With endless libations in Napa Valley, it can become a bit overwhelming when deciding which winery to visit on your trip. Alternatively, if it’s not your first time at the rodeo, you may be happy to learn about some wineries located off the “Vegas Strip” that is Highway 29. Whether you’re a first timer, or an old timer, we feel strongly that you’ll want to know about a few of the cool kids in town.
After 5 years of creating cult-worthy Zinfandel for Turley Wine Cellars, winemaker Ehren Jordan & co-owner Anne-Marie Failla launched Pinot powerhouse Failla Winery. Ehren’s vinous past also includes working in (and drinking through) the Rhone as an apprentice to Jean-Luc Colombo. This would prove to be time well spent honing his craft and developing a passion for cool climate viticulture. Today for Failla, Ehren makes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Viognier in a style evocative of his Old World exploits.
By appointment only
Steve Matthiasson spent most of his early days dreaming of “the farmers life”, when he finally found a break at an agriculture consulting firm. He is now considered something of a vine whisperer in Napa; consulting on famed vineyards such as Spottswoode, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, and Hall. His wife and partner, Jill studied botany at Penn, ancient farming techniques in Israel and soil at UC Davis. Needless to say, she is terra firma adroit. On their own property in addition to vineyards they cultivate everything from persimmons to chickens. Their combined talent for nurturing all things consumable is locally revered. Matthiasson Wines is known for their elegant and zesty Northern Italian Ribolla Gialla blend, but all their wines have proven to be extremely food friendly, old world in style, and low in alcohol.
Matthiasson is not open to the public, however to learn more, visit http://www.matthiassonwines.com
This relic dates back to the early 1800’s, located high up on Mount Veeder in Napa. The fairly new owners of this vineyard have made a point of sticking with tradition. Instead of knocking the historic building down for a shiny new facility, Charles Banks and Jay Schottenstein have chosen a beatnik-chic style, juxtaposing a modern interior decor with the winery’s original creaky hardwood floors. Their stone built cellar still houses the large redwood barrels used during the winery’s first years. Keeping with tradition has paid off, as the wines are a beautiful expression of place and history.
Way atop Howell Mountain, over hill, dale, and dusty trail, you’ll find this hidden gem. Originally founded in 2001, Outpost has since become a beacon for small producers to custom crush under the meticulous care of winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown (of Schrader fame, amongst others). Sitting outside with an expansively glorious vineyard view at 2200 feet elevation, you’ll taste through Cabernet and Zinfandel made from estate grown grapes, a true rarity in post-90s Napa. Their location is ideal for Cabernet and Zinfandel, but make sure to taste their Grenache if you can; its beguiling texture is matched only by its difficulty to obtain. Dare we say “Unicorn wine”?
Perliss Vineyards are the new guys in town, but the site they’ve chosen has a tale as old as Napa time. Their 3-acre, organically—farmed “Ravens Vineyard” site was part of the 19th century Rancho Mallacomes land grant that eventually became Knights Valley and Calistoga proper. Lending credence to the quality of the site is winemaker Aaron Pott, a consultant for top Cabernet producers in Napa for the past two decades. The Perliss family—while new to the wine game— are already making a splash with their first few releases of powerful and impressively balanced Cabernet.