One of the highlights of our recent trip to Napa and Sonoma was our visit to Venge Vineyards. Venge was a recommendation from Chef Robin White and since they don’t hold public tastings, it was quite the special experience. It was certainly unlike any other tasting experience I have had before, and it definitely spoiled us for crowded public tasting rooms!
Venge recently moved to a new location on the Silverado Trail in Calistoga, CA. Up a long driveway flanked by vines and beautiful greenery, Venge’s tasting room actually used to be a private home. When we arrived, we weren’t sure if we were in the right place! It is a breathtaking view from the top, and because it is set up from the road, it is very quiet. The house is sunny and sparkling inside, immaculately clean and comfortable.
We were welcomed by Lin, the Director of Hospitality for Venge, and I took a few photos while we waited for the other couple tasting with us.
A long wooden table was set for the tasting, complete with cheese, crackers, and grapes.
This was the view from my seat.
Through the wine glasses
Some of my notes on food pairings for the wines that we tasted
The lineup of wines we tasted with their lovely, varying label designs
Venge makes small amounts of high quality wines. Several of their wines have been given 92 points or higher by Robert Parker. All of the wines that we tasted were spectacular, but I enjoyed the following the most. Venge is such an interesting winery that I have copied some information about each wine from their website. If you are interested in wine at all, I would definitely suggest visiting their site for more information.
2008 Maldonado Vineyard Chardonnay, Dijon Clones (Source)
The Maldonado Vineyard has produced wonderfully again this vintage. 2008 was a bit cooler and longer, ripening nearly two weeks later than in 2007. The longer season combined with the Dijon Clone of Chardonnay has attributed fantastic nuances of tropical citrus notes with and undertone of barrel toast and vanilla creaminess.
I LOVED this Chardonnay. It felt like the wine that I should be drinking, looking out over the valley on a hot and sunny day.
2007 Gladys’s Vineyard Syrah
We could speak for hours about our adornment for this property’s owner, Gladys Boyd. This is not just 2/3rd acre of Syrah vines. It is a piece of her adored garden. She knows nearly every vine by shape or by name. She has a warm heart, a great story and a small and wonderful East sloping Syrah vineyard in Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma that she calls home. It is our privilege to make her grapes into wine. The vines had no problem reaching optimum maturity with excellent hang time. Gladys’ small acreage yielded a mere 1.81 tons; this represented a very balanced crop for the 2/3-acre planting. The concentration and focus of this wine takes benefit from such low yields. Muhlner Vineyard provides the rest of the Syrah from Napa Valley and the Viognier comes from Baranek Vineyard, Clarksburg.
2007 Late Night Harvest Zinfandel (Source)
This sweet-dessert Zinfandel will entice all of your senses. The deep, alluring color pulls you in with inviting visions of black and blue. The aromatics are very ripe with dried currants, vibrant blueberry and blackberry liqueur. Later in the nose arrives scents of barrel vanillin, campfire and a touch of bacon fat. The flavor speaks entirely of chocolate dipped coffee bean and viscous black cherry. The tannin of this wine is very integrated and can be perceived for many lasting moments in the finish. It is both a seductive and exciting bottle of wine!
A little smoky, rich, sweet, and heady, this Zinfandel is the ultimate dessert.
Lin was extremely hospitable and knowledgeable about Venge wines, and her warm personality and humor made everything even better. The other couple in the tasting were wine club members and had more experience with Venge wines than we did, so it made for a fun dynamic. We talked about wine, life in California, TV shows, and movies, and I laughed harder than I had in awhile. We were very lucky in that Venge does ship to Massachusetts where some wineries do not. I was the happy recipient of several bottles of Venge wine this past week, including Gladys’s Syrah and Late Night Harvest Zinfandel.
Tasting at Venge was like drinking outstanding wine in a friend’s beautiful hillside home, and I was honored to have had such a rare and special opportunity on my birthday no less! I can not wait to return to Venge and will hopefully get to meet winemaker Kirk Venge on our next visit.
Important news- my raffle to raise money for The ALLY Foundation ends on April 1, and I will randomly pick the winners then. The prizes are great and include a $100 gift card to Williams Sonoma, a winery tour for 10 at Westport Rivers, and a case of wine. For details please visit http://firstgiving.com/meghanmalloyteamally . ALL proceeds go to The ALLY Foundation.