Napa: The Runner Up

Last post about Napa, I promise, and then back to posting about my journey through other wine varietals. ūüėČ

Before I get into my “Runner Up” I don’t think I said it before, but The Meritage was amazing! It was right outside downtown Napa, and was perfectly located for us to quickly get to where we needed to. The staff was awesome, we got a complimentary bottle of wine, and the views were just fantastic. On site they also have this fabulous spa…located in caves underneath their vine trellises! Funnily enough, it was after we visited the “Runner Up” winery that we went back to the resort for massages. I can’t say enough about how relaxing this place was. An incredible ambiance to really set you at ease; with a jacuzzi and steam room, you could easily spend hours before or after a treatment continuing to let that stress just melt away. (I even fell asleep in their quiet room while waiting for my masseuse!)

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This was atop the walking trail around all the grape vines, looking down on the property.

I’d definitely recommend this hotel to anyone looking to go. Sure, some might like to stay a bit further up the valley, but I am so glad Mom and I decided to park ourselves here for the duration of our adventure.

Final winery……

We visited only one other winery while out in Napa, and I felt that this one came in close behind the two I opted to join (and Castello di Amorosa…from which I intend to order some more wines!). ¬†The final winery: Trefethen.

I’ve seen at least a couple of their wines available at local stores but have always noted their higher price tags, so I hadn’t taken the leap to splurge even though I’ve wanted to try their wines. Our trip, though,¬†provided the perfect opportunity, and this was actually one of the first wineries I tossed onto our list of possible stops.

Trefethen Family Vineyards

Trefethen (Treh-feh-then, not Treh-fay-thin like I was saying it before our trip) was our only other stop after Silverado. Pulling up, we were greeted by a very majestic looking entry (check out the photo at the top of the post). Driving up to the building, we passed cabernet sauvignon vines that were planted in the early 2000s, malbec planted only a handful of years ago. I don’t think I can quite get over how cool it is to drive by the fruit that will eventually make it into my glass!

JwIAZmmuQ4e2gbwwTNQsRwWe arrived at this beautiful, burnt sienna-colored, barn-like building, which used to be the facility used for the entire wine production. As we approached we saw not only a gorgeous fountain and pool of river rocks, but also a giant cake…Trefethen is celebrating their 50th year in 2018!! And to top it off, if the cake wasn’t enough, many of their bottles released this year have special labels, commemorating the winery’s birthday!

The moment you walk in the doors, you feel like family. Honestly, their staff is so friendly and welcoming. After checking in and selecting our wine flights, Katie, their hostess, brought us upstairs while telling us the story of their vineyard and the McIntyre Building itself. Though the building itself used to house all aspects of wine production, many of those tasks have since be relocated to other buildings on the property, so it’s now home to the Estate Tasting Room.

Relatively recently (I think it was 2014), an earthquake hit Napa which caused a portion of the McIntyre Building to shift about 4 feet. Yep,¬†four feet. Can you imagine? As a result of the earthquake, many renovations were necessary, and that included fortifying the structure with massive steel beams. The interior of the Estate Tasting Room is a combination of lofted air ducts and steel beams, with the wooden walls; as I have said for years, “I love lofts.” It weirdly reminded me a bit of my wedding venue:

This beautiful table was actually made from an old oak tree that used to grow in front of the building, where that fountain now sits. Unfortunately, one day it fell. The family didn’t want to just get rid of it, so they repurposed the wood to furnish their tasting room, allowing it to live on with Trefethen just with a different purpose.

Mom and I opted to try different flights – I took the ‘Essentials’ while Mom got the ‘Small Lots’:

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In retrospect, I am a bit mad at myself for not bringing a mini notebook to jot down my tasting notes.

It may seem a bit weird to say, but I enjoyed all of these wines. The Dry Riesling and the Quandary were my favorite white wines. Refreshing and delicate, the riesling was crisp, as promised. Both had great notes of orange, but the Quandary’s taste was just slightly more candied. The Quandary also had a pretty cool label, being printed on opposite side of the back label, so you can read it through the front of the bottle. The Merlot was extremely smooth, and a fantastic segue into the Dragon’s Tooth, which is a blend of malbec, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot.

S1ccChPkSAC2d3AbeVLtJAI loved the taste of the Dragon’s Tooth, which had a heavier mouthfeel. But what also was captivating was the bottle design: the dragon represents the matriarch’s Welsh heritage, as it’s part of the Welsh crest. The dragon stands upon their vineyard fields, and each of the stars in the sky represents the Trefethen family: Eugene and Catherine, their son John and his wife Janet, and their children, Hailey and Loren. This bottle symbolizes more than just good wine inside; it represents their past, present, and future. I know they have other bottles that are also dedicated to the family, but this one really just stuck with me.

The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and O¬∑K¬∑D Three were all exceptional (the latter being my absolute, hands down favorite of the tasting flights…yes, I have expensive taste), but we had a special surprise on account of the fact that we showed up on a Thursday, when they pour samples from one of their library wines. Joe, who was helping us navigate our tasting flights, came around with their 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon and poured us a small treat (in fresh glasses, so we got a pristine representation of the wine). Stunning. That wine could easily age for another decade or more. Perfect tannins and body, still incredibly structured. Oh wow, I would love to try it again. Alas, pictures and my memory are all that remain ūüėČ

Truly a wonderful experience all around, I sort of wish we would’ve taken a tour and learned a bit more detail about their actual production. They grow and produce wines in larger quantities and also in small lots. We saw a map of their plantings, including the grounds that don’t have vines planted at the moment but which they are gearing up to plant more in the future (they have other crops planted there to keep the soil fertile and try to get nutrients throughout the property).

That’s another thing. I realize how important it is, at least to me, to drink wines from these one stop shops. As I said with Silverado, originally they sold their grapes to other nearby wineries, until they realized how good the wines being made from them were, so they began producing their own wines. Trefethen grows their grapes, ferments and ages their wines, and does it all on the estate. To me it feels more personal, like there’s more care being served in each bottle. That’s not to say that any winery who doesn’t perform some aspect of the wine-making process is bad; there are many reasons why that’s not even feasible for some (financial reasons are a huge part of it, in addition to space, and staff resources). But I can say that my appreciation for those who take the wine from vine to bottle has grown immensely. It’s not an easy process, and it’s often not a short process.

This trip, my first to Napa, was one I’ll never forget. It was memorable not only for the great wines I drank, but also for the feeling you get from being in that area of the world, and also because it was really the first time in as long as I can remember where my mom and I had an opportunity to be just us. I’ll never forget our mom and daughter adventure to wine country, and I thank her – and all of you – for being a part of my journey.

If you have any recommendations for wineries to visit – Napa or otherwise – feel free to comment on the post or shoot me a message. It’s been a true pleasure sharing my trip with you!

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Cheers!

 

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