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What are the 'not-to-miss' wineries at this tasting event?

My wife is going to a tasting event on Thursday (Oct 29), a fundraiser for the arts, featuring many Napa wineries. She asked my advice on which tasting stations she should be sure not to miss. There are many big name wineries pouring, like Shafer, Diamond Creek, Stag's Leap, Spring Mountain, Grgich Hills, etc...

However, there are also many wineries with which I have no familiarity. I am wondering if some of the Napa-philes on this board could comment on the following wineries (or at least on those that are noteworthy)...

Barlow Vineyards

Blackbird Vineyards

Boeschen Vineyards

Cain Vineyard and Winery

Diamond Terrace


John Anthony

Laird Family Estate

Miner Family Vineyards

Oakville Ranch Vineyards


Robert Craig Winery

Silverado Vineyards

Terra Valentine


Thanks for any insights you can offer regarding these wineries about which I know nothing.

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  1. I like Faust a good deal. Wonderful, drinkable Cab. Read the back label if you get a chance. I've had this wine at least 20 times and am never disappointed.

    Laird makes some beautiful wines, and I am in love with their Jillian's Blend, a blend of Cabernet and Syrah.

    Pahlmeyer is famous (read about it).

    The Reserve Cab from Silverado is elegant, with power. Huge difference between it and the regular release Cabernet. The Chard is very well crafted and flavorful -- it's rare I like a Napa Chard this much.

    Terra grows beautiful fruit and makes some lovely wines. Deserves a stop.

    Of course, everything depends on the wines each of the wineries is pouring at the event. With the exception of Faust, which makes only the Cab.

    1 Reply
    1. re: maria lorraine

      Thanks, Maria! I knew you'd be in the know. (and yes, I've heard of Pahlmeyer and know they are a big name but have not tasted any. Sounds like a worthwhile stop?)

    2. I'd be most interested in the Pahlmeyer from that list.

      1. I like Miner Family wines.

        1. John Anthony is certainly worth a stop. I may be their only customer in Vermont but my dealings with them (John and Michelle Truchard) to be rewarding both personally and from a wine quality standpoint. I'm sure that whatever they are pouring (likely to be Sav Blanc, Syrah, and Cab Sav) will be very enjoyable. I hope your wife can stop by their table and tell them Anthony from Vermont sent her !

          1. I love Terra Valentine, they make some great wines up on Spring Mountain. And Blackbird has a fantastic reputation, though I've not been lucky enough to taste their wines yet.

            1. None of them are "not-to-miss", but I'd try to hit Blackbird, Pahlmeyer and Terra Valentine.

              1. If the Cain Five meritage is being poured, you shouldn't skip them. Their other output is pleasant IMO, but there's likely better use there for your palate, stomach and liver if they're "only" pouring their Concept or Cuvee.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Eugene Park

                  Eugene, what are your thoughts on the brett in Cain's wines? It's usually so dominant that I'm put off.


                    1. re: redmeatfan

                      You misunderstood. I didn't say don't try Cain. I asked what Eugene thought about Cain's Brett.

                      But, to address your question, you do have to prioritize at these events and taste the best wines first, then hit your second choices after that. The best wines vanish quickly -- always frustrating -- and it helps to make a beeline for those first. I'd taste Cain myself after I'd hit the first tier and any new ones I wanted to try, and see if the Brett bothered me as much as it has in the past. Cheers.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        Hi Maria,

                        The bottles I've had from Cain have never had brettanomyces characteristics that were so out of whack to my palate. I have noticed a variance from vintage to vintage, though not so much within a vintage. To take a page from the "ignorance is bliss" camp, maybe having a not so sensitive palate is not necessarily a bad thing all the time.



                        PS - this is not directed at Maria or anyone at all, but is simply my two cents. Even when people advise to avoid a flagship wine, remember that everyone's palate is different. If given an opportunity to taste a $100+ at retail bottle of vino, you're better off giving it a try than avoiding it. You might like it, and if you don't, at least you didn't pour $100+ down the drain.

                        I typically bring this up when people ask for wineries to check out in Napa, and I suggest Silver Oak. Yes, SO's winemaking style has evolved over the years, and many don't like the direction they've taken. But I still say you should check them out when in Napa or Geyserville, as the tasting fee is inexpensive ($10 last time I went several years ago, and you got to keep the glass) and they'll give you some stiff pours (and/or seconds) if you are nice. Cheap way to taste an iconic brand and see if the hullabaloo is true or not.

                2. If I had to pick just 3, I would go with Blackbird, Cain, and Pahlmeyer...but if it were me, I would hit them all! =) -mJ