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Napa/February 2012/Day 1

The excitement of driving into Napa and Sonoma never ends for me.  I’ve visited the region many times, but I never tire of the beauty of the first vineyards I see and the longing of my first taste of the trip!


We had plans to meet some friends at a winery, but had a little time to kill before that appointment.  We spotted the tasting room for Beau Vigne and decided to give it a shot.  I wasn’t familiar with their wines, but the tasting room was very inviting and a very nice young guy was there to greet us and pour some of their wines.  Come to find out, this nice young guy was BEAU himself, the son of the winery owners!  No wonder he was so knowledgeable!!!

We tasted four wines.  The first was the 2009 Beau Vigne Persuasion from Russian River Valley grapes.  This lovely Chardonnay has a nice mixture of citrus and pineapple on the nose, and on the palate a kiss of oak with nice acidity.  We picked up a bottle of this to take home.

We also picked up a bottle of the next wine we tasted, the 2009 Soda Canyon Cellars Barrel Chaser.  Beau’s father came up with the name, as their winery is located way up on Atlas Peak.  He wondered one day what might happen if a barrel fell off the truck going up the mountain, and realized that someone would indeed be chasing after the barrel.  The wine was very nice, with a lot of black fruit and smoky meat.  It has 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Syrah, 2% Petite Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc.

Next up was the 2009 Juliet Cabernet Sauvignon.  By the way, Juliet is Beau’s sister!  This left bank blend is comprised of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon; 15% Merlot; 2% Petite Verdot; 2% Cabernet Franc.  It has nice dark cherry and rose petal on the nose and palate.

Last but not least was the 2009 Cult, with 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petite Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc.  It has a lot of big, spicy fruit with a bit of tobacco and licorice.  This is a wine to enjoy for years to come.


We next went to our scheduled appointment at Elyse Winery, which has been a favorite of ours for years.  Again, Elyse is the daughter of the owner.  Her brother, Jacob Franklin, also has a label.

John walked us through the wines.  Elyse does a lot of Rhone Varietals and some great Cabs, but is known for their fine Zinfandels.  We tasted through many different wines.  The highlights for me were the ’09 Chardonnay (made in the Burgundian style with some really nice fruit and crisp acidity), the 2007 C’est Si Bon (46% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, 18% Syrah, 5% Cinsault, 4% Counoise and 1% Viognier) and the 2007 Le Corbeau from the Hudson Vineyard (90% Grenache and 10% Syrah).

Another winner was the 2009 Jacob Franklin Petite Sirah from Hayne Vineyard.  This is 86% Petite Sirah and 14% Zinfandel.  From very old vines, this wine gives off smoke, black raspberry and leather on the nose with lots of fruit, nice acidity and chewy tannins on the palate.  What did we end up buying????  A case of the 2007 Jacob Franklin Cabernet Sauvignon and some great Zin from Black Sears Vineyard!  Check out Elyse and Jacob Franklin wines!!!  You’ll be glad that you did.


Our friends were kind enough to invite us to a reserve tasting at Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) that is available to club members.  Christine was in charge of us and was very kind and knowledgeable.

BV is one of the oldest wineries in Napa.  Originally started by Georges de Latour and his wife Fernande in 1900, B.V. (as it is often called) survived Prohibition due to their obtaining a contract to supply sacramental wines to churches across the country.  Following the Repeal of Prohibition in 1933, B.V. hired Andre Tchelistcheff as their winemaker and the wine quality increased significantly.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Beaulieu has been known as a fine winery since.

Some of the wines were quite nice. I enjoyed the 2008 Carneros Reserve Pinot Noir.  This wine was big for a Pinot, but still displayed some nice plum and blueberry fruit, along with some nice earthiness.  The highlight for me was the 2006 Reserve Clone 4 Cabernet.  B.V. uses this clone (which was originally brought to the U.S. from Argentina and now grows in their Rutherford vineyards) in their classic Reserve Cabs.  Each year they do a very limited bottling of exclusively the Clone 4.  At $140 per bottle, this is a special occasion wine at my house.


We headed right next door for dinner at The Rutherford Grill.  We love this eatery and try to dine there whenever visiting Napa.  They have a great variety of foods to offer.  Vegetarians and meat eaters alike will rejoice at the options.  Their wine list is wonderful as well.  They have a lot of fun wines by the glass, and their bottle prices aren’t out of control.  We chose a bottle of the 2009 Lail Blueprint.  It was young, but yummy!

Our lodging choice while in Napa was the River Terrace Inn.  We had never stayed there before, but were pleasantly surprised with the place.  The lobby was warm and welcoming, with a small bar and a huge fireplace and comfy seating throughout.  They also have a very nice fire pit outside!  The rooms were large, clean and comfortable, and the staff was VERY friendly and helpful.  The hotel location was good, with tasting rooms and shops within walking distance.

One night while enjoying the lobby fireplace with a glass of wine, I met a gal who often stays at the River Terrace Inn.  She told me that they were completely gutting the lobby area and redoing it to compete with the Westin next door.  I sure do hope that this is only a rumor.  I would love to stay in this warm, quaint hotel again.  I can always stay at the Westin if I want to stay at a Westin!

Next Up:  More adventures in Napa!

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