Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Delicious Wines - No Tasting Fees

Most wineries in the Napa Valley charge a tasting fee ranging from $5 to $15/person for their regular wines and up to $40/person for reserve wines. Fees were not always the norm. In the 1960s and 1970s winetasting in Napa was usually free. But too many people were stopping at the wineries for a free drink; with no interest in learning about wine and no intention of buying any. So most wineries started charging fees to taste.

One of my favorite wineries in the Valley,
Frank Family Vineyards, has great wine, hospitable staff, and free tasting. Frank Family remains the only winery that I frequently visit on tour where my guests have always purchased wine. Why? Because the wine is delicious. If you like big wines, Frank Family is for you. They produce a Chardonnay, which they call a white wine for red wine lovers; a regular, reserve, and premium Cabernet; a very big Zinfandel; Sangiovese; four sparkling wines; and a Zinfandel Port. All wines are not always available. Being a small winery, they frequently sell out of their releases. If you would like to taste a wine that is not being poured, ask if the wine is available. The staff will accommodate you if they can.

The tasting room is very casual. Dennis, Tim, Pat, Jerry, and Jeff preside over the room and will make sure you feel at home. In fact, the tasting room looks like it is in a 1950s ranch home. The front room is where you will taste the sparkling wines, which Frank Family calls Champagne. When you are finished up front, you will be ushered into the rear room to taste the still wines. At the end of your visit, you will have tasted at least six wines, gotten a good wine education, and probably laughed a bit. If Jeff is pouring ask him why he calls the Zinfandel, "LPR."

Frank Family is in the historic Larkmead Winery and the former home of Hans Kornell Champagne. The tasting room's address is 1091 Larkmead Lane, Calistoga and is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

If you would like to include Frank Family on a private, custom tour of the Napa Valley, please call me at (866) 326-4237 or e-mail me by clicking
here.

2 comments:

Tamara Sundquist said...

Paul and I stopped by the Frank Family Vineyards on a whim cruising thru the valley. We happened to join a group who was having a tour. The gentlemen behind the bar was tasting champagne and he was wonderful. Very warm, real and friendly, hard to do with big group. Stepped down the hall to the red room and had very special red wines. The man in this room was funny, knowledgable and very outgoing. We were very impressed with the warmth and kindness the people at Frank Vineyards expressed. I had a fun time and tasted good wine. Hats off to Frank Vineyards!

Tamara Sundquist said...

Paul and I stopped by the Frank Family Vineyards on a whim cruising thru the valley. We happened to join a group who was having a tour. The gentlemen behind the bar was tasting champagne and he was wonderful. Very warm, real and friendly, hard to do with big group. Stepped down the hall to the red room and had very special red wines. The man in this room was funny, knowledgable and very outgoing. We were very impressed with the warmth and kindness the people at Frank Vineyards expressed. I had a fun time and tasted good wine. Hats off to Frank Vineyards!