In downtown Napa, Ackerman Family Vineyards produces outstanding wines and offers a variety of engaging tasting experiences in downtown Napa for visitors to select from. An exciting twist here is that many of these experiences include the opportunity to tour and visit the Ackerman Heritage House, a beautifully and meticulously restored 1888 Queen Anne Victorian home. Guests can feel like they’ve traveled back in time to Napa’s historic Victorian Era as they enjoy wine tasting in a stately home with elegant furnishings and a luxurious and comfortable ambiance. The winery was founded by Bob and Lauren Ackerman and their first commercial release was in 2007, when Ackerman Family Vineyards released a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ackerman Family Vineyards – The Story
Stonehaven Vineyard, the winery’s 16-acre estate, is located at the southeastern end of Napa Valley in the Coombsville AVA. Ackerman Family Vineyards predominantly grows Cabernet Sauvignon on the 11 planted acres on the estate, but they also grow small blocks of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The Ackermans only use a portion of the grapes they grow, and sell the rest of the fruit to other wineries and winemakers. Coombsville has gained recognition for the quality of its slow-ripening Bordeaux varietals, which benefit from the AVA’s cooler climate and well-drained soils which are a mix of river rock and mineral-rich volcanic ash.
Ackerman Family Vineyards has the distinct honor of being Coombsville’s first certified organic vineyard, receiving its certification in 2009 from the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). From the very beginning, Bob and Lauren took a very purposeful approach to their farming. They were inspired by legendary Napa Valley names and set out to pursue meaningful winemaking and produce sophisticated wines which are approachable, food friendly, and have their roots in tradition, just like the wines which they most identify with. Although the first commercial release was not until 2007, the Ackermans have made wine since 1995. This allowed them time to learn about their vineyard, and gain a keen understanding of the fruit grown there, so they could produce the wines which are most reflective of the property and their personal tastes.
In 2010, Lauren Ackerman purchased the Gifford House, an iconic but very sadly faded Queen Anne Victorian. Wanting to restore a piece of the area’s rich cultural history, Lauren and Bob painstakingly restored original redwood handrails, 17 stained glass windows, plaster moldings and every other detail in the house. The house is now furnished with period-appropriate pieces, some of which are one-of-a-kind items Lauren personally discovered and purchased. Each antique and piece of art has a story. The Ackermans also used reclaimed barnwood from the 1800s for the House’s vaulted ceilings.
The entire project took about six years and the Ackermans ended up investing over $2 Million to restore what has become a historic gem, the Ackerman Heritage House. The property has also been updated with a state-of-the-art kitchen and chef’s garden, enabling the winery to offer immersive food, wine and private event experiences. Last year, the wonderful restoration received a Preservation Design Award by The California Preservation Foundation, whose awards are juried by top architects, engineers, planners, historians and architect critics.
Ackerman Family Vineyards – The Wines
Ackerman Family Vineyards produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux blends, a Bordeaux/Sangiovese blend, and a Sauvignon Blanc. The wines are made by winemaker Leo Tellez who is strongly associated with the Coombsville AVA. Leo has worked with a number of small family-owned wineries such as Kapcsándy, Blankiet, Repris, Captûre, Notre Vin and Sodaro Estate. The total wine production at Ackerman is only about 2000 cases per year.
Generally speaking, the red wines of Ackerman Family Vineyards are well balanced in structure with deep and rich berry flavors, well-integrated tannins, and have a wonderful elegance which takes its cue from Bordeaux. The Sauvignon Blanc here is bright with stone fruit accents, hints of lemon curd and floral notes.
To give you a better sense of the structure and characteristics of the red wines produced by Ackerman Family Vineyards we’ll highlight a few. The Cabernet Sauvignon (2015) is a well-balanced wine with an elegant finish, displaying red currant, black cherries, blackberries, and cassis along with savory and warm spice notes on the nose. The palate shows a mix of bright red and dark fruits with fragrant earthy notes within a medium-bodied structure with firm tannins.
The Le Chatelaine Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec (2014) shows deep garnet color with beautiful aromatics of red violets, blackberries and a bit of unsweetened cocoa, with dark fruit and savory elements on the palate all supported by nice tannin and acidity. The Alavigna Tosca Cabernet/Sangiovese Blend (2016) features savory aromatics with dried cherry, blueberry, rustic earthy notes and a touch of clove on the palate all within a well-rounded structure.
We have enjoyed getting to know Ackerman Family Vineyards and adding their wines to our wine cellar. In our opinion, the entire wine portfolio is a wonderful example of wines carefully made to represent their origins, yet with a nod to the Old World. We encourage you to seek out and purchase their wines, and also suggest you lay some bottles down. That way, you can discover for yourself the wonderful nuances a little cellar time will produce in these wonderfully crafted wines.
Ackerman Family Vineyards – The Tasting Experience
Ackerman Family Vineyards wine tastings are mostly held by appointment, and the tour of the Ackerman Heritage House is worth your time. However, a walk-in tasting option is also available in The Aviary, seasonally (typically April to October). The Aviary is a restored carriage house behind the House which was originally built by the prior owners for keeping pheasants and chickens. Walk-in tastings are available from 10 am to 5 pm Thursday through Sunday, for $40 per person.
By appointment, a number of tasting experiences are offered, which include the Historical Tour & Seated Tasting; Stonehaven Vineyard Tour & Tasting at The Ackerman Heritage House; Brunch Wine Tasting; Victorian Picnic Luncheon and a Food & Wine Pairing Lunch. We’ll highlight details about the first two in this article, but please refer to the Ackerman Family Vineyards website for full details about each of the experiences.
The Historical Tour & Seated Tasting experience ($65 per person) is offered by appointment only between 10 am and 5 pm, Monday through Sunday. Your visit includes a tour of the restored 1888 Queen Anne Victorian home followed by a seated tasting of current release wines from Ackerman Family Vineyards. You’ll learn about the rich history of the Ackerman Heritage House and the winery’s approach to farming and winemaking.
The Stonehaven Vineyard Tour & Tasting at the Ackerman Heritage House experience is offered by appointment only, depending on availability ($150 per person, and a minimum of a case purchase required). This experience includes a walking tour of the 16-acre Estate vineyard in Coombsville. You’ll learn about the unique terroir of the Coombsville appellation and the history of the organically-farmed vineyard as you explore the gardens and take in the breathtaking views. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy a seated tasting of current release wines paired with savory bites at the Ackerman Heritage House.
A portion of the cost of the various wine tasting experiences may be waived with certain minimum purchases and/or with wine club membership.
In addition to offering wine tasting experiences, Ackerman Family Vineyards can also host private ceremonies, chef-led wine dinners, and/or corporate events. They also occasionally offer Afternoon Teas, where you can enjoy traditional English Tea served with period-correct antique china alongside tea sandwiches, dainty tarts and seasonal house-made jams and savory bites. Future Teas include Lover’s Tea on February 16, Prelude to Easter Tea on April 11 and Prelude to Mother’s Day Tea on May 9 (all at 1 pm). You can also make reservations online, and Teas scheduled for later in the year include Grandparents Day Tea on September 13, and two separate Christmas Teas on December 6 and 13.
Location and Contact Information
Ackerman Family Vineyards is located at 608 Randolph Street, at the corner of 5th Street in Downtown Napa. The winery’s tasting room is conveniently located just two blocks off of Napa’s Main Street and is easily walkable from downtown hotels. If you are driving, the travel time is about an hour from either San Francisco or Santa Rosa, about 30 minutes from St. Helena, and about 25 minutes from the city of Sonoma. There is plenty of street and nearby public parking, and/or if you are driving an electric car, there is a Chargepoint charging station at the nearby 5th Street Garage.
You can contact the winery at (855) 238-9463 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Else is Nearby
If you plan to visit Ackerman Family Vineyards, we also recommend that you seek out other wineries in Downtown Napa such as Robert Craig Winery, Outland Tasting Room, Mayacamas, Gamling & McDuck, and John Anthony Vineyards. If you would like to visit other Coombsville-based wineries we recommend Palmaz Vineyards, Farella Vineyard, Italics Winegrowers and Scalon Cellars. Nearby restaurants we particularly enjoy include Carpe Diem Wine Bar, Compline, Grace’s Table, La Taberna, Napa Valley Bistro, Oenotri, Pasta Prego Trattoria, Tarla Mediterranean Grill, Torc and Zuzu. Or, you can follow the drop-down menus above to see our Favorites by Wine Region for additional suggestions here and elsewhere in Napa Valley, or other wine country travel destinations.
We, the Two Guys From Napa, highly recommend that you plan a visit to Ackerman Family Vineyards to enjoy another wonderful tasting experience in the Napa Valley. Cheers!