Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cozy Tasting Room in St. Helena

I'd driven past Corison Winery in St. Helena many times and never given it much thought. That was a mistake!

Earlier this year, I read a glowing article about winemaker and owner Cathy Corison that piqued my interest. Yesterday, I had a chance to stop by. Corison is not the typical Napa ode to ego. The tasting room is in the front of the winery and consists of an old door laid across a couple of barrels. The tasting fee is a modest $10, which is credited to your wine purchase. But the wine is something else.

Corison produces two Cabernet Sauvignons, which are among Napa's best according to my Cab-loving friends. These are the wines that bring people into the winery. When you visit, you'll get to taste the current releases of both Cabernets and will have the opportunity to purchase older Cabs from Corison's library. I'm not a Cab guy, but I enjoyed Corison's Gewürztraminer and Petite Sirah.

If you want to taste good wine without a lot of fuss and without fighting the crowds, then Corison is for you. Tasting is by appointment, but you can call on the day of your visit to schedule a time to come in. Corison can be reached at (707) 963-0826. The winery and tasting room are located at 987 St. Helena Hwy, at the southern end of St. Helena.

If you would like to take a private Napa tour that includes visits to Corison and other small wineries, please feel free to call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Zin and Gewürzt in the Russian River Valley

Twice I have had the opportunity to take folks to Harvest Moon Estate and Winery in the Russian River Valley. This small tasting room features friendly staff and good wine.

Harvest Moon is owned by Bob and Ginny Pitts. On my recent, visit their son and Harvest Moon's winemaker, Randy Pitts, stopped by the tasting room, talked about his philosophy of making wine, and poured my guests some of his limited production Pinot Noir.

As you approach the tasting room, you are likely to be greeted by the Pitts' friendly dog. You'll then see the small production facilities off to your right. Harvest Moon only makes around 2,000 cases of wine so they don't need a lot of equipment.

Harvest Moon produces three different Zinfandels, a still and sparkling Gewürztraminer, a Late Harvest Zin, Pinot, and Cab. Not all of the wines are available for tasting, but you should be able to taste some Zin and Gewürzt when you stop by. When we visited, the winery was pouring its 2007 Early Harvest Gewürztraminer, the first wine I've seen from this year's harvest. My guests also tasted a barrel sample of Harvest Moon's Late Harvest Zinfandel.

If you would like to take a private tour of the Russian River Valley that includes a visit to Harvest Moon, feel free to call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Tasting Room Experience - Part II

A couple of weeks ago I commented on how an unfriendly staff person can ruin the tasting room experience. This past week I saw this issue again, but this time the result was a much improved tasting experience.

Last week, some guests wanted to visit Hartford Family Winery in the Russian River Valley. I had avoided taking guests to this winery because of two bad experiences I had around the time Blue Heron first opened. On both occasions I was served by the same man and both times found him to be an unbearable snob. As a result, I never took folks to taste at Hartford.

Over the past few months, one of the staff at De Loach Vineyards encouraged me to give Hartford another try. So, when my guests requested a visit to Hartford, I was pleased to have the opportunity to see if new staff would improve the tasting experience. I am happy to say that the tasting experience was excellent. The staff member who served us was friendly and knowledgeable about Hartford's single-vineyard Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Plus the visitor center is located in a pretty building surrounded by lovely vineyards. I will definitely add Hartford to my list of tasting rooms to visit.

If you would like to take a private wine country tour that includes visits to Hartford Family Winery and/or De Loach Vineyards, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.