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Apr 9, 2009 10:30 AM

Barnett vs. Spring Mountain?

Which one is better? Both the tours/tastings are $25/person. Have reservations at Pride and looking to hit up another in that area...

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  1. Better how? They're both great producers with products in a similar price range from the same appellation. Do you like fruit bombs or minerally wines with enough acid to age? (not that either producer makes fruit bombs...)

    Barnett has a gorgeous location and gorgeous views. I don't know where the tastings are held at Spring Mountain (the property has a number of amazing historic wineries), but it will probably be down at their main facility near the old Falcon Crest house, which seems to excite scandinavian tourists to this day.

    9 Replies
    1. re: SteveG

      Judging the tastes of the people in my party (2 of whom are Napa first timers), better in the sense of overall experience, particularly location. Spring Mountain is supposed to do their tastings in their caves, according to the website. Would you recommend that over the views of Barnett?

      1. re: hmruthi

        I also just remembered I tasted one of Spring Mountain's cheapest Cabs and thought it was a pretty poor example for the price range. I haven't tasted their $100 cab. I've liked everything I've had from Barnett, but maybe you should call and ask what's available to taste, because they might sell out of their top stuff pretty quickly.

        Both properties have caves, but you're more likely to get great views at Barnett. Pride also has amazing views if you ask them to show you around the property or let you go for a mini-hike. Flip a coin ;-)

        Some of Spring Mountain's caves are over 100 years old, but the gorgeous old masonry has been covered up with new masonry because the owner didn't like how it the age of the caves is a bit of a moot point.

        1. re: SteveG

          Thanks - it sounds like Barnett is the way to go, so I'll try to get a reservation there. Thanks again!

          1. re: hmruthi

            We did a Spring Mtn appellation tour about a year ago and Barnett was our favorite as far as wine is concerned. Didnt do Spring Mountain as I try to avoid the larger producers. I also really like Cain
            Wasnt wild about Guilliams
            Barnett also recommended Valentine but they were closed when we tried to get an apt last minute
            I should say I'm not a fan of fruit forward wines, nor of oaky chard so my taste is not california main stream
            the area overlal is beautiful so i'm sure you'll enjoy it regardless
            if you plan to picnic somewhere bring your food supplies with you , as you probably know you're far from anywhere in that area

            1. re: sonomajom

              Is there a particular spot to picnic that you would recommend? We have a tour/tasting at Pride Mountain from 10 - 11:30 a.m., so we could in theory picnic there, or the next winery that we hit up in the area.

          2. re: SteveG

            Beg to differ here. I'm a huge fan of the Spring Mountain District wineries, and visit through the district several times a year.

            I've been to Spring Mountain Vineyard many times, most recently in late February, and the Reserve tastings are in the dining room of the "Falcon Crest" Victorian called Miravalle -- spectacularly lovely -- and *also* in the caves. The views are phenomenal. Phenomenal. Stunning beauty all over the entire property, which comprises a number of different older wineries, as Steve G mentions. The regular tours may taste in the caves only. More info on their website under the tab Tours.
            Also, if you click on Vineyards, then on the individual place names of the vineyards, there are some photos of the beauty there. Obviously, call the winery if you have questions or to make a reservation. The best SMV wines are the Cabernet, the top of the line Elivette, their Syrah and their limited release of Cabernet Franc, if you're lucky enough to taste it.

            In late February, I also tasted through Barnett's entire line, and while the wines are good, they aren't as good as last year's offerings. More off-notes and overoaking in their wines than I'd like. I actually prefer the SMV wines, especially their most recent releases.

            All the Spring Mountain District wineries offer excellent fruit with wonderful acidity. I'd visit a number of wineries in the district. I adore Pride, and it has a wonderful picnic spot with a fantastic view but you must arrange to picnic there ahead of time. Keenan is quite good, as is Paloma. I also love the exceedingly well-crafted sur lie Chardonnays from Newton, on the other side of Spring Mountain. They make a proprietary Cab Franc blend called The Puzzle, which is also quite good.

            Steve, I'm sorry I don't understand your comment about the age of the SMV caves. The entire property is so very well maintained. Caves are problematic for any winery, whether they were carved by Chinese laborers or Alf Burtleson. The effect of the earth, the moisture, means the caves and gunnite have to be rigorously maintained. I know you know this because you grew up in a winemaking family. But, trust me, it's just gorgeous at SMV and the swill keeps getting more and more elegant.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              I apologize that my post was unclear. I was commenting about Spring Mountain Vineyards' wines in particular, not Spring Mountain district wines in general. The only two sweeping statements I would make about Spring Mountain district wines are that I think they have much better structure than many valley floor wines to support the ripe fruit that is a hallmark of Napa Cabernet, and I think they're a better value, because Spring Mountain is somewhat out of the way.

              When I mentioned not liking one of the cheaper wines, that was a comment directed specifically at Spring Mountain Vineyards' baseline Cabernet from a few years back (2002?), and I'll defer to your more recent tasting of the wine. Most or all of the estate has been replanted over the last 15 years, so it would make sense that they would learn how best to take advantage of their unique estate and improve with each year.

              As to the comment on the age of the caves: the original poster seems to be interested in an experience that extends beyond the quality of the wine. Spring Mountain Vineyards' website plays up the age of the estate and caves, but I just didn't want the original poster to think the caves would be romantic rough limestone like you might find in an old Chateau in France. The refurbishment of the caves extends from necessary upgrades to the floors & walls to unnecessarily covering original masonry around entrances and similar features. The net effect is very clean and new, leaving no impression of the hard work of the laborers who originally built the caves.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Thanks for the suggestions! We have tour/tasting reservations at both Pride and Spring Mountain. If we can squeeze in Barnett, we might try to do that as well. I've never been to the Spring Mountain district, so I'm definitely looking forward to it!

                1. re: hmruthi

                  Please do a search on Spring Mountain, and the individual wineries, and the city of St. Helena to give you more information on how to plan your visit.
                  Have fun. It's beautiful up there.

                  Steve, thanks for your reply.

        2. link

          Barnett Vineyards
          1230 Spring Street Suite B, Saint Helena, CA

          Spring Mountain Vineyard
          2805 Spring Mountain Rd, Saint Helena, CA