Wine Tasting From Home: Napa Pinot Noirs

Napa Pinot Noirs from the Carneros AVA

Napa Pinot Noirs from the Carneros AVA

If you’re looking for a virtual “wine tasting trip” recommendation, consider focusing on Napa Pinot Noir wines. That’s right, the ones from Napa! Cabernet Sauvignon grapes here may get more of the fame and accolades, but we’re just as fond of the wines crafted from Pinot Noir grapes grown here. After all, part of the Carneros AVA is in Napa Valley. Keep reading and we’ll tell you about some of our favorite Napa Pinot Noirs. All wineries, whether large or small, are in need of your support right now, especially the small family-owned establishments. So your patronage would be greatly appreciated.

To simulate a wine tasting trip from home just order a few wines, put together a charcuterie board, and voila! Most of the wines are still available for purchase on the wineries’ websites, and several of them are offering discounts on shipping charges. If you want, you can probably find the tech sheets for the wines online (or ask for copies when you place your order) to learn more about the vineyards, the harvesting, the aging, and/or what to expect the wine to smell and taste like. Just don’t forget to stay hydrated during your “trip.”

ZD 50th Anniversary Reserve Cuvée, with 59% Napa Pinot Noir grapes

ZD 50th Anniversary Reserve Cuvée

If you’d like to start the fun with a Sparkling Wine, the ZD Wines 50th Anniversary Reserve Cuvée is made of 59% Napa Pinot Noir (and 41% Chardonnay) from ZD’s estate vineyard in Carneros. If you are a fan of Rosés, Bouchaine Vineyards and Robert Sinskey Vineyards both recently released their 2019 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir wines. We’ve had the pleasure of tasting all three of those, and highly recommend them all. And yes, the Robert Sinskey Vineyards Vin Gris is the wine that Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, keeps raving about.
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Napa Valley Restaurants (Upvalley) Need Your Patronage Too

Fried Chicken from Ad Hoc, a Napa Valley Restaurant

Fried Chicken from Ad Hoc

This would be a good time to patronize the Napa Valley restaurants that are still open, and support the local community.  You’ll find plenty of choices in Calistoga, St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, and Yountville still offering takeout, curbside pickup, and/or delivery. Some establishments have closed due to the shelter-in-place rules, but many are trying to stay open and continue to provide pay (and employment) for their hard-working employees.

So, if you’ve been craving the Coffee Cake at Bella Bakery, a Carnitas Burrito from La Luna, the Fried Chicken at Ad Hoc, a Rack of Ribs from Buster’s, a Shake from Gott’s, the French Dip from Rutherford Grill, the Filet Mignon at PRESS, or a Brownie from Bouchon, you can still get those!  Or, several restaurants are offering Family Meals (to save you a bunch of time and effort) and Tra Vigne Pizzeria even has a Pizza Making Kit (to keep the kids busy).

Cheeseburger from Gott's, a Napa Valley Restaurant

Cheeseburger from Gott’s

Please see below for a partial list of Napa Valley restaurants (north of Napa itself) that are serving customers, so please consider giving them your business. Be smart, stay healthy and please be extra courteous to the people you interact with (from a safe distance, of course). The situation is ever evolving, so be sure to check out the restaurants’ websites and social media accounts to get the latest (and frequently to place your orders).

(you can also go here for a listing for restaurants that are still open in the city of Napa)
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Let’s Give Napa Restaurants Some Business: Take Out, Dine In

Shitake Flatbread

“Shitake Hits the Fan” at Hop Creek Pub

If you’re tired of cooking at home, and looking for a way to support the local community, maybe it’s time to patronize Napa restaurants and food purveyors in the city. Some have closed down due to the shelter-in-place rules, but many are trying to stay open for business and continue to provide pay (and employment) for their hard-working employees.

Depending on the Napa restaurant, you can find to-go orders, curbside pickup, and/or home delivery options. Some places are also offering wine, beer, and premade cocktails to go as well. Others are offering discounts on prices, free delivery, or donating part of their gift card sales directly towards their staff.

Greek Salad at Tarla, a downtown Napa restaurant

Greek Salad at Tarla

So, if you’ve been craving a Maple Bar from Buttercream Bakery, the Duck Fat Fries at Compline, the Greek Salad from Tarla, the Shitake Flatbread from Hop Creek Pub, a Rack of Ribs from Bounty Hunter, the Korean Fried Chicken Sando from Dutch Door, one of the Cheeseburgers from Gott’s, the Mongolian Pork Chop from Mustards, or an Apple Pie from Sweetie Pies, you can still get those!

Please see below for a partial list of Napa restaurants that are still open, so please consider giving them your business. Be smart, stay healthy and please be extra courteous to the people you interact with (from a safe distance, of course). The situation is ever evolving, so be sure to check out the restaurants’ websites and social media accounts to get the latest (and frequently to place your orders).

(you can also go here for a list of restaurants between Yountville and Calistoga)
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Winery Spotlight: Ackerman Family Vineyards

Ackerman Family Vineyards

Ackerman Family Vineyards

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.

Cabernet Sauvignon from Ackerman Family VIneyards

Cabernet Sauvignon

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.
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2019 Napa Valley Film Festival: Dim the Lights

Uptown Theatre, a 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival venueWe’re just a few days away from the 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival and if you need a break right now you should seriously consider attending. There are still passes and tickets available for purchase, and part of what makes a film festival special is the live participation of writers, directors, actors and producers in Q&A sessions following practically every screening. Part of what makes the Napa Valley Film Festival special is the combination of excellent films with visiting celebrities, fun parties, and the Valley’s outstanding wine and food.

The 2019 Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) runs between Wednesday and Sunday, November 13-17, and there are all sorts of ticket and/or pass options to accommodate your personal schedule. Many things are the same at this year’s Festival (Special Opening and Closing Night Films, Wine Tasting IntermissionsCelebrity Tributes, the annual Gala, the Friday Night Bash). But, there are also some changes this year: Culinary Demonstrations in the Monogram Demonstration Kitchen, “Masterclass” guided tastings of Scotch Whiskies, and some free film screenings in the morning.

The Napa Valley Film Festival will be offering free entry to all morning screenings at the Lincoln Theater this year. Showings include My Beautiful Stutter (a documentary about 5 kids who stutter, capturing their transformation after they enter a groundbreaking program), It All Begins with a Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter (a celebration of one of music’s most important yet underrated forces), and Standing Up, Falling Down (a comedy starring Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz about an unlikely friendship). You can reserve tickets at the Festival’s website, on the “Tickets” page under the “Community Screenings” section.
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The 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 is 10/10: Don’t Miss Out, SF

Future scene of 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100You don’t have to wait for Friday to celebrate because the 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting is coming to San Francisco this Thursday, October 10th.  This annual event showcases Wine & Spirits’ favorite 100 wineries from the last year along with local chefs and artisanal purveyors serving small bites to complement the wines. Penfolds, Marchesi Antinori, Ridge Vineyards, Louis Jadot, Diamond Creek, L’Ecole Nº 41, and Williams Selyem are among the returning awardees for 2019. We have always enjoyed our experiences at this celebration of premium winemaking and we encourage you to join us there.

L’Ecole No 41 Cabernet Sauvignons

L’Ecole No 41

This year, the Top 100 Tasting takes place between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm at City View at METREON (135 4th Street, San Francisco). If you move quickly you can still buy tickets for yourself and/or friends.  General Admission tickets are $135 each and come with a one-year subscription to Wine & Spirits magazine. Or, you can splurge for a VIP Admission ticket which provides you entrance one hour earlier (at 5:30 pm) for $50 more.  Please go here to purchase tickets.  If you are a member of the Bay Area food and wine Trade, you may be able to still obtain a discounted Trade ticket.

Oysters, a small plate at the 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 TastingWe suggest you begin your evening at the 2019 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting by exploring Champagnes from wineries such as Bollinger, Bruno Paillard, Krug, and Louis Roederer.  Then, compare your favorites with Cava from Pere Ventura and enjoy Oysters from The Oyster Girls between sips.  After you’ve sampled oustanding white wines and red wines , you can wrap up your evening with Port from Quinta do Noval, Taylor Fladgate and/or W. & J. Grahams.  To go with the Port, you should look for treats from Socola Chocolatier and Recchiuti Confections.
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Winery Spotlight: Auteur Wines

Auteur Wines Tasting Room

Auteur Wines Tasting Room

The tasting room for Auteur Wines is located in a charming bungalow just off of the historic Sonoma Plaza in downtown Sonoma. The winery was founded in 2003 by Kenneth Juhasz and his wife Laura, with a focus on wonderful expressions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Auteur strives to create pure, profound and authentic wines and has earned a solid reputation for producing amazing wines. The Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs have earned many well-deserved accolades over the years.

Auteur Wines – The Story

The winery’s name Auteur (pronounced “oh-tour”) is taken from the French, meaning composer or author. This reflects the winery’s philosophy to be independent to explore the diversity of vineyards, push boundaries and collaborate to produce wines which tell their story of time and place.

Pinot Noir GrapesKenneth originally found his passion for wine while working in restaurants and wine shops during college. After graduating, he started his wine career in Oregon and eventually spent time in Napa and New Zealand before planting roots in Sonoma. Along the way, he has been the winemaker or consulted for Donum Estate, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, Pali Wine Co., Blue Farm, Dunstan Wines and Tuck Beckstoffer Wines. Kenneth was especially inspired by the wines of Burgundy, and his winemaking values the traditions of the old world while integrating the freshness and vitality of the new world.
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