Thursday, January 12, 2012

Italian Varietals in the Napa Valley

Cabernet is king in Napa.  As I tell my guests, good $100 Napa Cabs are a dime a dozen.  Therefore, I am always on the lookout for Napa producers who make other types of wine.  Recently I was introduced to Benessere Vineyards, a small producer of Italian varietals, located between St. Helena and Calistoga.

If you like Italian wine and/or Zinfandel (red, not pink), you'll want to stop by this small, friendly tasting room.  You won't find crowds here as the winery is on a side road and requires an appointment to visit.  However, you will find good wine. 

Benessere makes a couple of Zinfandels, including one from vines planted in the 1920s, which are usually included in your tasting.  You are also likely to taste Pinot Grigio, Rosato (Rosé), Sangiovese, and a Super Tuscan-style wine called Phenomenon, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, and Syrah.  Benessere also makes small lots from Anglianico, Muscat di Canelli, and Sagrantino.  However, these wines are for wine club members and seldom available for tasting due to the limited production.

If you want to have a picnic while you are tasting, the Benessere staff are happy to have you taste outside while you lunch.  Tastings cost $15/person.  The tasting room is open daily from 10:00 - 5:00.  To make an appointment, phone 707-963-5853 ext. 105.  You are always welcome to call at the last minute to see if space is available.  Staff will do their best to accommodate you.  Better yet, take a private tour with Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel and let us make your appointment for you.  For more information, phone (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail  Benessere Vineyards is located at 1010 Big Tree Road, just off CA 29.

1 comment:

Lynn Eichinger said...

I am so glad to see you write about Benessere! Jim and I ' discovered' them a couple years ago and joined their club last year. Their Old Vine Zin is totally to die for and the Italian varietals are a nice departure from the rest of Napa. Plus they are really friendly people.