Coming back home to Napa doesn’t always necessarily mean going wine tasting every day. Sometimes I just want to drink some good ol’ local brews instead of the usual Italian Moretti. However, I did want to take advantage of being here so I could start to learn the trade. I would feel much better if I had more formal training so I started off on this path by signing up for a 2 hour “Taste Like A Pro Wine Class” at the CIA. It was incredibly useful and piqued my interest even more. The best part was tasting a lush velvety ’97 Sterling Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. It was the first time I really experienced that leathery spicy taste that you get with an aged wine. We even saw the significant rim variation which is like counting tree rings to see its age! This was an amazing experience especially for developing my olfactory skills with the help of the Aroma Wheel!

Another big step for me while home was meeting with a very well known and respected Bay Area Importer. I provided them with some wines that I consider unique from my area, Piemonte. After my class I felt a lot more confident in talking about wine and tasting it together with these professionals. It was my first insight into the business side of wine and was an invaluable experience.


ARTESA – Despite being right around the corner from my house in Carneros, this winery’s views never cease to amaze me! With a group of childhood friends we sat out on the lovely terrace while drinking their Grand Reserve sparkling wine and moved on to the reds. Artesa is known for their Pinots but the red that impressed me the most was the Cab Franc. I highly recommend visiting this winery both for the 360 degree view of the Bay Area and the wines!

REVERIE – Reverie is a small estate winery producing only about 500 cases. Here, the woodsy setting on exclusive Diamond Mountain was a complete change from the hot hilly Carneros. After curiously trying their Barbera in the caves, we tried my favorite of their 9 varietals, the 2007 Cab Franc (yet again!).   INDIAN PEAK VINEYARDS – We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to taste wines up in the Sierra Nevadas. It was a surprise to see a tasting room up there! What was even more surprising was how good their wines were. I was extremely impressed by the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and learned about the fun story of the tasting room. Because the location was a former pre-school, they made sure to hold on to the history by decorating the place with old students’ signatures on the walls and on individual glasses. They even named their best customers the teacher’s pets. The staff was incredibly friendly and generous, offering $5 tastings and giving you the glass.
CHEERS Event St. Helena – Orin Swift’s Saldo Zinfandel – One of the most enjoyable things to do in the valley is attend “Cheers” on the first Friday night of every month. St. Helena opens up all its shops and galleries and provides wine tastings with different wineries in each shop. All you have to do is pay for the bracelet and shop, party and drink in the streets. My favorite wine from this event was The Saldo Wine. The simple label had previsouly caught my eye in a wine shope and the taste of this zingy blackberry jam Zinfandel caught my attention. Only the best Zinfandel grapes from around Northern California are selected without having the constraint of staying within one appellation. A nice find.


WHOLE FOODS KERMIT LYNCH IMPORTER TASTING: Often I find that tastings in Napa lack passionate people who master telling the stories behind the wines as I have been accustomed to in Italy. However, this tasting was a great learning experience from the Wine Rep who was pouring small lesser known wines. The one I liked best was the soft and fresh Italian sparkling wine, Sommariva Prosecco.  I was blown away that on the second white, a Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc, I smelled a parmesan cheese rind aroma!The next day in my wine course I learned that I wasn’t totally insane when I saw lactic characteristics being narrowed down to an aged cheese aroma! That was pretty cool!
BACK ROOM WINE SHOP TASTING: This was another great deal in a downtown Napa wine shop. We tasted about 10 wines for 10 bucks! The winemakers were pouring and we could meet with a small local importer. Again, I was a little disappointed in the way the wines were presented and was not generally impressed by the wines. However, there was one white that distinguished themselves from the rest. This was the first ever made vintage of their one and only wine, Riesling. The winery name is Weingut Edelweiss. The woman winemaker studied in Germany and Northern Italy while the owner was from Switzerland. I loved the way they talked about Europe with a glow in their eyes and loved that they followed the drier European reisling style. For the first release ever, this shows promise!
CEJA VINEYARDS TASTING ROOM – The first night back in Napa my family went out to dinner downtown. As we were walking down Napa’s revived streets, I noticed the Ceja Vineyards Tasting Room. My mom recognized the owner Amelia just as I was coicidentally telling her about our twitter friendship online. So I popped in, introduced myself with my twitter name @winesavi and listened to her amazing Cinderella story. She offered us a glass of their 2007 Pinot Noir which was … out of this world. Caught up in the moment, I didn’t take notice of wine details.
The cool thing about living here is that you are totally immersed by a wine culture. Everywhere you go people are talking about wine, people are very open and willing to help you and most importantly you have access to some of the world’s best wines! More individual wine mentions are to come…these are some of my Napa wine tasting suggestions…hope you check them out!