Thursday, July 16, 2009

Zinfandel in the Napa Valley

Sonoma County, Lodi, and the Sierra Foothills are better known for Zinfandel (red, not pink) than is the Napa Valley. Some wineries do offer Zinfandel in the tasting rooms, e.g. Grgich Hills and Rombauer. However, few wineries in Napa specialize in Zinfandel.

An exception is Robert Biale Vineyards. The family moved to Napa in the 1930s and planted Zinfandel grapes. For many years the family was content to sell its grapes but, in 1991, decided to make its first Zinfandel. Four hundred cases were made from the Biale's 60-year-old Zinfandel vines. Today, Biale makes Zinfandel from grapes it grows as well as from grapes purchased from small growers. In addition, the winery makes tasty Petite Sirah, Barbera, Sangiovese, and Syrah.

When you walk into the tasting room, you'll be greeted by a friendly member of the staff who will walk you through a tasting of the available wines. Biale often sells out of its wines so, in the winter months, the number of wines available for tasting may be limited. Tasting is by appointment at Biale. If you're visiting during the middle of the week or during the off season, you should be able to call in the morning for an appointment later in the day. If you're planning on visiting on a weekend during the summer or fall, try to call a few days in advance for an appointment.

If you would like to take a private Napa Valley tour or a private tour that focuses on Zinfandel, please contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 or

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Too Much Wine to Taste in Carneros

The Mondavi family is no longer involved in the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. However, Robert's son, Michael, is still in the wine business through his company, Folio Wine Partners. The company imports a number of wines and produces wine at its Folio Winemakers Studio in the Napa portion of Carneros

Folio also lets other winemakers use the Studio's facilities to produce their own wines. As a result, the list of wines available for tasting is quite extensive. At Folio you can taste Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and other wines.

When you arrive you'll be greeted by the friendly staff and given two lists of wines available for tasting. Decide which tasting you'd like to do, check off the wines you want to taste, and the staff will begin to walk you through your tasting. Take your wine to the deck overlooking the vineyard and you may never leave.

Folio is open daily from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. If you would like to take a private wine country tour that includes a visit to Folio, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or at