Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Napa sparkling houses - worth a visit?


jklon1
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm showing some first-timers around Napa and thought it would be nice to start out tasting some sparklers.

I've never been to one of the wineries that pour sparkling in Napa. Are any worth a visit? I've heard the cave tour at Schramsberg is nice but that might be too far north for the first stop of the day. How is Domaine Carneros?

Or do we scratch the sparkling and head to Silver Oak for the 9AM tasting?

Thanks.

Jonathan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Domaine Carneros is a very comfortable place to start your day. Mumm isn't bad either. I almost never buy any domestic sparklers, but both places are nice to visit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I often bring visiting guests to either Domaine Carneros or Domaine Chandon. While I prefer Carneros' sparkling to Chandon's both have "first visitor" appeal. Also, both are relatively inexpensive.

THE California Sparkling place to go is Schramsburg - but they charge $25 each. Kinda pricey, but really great wine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always enjoy a morning at Gloria Ferrer if you are going to come up from that direction. The hillside patio has beautiful views of Sonoma Valley and the sparkling wine is quite good.

Also, I was just at Mumm for the first time the other day and thought it was nice as well. They actually pour tasting flights, which I have not seen before at a sparkling wine facility. The location is close to Silver Oak too, if you do plan on going there as well...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mumm has the added appeal of the Ansel Adams photo gallery, and any changing exhibitions they may have at the time.

Add to that the fact tha it's on The Best Road in the United States (Silverado Trail), and you have yourself a big winner. Your guests will love it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Artesa Winery is one of the coolest places I've ever visited. The most radical architecture, sculpture gardens, and gorgeous setting. Although not a large sparkling wine house along the lines of Mumm or Ferrer, sitting on their lovely deck in the sunshine, sipping a glass of their sparkling (or any of the spectacular still) wine overlooking the glorious views of Carneros can't be beat. It's one of those "perfect moments" that can't be replicated anywhere else in that area.

If you want to visit a "sparkling winery" to learn about the whole process then definitely visit one of the larger producers previously mentioned. If you just want to try and/or buy some delicious domestic sparkling wine and have a lovely afternoon, then don't miss Artesa.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Carolyn: In your opinion, aside from the wine (I love their rose) what makes Schramsberg "THE place"?

melkor: I didn't even think about Mumm. And we're doing Pine Ridge so good to be close to the Silverado Trail. Hmmm.

KatieLoeb: I haven't been to Artesa. Good one. We are coming up 121/12 through Carneros. This would probably work out well.

Thanks for the posts...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Carolyn: In your opinion, aside from the wine (I love their rose) what makes Schramsberg "THE place"?

Very extensive tour with warm, friendly people. Definitely off the beat-n-track (way up in Calistoga) and consistently fabulous sparklings.

With all due respect to rdaily on Gloria Ferrer: BLECH. Yea, it is on the main highway, if coming in from the City, but like Viansa, GF is a major tourist trap with mediocre wines.

Also, if you DO decide upon Mumm and the Silverado Trail, stop at Robert Sinsky for great Pinot Noir...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always found that out of town guests who are not real sparkling wine savvy enjoy the flights at Mumm. If you coming in from 121 then Domaine Carneros is definitely the place you should stop. The view is similar to Artessa (Cordeneu Napa), only from the bottom of the hill.

I do believe the sparkling wines you are tasting at Artessa are indeed those that are remaining from before the change from sparkling to still production....either way, the view is tremendous and there are some pretty good Pinot's there also.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With all due respect to rdaily on Gloria Ferrer: BLECH. Yea, it is on the main highway, if coming in from the City, but like Viansa, GF is a major tourist trap with mediocre wines.

With due respect in return, I think singling out Ferrer with a BLECH is a little harsh considering ALL of these major sparkling wine houses in the valley really are the same tourist traps and offer extremely similar wines. I'm not sure what your bias is, but I would put Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, and Mumm all in the same category.

When I was at Mumm last Friday, I had to wade through two full tour buses that were unloading and loading. As well, I nearly gagged on their awful Blanc de Blancs and Brut - only the special bottlings were decent as is the case at Ferrer. However, my recommendations were based on the views, staff, tasting rooms, and whether or not they had some decent sparkling wine. They are all decent enough places to take out of towners.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always found that out of town guests who are not real sparkling wine savvy enjoy the flights at Mumm.  If you coming in from 121 then Domaine Carneros is definitely the place you should stop.  The view is similar to Artessa (Cordeneu Napa), only from the bottom of the hill.

I do believe the sparkling wines you are tasting at Artessa are indeed those that are remaining from before the change from sparkling to still production....either way, the view is tremendous and there are some pretty good Pinot's there also.

Bombdog:

According to Artesa's FAQ page, they are still producing 5000 cases or less of new sparkling every year.

Indeed their Pinot Noirs are delicious. The Chardonnay was very good as I recall as well. I bought several bottles of their wines to bring home and they disappeared quickly. :smile:

To anyone intersted in checking the place out, the virtual tour on the website is tremendous. The building is so cool - it looks like it was dropped into the side of a hill by an alien architect's space ship. The fountains and sculpture gardens are incrdible and the small museum is also quite interesting. The photo of the Terrace is the lovely deck and view I was referrring to.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With all due respect to rdaily on Gloria Ferrer: BLECH. Yea, it is on the main highway, if coming in from the City, but like Viansa, GF is a major tourist trap with mediocre wines.

With due respect in return, I think singling out Ferrer with a BLECH is a little harsh considering ALL of these major sparkling wine houses in the valley really are the same tourist traps and offer extremely similar wines. I'm not sure what your bias is, but I would put Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, and Mumm all in the same category.

When I was at Mumm last Friday, I had to wade through two full tour buses that were unloading and loading. As well, I nearly gagged on their awful Blanc de Blancs and Brut - only the special bottlings were decent as is the case at Ferrer. However, my recommendations were based on the views, staff, tasting rooms, and whether or not they had some decent sparkling wine. They are all decent enough places to take out of towners.

Tourist-wise you are indeed correct - all of the main producers are relatively the same. Only

The bias I have is entirely due to the quality of their product in that vs. the others mentioned, GF is the only one that gives me a headache and a hangover. The others do not.

With the exception of their 1995 Carneros Cuvée and their 1987 Late-Disgorged ETS, the rest of their wines taste akin to Korbel and Freixnet to me.

Besides Schramsburg, the other exceptional California producer of sparking is J - their '97 Vintage Brut was amazing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bombdog:

According to Artesa's FAQ page, they are still producing 5000 cases or less of new sparkling every year.

Katie

I stand corrected. The last time I was in there and tasted, the only sparklers were the older Cordeneu Napa labels. I was (incorrectly) under the impression that they were not producing anymore sparkling wine under the Artessa label after the change over.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a caveat to those Organization websites... Not all the wineries within that appellation belong to the organization so they aren't necessarily on the website. In the case of the Silverado Trail page, Robert Sinskey was the one that jumped out at me as being missing.

This whole thing has become rather fascinating for me as just last evening, here at Ladera, a bunch of wineries got together to discuss starting a Howell Mountain Appellation Winery & Growers Guild. Don't know if it is going to fly or not, but looking at other organizations' sites (Silverado, Oakville, Carneros, etc...) one quickly picks up on the politics within the valley and who plays the games and who doesn't....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Off topic of sparkling, but Darioush and Pine Ridge are worth a visit as they have some very nice wines. I was just out there last week and those 2 places stood out among the ones that I visited.

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bombdog:

According to Artesa's FAQ page, they are still producing 5000 cases or less of new sparkling every year.

Katie

I stand corrected. The last time I was in there and tasted, the only sparklers were the older Cordeneu Napa labels. I was (incorrectly) under the impression that they were not producing anymore sparkling wine under the Artessa label after the change over.

Here's the actual quote from the FAQ's on their website. It's confusing at best. It seems we may both be correct to some extent.

Do you still make sparkling wine?

Indeed we do. Each vintage since 1997 we have been making a small amount (5,000 cases or less) of prestige cuvée which will be released under a new brand name in 2003, after spending over five years aging on the yeast.

But don't despair. We have set aside enough of the best Codorniu Napa cuvées to ensure that sparkling wines will always be available for tasting and sales at our tasting room until the new prestige cuvée is released.

If indeed the prestige cuvée was released a year ago, it might be time to update their website with its price, availability and the new name under which it is bottled, dontcha think? :huh:

On a separate note, I definitely agree with the suggestion of S. Anderson. Also there are a boatload of great small producers on or around Silverado Trail including Sinskey (ethereal Pinot Noirs), Goosecross Cellars (love their Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier), Vincent Arroyo and Chateau Montelena at the northern end which has a lovely Japanese garden and pond on the grounds and wonderful wines as well (particularly the Chardonnay).

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Try the Frank Family winery on larkmead lane north of St Helena. It used to be Hans Kornell winery

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pine Ridge gave a nice tour and tasting. Their caves are worth the stop. One of the nicer tasting rooms was Duckhorn. More relaxed than others in Napa. Our favorite for Sparkiling wine tasting was Iron Horse but they are in Sonoma

Link to comment
Share on other sites

J does make a terrific sparkler.

Looks like the itinerary is changing somewhat - Seavey is having an Open House. And I was able to make an appointment at Barlow.

Regarding Pine Ridge, I've enjoyed their wines in the past but on another thread (different site) I heard that it has been disappointing of late?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with Carolyn on Schramsberg. One of the best the valley has to offer.

There is a reason they pour Schramsberg exclusively at the White House for the past 20 plus years.

Andy Szmidt

WineMiles.com - great wines! low prices!

The early bird may get the worm. But it is the second mouse that gets the cheese.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...