An Afternoon in Napa Valley

How does Napa Valley create unique visitor experiences? I tested two different concepts with mixed results as far as far as wine enjoyment.

It’s been too long since I drove on Highway 29, the road going through Napa Valley. Busy traffic, as I remembered, but a totally new experience as far as a winery visitor.

Tastings were by appointment only.

Maybe this practice is a by-product of the pandemic, limiting the number of visitors on-site and creating enough safely distanced space. But I enjoyed being at a wine bar, tasting and listening to the guests' reactions and questions.

Thankfully, it was a slow week and a slow day, and I was able to register for a few tastings.

Wine Tasting at Chandon, Yountville, CA.

My first stop was for some sparkling wine. I was guided in the garden to a low table and bench, and informed that the Senior educator would host the tasting of 4 wines, only available on the premises.

Aaron brought two glasses and started by presenting two wines:

  • Reserve Meunier and the Barrel Fermented Blanc de Blancs.

After chatting and realizing I was also a wine educator, he kindly poured a comparative flight with the Etoile Brut and Etoile Tete de Cuvee 2014.

We moved to a Pinot Noir Rose and finished on an innovative Garden Spritz Tea. 

The Chandon experience was aimed to be exclusive, however, I felt isolated. Sitting alone in the middle of this huge garden without minimal human interaction was certainly a good thing for focusing on the wines, but the ambiance was, unfortunately cold and impersonal. The quality of the wines served was impeccable; having a spittoon and a few crackers would have been welcome for a price tag of $81.00.

You can find my tasting notes below.

St Supery Estates Vineyards and Winery, Rutherford, CA

St Supery have been a client of ours for several years, using the Wine Aroma Wheel to create a Wine Aromatherapy tasting experience for their guests.

The tasting room was empty, however I felt welcome right away, offered a glass of Rose while browsing the tasting experience menu. 

I opted for the White wine flight ($40.00). 

My host, Laurie, set up the tasting on the mezzanine and took me through the wines.

  • A 2022 Cold Concrete Sauvignon Blanc
  • A 2021 Stainless Steel fermented Sauvignon blanc with a touch of new Frenck oak fermented wine in the blend
  • The 2022 Sauvignon blanc -Semillon Virtu
  • The 2022 Muscat Canelli

Laurie shared stories about the wines and the history of the winery, founded by the Skalli family and now owned by Chanel. She was present but also let me appreciate the wines on my own. 

I was so impressed by the wines and the experience that I signed up to receive their Winemaker’s Collection twice a year. A little splurge!

Here are my tasting notes below.

Joseph Phelps, St Helena, CA

I arrived at 3:45 PM and was told they were not taking any more tasting appointments for the day. That was a bummer.

However, I was given a tour of the boutique, hoping I would purchase a few bottles. I don't know about you, but I do not buy wines at a winery without tasting, so I must return.

Hopefully, it won't be decades before I return to Napa Valley.

What's your best memory in Napa Valley?

Categories: : Lifestyle, Tasting education

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