrown in for good measure (still love Paraduxx & Sinskey as mentioned earlier).

Prager?

I repeat.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Everyone,

Thank you so much for all the info on Napa. I am not restricting to just Napa, but since I am out there why not check it out. This could be a huge question, but I would like to feature wines from the great US of A this season and next and possibly go across the ocean next year or there after. So any really cool, cutting edge wine guys you can think of that need help moving wine, please let me know.

I am not looking to be a michelin rated wine list, but I want to offer wines that are unique enough to go with our really cool menu. We did a benefit this past week in Chicago and can you believe our new restaurant was called "The New Alinea" I appreciate the compliment but my styles are very different, but I do have the passion and staff to back me up, so its going to be a blast. Keep looking for updates or shot me any questions. Anyway back to the wines. I look forward to your ideas and places to check out.

Later

Jon

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Are there any small and obscure wineries in Napa? Better yet, are they going to do you a deal? I think not.

Best,

Mike

Therein lies a question of distributorship -- most establishments are limited to the distributor from whom they are purchasing and what is in "their book." While you might find a winery that you like, you need to find out if they are even distributed in your state and that is done by contacting your local distributors.

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I may well be going over old ground, or revealing myself to be way out of my depth, but I ate in Veritas in NYC last November, and had a wine from Larry Ellison's nephew's vineyard. I can't remember what it's called, but it was very impressive. I'm sure you could find out what it's called, it's not a big secret he set him up.

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Gundlach-Bundschu.

Incroyable.

I can second this. A visit to Gundlach is what got me into wine. It was our first trip to the area and we stopped here first at 10:30am or so. We were the first people in the door and a 24 year old studying to be a winemaker was working the counter. We started talking and asking questions about wine (we knew very little) and he seemed to enjoy helping us along. He asked us if we've ever decanted wine before, we answered no. He proceeded to uncork a fresh bottle of zin and throw it in a decanter. He spent the next hour or so swirling, pouring tastes, explaining what to look for. It was a very enjoyable experience. It really opened our eyes to how wine can change.

I was a bit worried how much it was going to cost (a flight was supposed to be 8 bucks or something) but he ended up doing the whole thing for free. He said, "You have to get something for being the first one here."

I can't help but think pleasant thoughts about that winery.

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I may well be going over old ground, or revealing myself to be way out of my depth, but I ate in Veritas in NYC last November, and had a wine from Larry Ellison's nephew's vineyard. I can't remember what it's called, but it was very impressive. I'm sure you could find out what it's called, it's not a big secret he set him up.

You may have had one of Miner Family Vineyard's wines. Miner is run by Dave and Emily Miner. Dave's uncle was the late Bob Miner. Bob and Larry started the company that eventually became Oracle, and I believe Dave worked there for some time as well. Miner now produces a wine called Oracle among others.

Edited by vengroff (log)

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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