First stop? Paraduxx, Duckhorn's sister winery in the valley. Paraduxx makes a rose, and red wine blends. When we pour Paraduxx it usually sells. It's a great table wine that you can buy retail around $48. It's not made for major cellaring so it's perfect to have around the house for your next dinner party. Each year yields a different blend and I liked the '04 and '05 best. I made it home with a bottle of the '04.
The most surprising part of my visit was trying their rose. Now rose is SO trendy and it is usually sweet so both are big stikes for me. Their rose was nice and crisp and reminded me of the characteristics that I love so much in our Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc. Bravo.
Next stop? Josheph Phelps. I have been a longtime fan of Phelps and often used to purchase his wines when I lived in the mid west and east coast. Especially if I could expense it with my old corporate Amex that I miss so much. Walking up to the winery, Mr. Phelps greeted us and asked about my sister and her recent wedding. It was a nice chat and then we began our tasting.
Phelps has been making wines since 1974. Their vineyards are located just off the Silverado Trail in what seems as their own nook in the valley. Rightfully so. It is quite beautiful as you see below. We began with their white wines, syrah and others but Mike and I came for the Insignia and cabernets. Insignia is their heavy hitting red wine blend that starts at a little over $200 retail. Boom! There goes your wallet. I made it home with a bottle of '05 cab that I will need to hold on to for several years before enjoying although we both thought it was pretty approachable when we tried it.
Now it's off to Plumpjack. Plumpjack is a group that has a collection of lifestyle businesses in food, wine and hospitality. My kind of company. I wanted to scope them out because I am interested in learning more about potential opportunities within the company and I thought I should do a little homework. After all, my day of wine tasting was work and research for jobs and the blog...right?
Walking in we recognized a friend of my sisters that recognized Mike and manages Plumpjack Winery's sales and marketing. He took a break from the desk and walked us through our tasting. He included a rare treat...a taste of the '06 estate cabernet that he grabbed from the bottling line. Talk about good timing! I made it home with a bottle of 2006 estate merlot and an invite for the opening of their new Howell Mountian winery, Cade, in August.
Last stop was Elyse. This was Mike's pick and I had heard a lot about it. But before we got there, we passed about 10 highway patrol cars and a presidential motorcade. Turns out George W was in town (yawn).
Elyse is a small family-run winery located between Napa and Yountville. Their tasting room is unpretentious and small. It reminded me very much of the one my father had when I was a child. Elyse, named after their daughter, makes very interesting blends but is mostly rooted in its Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. Nancy Coursen greeted us and was very kind to share a bottle of their new Howell Mountain Cabernet that they had yet to release. It was wonderful but unfortunately not for sale. I came home with an '06 Zinfandel instead.
All in all, wine tasting was a blast. And by going with Michael I learned a lot. It was great to be a tourist in my own town and I plan on continuing my education and building my small cellar.