This past Saturday I took a group to visit Napa and our first stop was Ram’s Gate Winery. This winery has a great presence – gorgeous architecture and appointments, and a decent view. Unfortunately, the experience with the employees leaves me wondering what the mission of Ram’s Gate is: a winery producing very good wine to share with potential customers – or to be a close destination from San Francisco to have a mediocre experience, and pay through the nose for it.
The following wineries were visited in the May 2015 trip:
- Scribe – Great story here with the two brothers starting the winery. Their whites are delicious, and they even produce a Sylvaner – a rare bird in the New World. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any of the Chardonnay fermented on it’s skins to pour this time around, a wine I was looking forward to revisiting. The morning was cool and crisp, and the provided wool blankets were welcomed. The cheese plate was very well paired. Just a great casual vibe and good wines. 8/10
- Nickel and Nickel – I had been wanting to check this place out for a while now, since I see their wines on almost every wine list. The location is absolutely gorgeous, and the proprietors have done an outstanding job assembling the buildings. The wines were classic Napa styled and good. Admittedly, by palate lately has been favoring the whites and rose’s due to the season, so any huge red’s placed in front of me weren’t really grabbing me. Seems that this winery was one of the forerunner’s for single vineyard bottlings. 7/10
- Viader – One of my mainstay’s, and I took the opportunity to rejoin the Viader family on this trip. I much prefer mountain grown wine over valley floor grapes. Every tasting at Viader goes a little different, and this time we had the pleasure of a nice stroll through the cave to see the barrels and operation. 9/10
- Chappellet – I first came to know Chappellet via my uncle, who said it was one of his favorites. The founding winery of Pritchard Hill, they keep turning out quality and not charging a ton for it. While I tend to stay with sub-10,000 case/year wineries, I make an exception with these folks. As usual, the tour was great, and it’s nice to have a glass of the rare chenin blanc to start things off with. 8/10
- Ehler’s Estate – Another mainstay for me, and the producer of my “epiphany wine” – the 2005 “1886”. Always a great tasting and the current wines are all tasting well… especially the Sauvignon Blanc and Rose of Cabernet Franc. 10/10