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Sep 22, 2012 11:57 AM

Napa wineries with hillside fruit, NOT on Spring or Howell Mnt?

Kind of a weird request, but I am looking for a specific type of winery/wineries to visit this November. I have not been to all the wineries on Spring or Howell Mnt, but several. I’d rather spend a day at each mountain, sometime in the future, but not this trip. I’ve also been to the majority of wineries on the floor and all of the Stag’s Leap district wineries (we go to V2V often). I’m basically looking for new places to visit that have hill side fruit, that are smaller - off the radar, not overly priced wineries that have been what I call “Parkerized”, and just downright good juice. I also like the more intimate visits where you can relax, visit with the owners or wine makers and casually taste their wines without the pressure of crowds or feel like part of the heard. I’m not afraid to spend upwards of $200 for a bottle of wine, but would prefer to find a winery or two with wines in the $20 - $60 range. For consistency reasons, I do prefer wineries that grow their own fruit. I buy way more “offer / allotment” type wines in the + $60 range than my salary should support already, and don’t need or want any more.

I really don’t have a favorite varietal, country or region. I like just about all wine, but maybe not bubbly’s too much. I’ll just list what I don’t like. I do not like wine that has been over oak’ed, and is over extracted jammy swill that is so common nowadays. I like a bit of dirt mixed with fruit. Not too much of either, just a hint of both, but I don’t like to have to dig too much to smell it either. I also don’t like wine that is over the top with tannins and you feel like the moisture has been sucked out of your teeth when you drink it, or wine that’s hot with too much alcohol. I don’t pay a great deal of attention to scores, especially Parker or WE. Out of all the critics, I probably look to Tanzer more than the others. My caller is very eclectic, to say the least.

Some of my favorite Cali wines are (in no particular order): Lamborn cab, Peter Michael (all of them really, but not their price), O’Shaughnessy cab, Lewelling, David Arthur 1147, Matriarch, Faila pinot, W/S pinot, Donelan Family Syrah, Turley P/S, Mary Edwards Sav Blanc, Malk Sav Blanc, Hartwell Merlot, Edge Hill Mixed Blacks, White Rock, Outpost P/S, Ridge Monte Bello, Far Niente Dolce, Tresspass Cab Franc, Booker, Philip Togni, Flora Springs Wild Boar, Jeriko Canyon. I buy Turley, and am quite saturated with their zins, so I really don’t need any more zin (and no, I do not enjoy ALL of their zins).

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  1. Personally, I'd go to the Santa Cruz Mountains . . .

    1. I think Sonoma has more wineries that fit that description than Napa does.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        We will be spending five days in Napa, attending a few events at CIA this time. I have a few blocks of time where we could swing by a few wineries.

        I know what I am looking to find (in the price bracket) may be unlikely, but figured it couldn't hurt to ask??? Take Lewelling for example, they could easily sell their wine for over $100 per bottle, but they have continued to hold their price much lower.

        What about Montagna? I just stumbled onto this one and most of their wine is at about the price point I'm looking for. They have some bottles for much more, but most are lower.

        Santa Cruz.....I have not been there before. I'll have to look into that area for another trip. We also travel to Washington and Oregon..... So many places to go wine hunting, so little time...

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Could you elaborate? Where is the mountain type/high elevation fruit in Sonoma??? I can think of Chalk Hill. Where else?

          I realize that some vineyards in the Sonoma coast may have a high elevation, but I'm having trouble thinking of a winery that specializes in it.

          1. re: goldangl95

            There are TWO sides to the Mayacamas Mountains . . . one side is in Napa, but the other side is in Sonoma. Think Laurel Glen, for example, or Moon Mountain.

            There is a Sonoma Mountain AVA, too.

        2. All appointment only:

          Kenzo, Altamura, Jarvis

          Neyers, Continuum, Chappellet

          Vine Cliff, White Rock (might be open to the public?)

          7 Replies
          1. re: goldangl95

            I've been to Altamura, like their wine.

            I have several bottles of Chappellet that Rick sold me last time I was at Groezingers, but have not tried any yet! I better pop one open!

            White Rock is one of my favorites list above, love their juice!

            I have not heard of the remaining you listed and will check them out, thank you!!

            1. re: goldangl95

              Goldang -

              Kenzo has me intrigued. $80 for a tasting and lunch from Bouchon, temping. Have you had this? Also, I do not see any reference to the price of their wines, mailing list only. Any idea what they range??

              1. re: akmike

                They have basically a two tier pricing structure $80 per bottle and $150 per bottle. I have not done the Bouchon lunch.

                1. re: akmike

                  They just released the 2009s.

                  The 100% Cab (Ai) is $250 (!!).

                  The Cab/Merlot blend (Murasaki) is $250.

                  The Cab/Merlot/Cab Franc/Petite Verdot/Malbec (Rindo) blend is $100.

                  Their Sauvignon Blanc (Asatsuyu) was released earlier this year and I don't remember what it cost. All prices above are for 750mL, but it appears they do have half bottles too.

                  1. re: neuf_du_pape

                    Oh wow, That is a huge and ridiculous price increase over previous releases.

                    1. re: goldangl95


                      They also recently raised the price on the tasting with Bouchon lunch pairing. It was $60 not more than 2-3 months ago. My friends and I considered it at $60 but $80 is an easy pass for us.

                      1. re: neuf_du_pape

                        Well as intrigued as I am about Kenzo, I will not be going there. Too much money for the wine. Kapscandy did the same thing.... 180 per bottle the first couple years, then they get a killer Parker score, now what are they, 400??? Rudd jumped from 125 to 185 in one year... I just got an offer for Derenoncourt, looks like they've double their price too.

                        I'm sticking the smaller wineries that do not cater to fame and glory and think they can charge first growth prices.

              2. Atlas Peak - Atlas Mountain
                Mayacamas Winery - Mayacamas mountain range
                Constant Diamond - Diamond Mountain

                1 Reply
                1. re: CarrieWas218

                  Constant Diamond sounds right up my alley, but they state that visits are for "members only". This sounds like the typical catch 22.... You have to be a member or on a mailing list to taste the wine, but unless you've had it before, it's a leap of faith to become a member and order the wine to taste it.

                2. Tall order. You may have to develop a list of wineries, research them on the web or just hunker down on the telephone and try to ferret out what you want.

                  Have you considered the Diamond Mountain AVA, or those in the Pritchard Hill/Lake Hennessey area (Chappellet, etc.)?

                  Research Suggestions:

                  Go to the website of the Napa Valley Vintners Association for their lists by AVA.

                  And to the specific region AVA websites: Diamond Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Howell Mountain, Spring Mountain, Diamond Mountain, etc. For example, the Spring Mountain District Wineries website is at

                  Good luck to you.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    Ya I know.... tall order. But I know that everyone has there favorites, so I didn't think it would hurt to ask.

                    CarrieWas gave me a couple good recs. Not sure if I can get an appointment, but I'm interested enough to make contact with them. I may just order some juice from them regardless.

                    I did not realize there was a Diamond Mountain AVA. I think that area deserves a day or two all on it's own.