Happy Wine Wednesday! I honestly can not believe I have been blogging about our wine country trip for almost a week and still have SO many things to share. We know how to live it up on a long weekend
Many of the great experiences that we had last weekend were made possible by blog and Twitter friends, and in this case, by the owners of my new favorite wine store and a wine lover’s home away from home, The Urban Grape. They are having some really great wine tastings, and if you live in the area and haven’t checked them out, definitely do.
TJ arranged for us to visit Ladera on a Sunday morning before our visit to Schramsberg. Over in Healdsburg, the day started out cold and very cloudy, but by the time we made our way into Calistoga, the sun was shining, and it was HOT.
I am thankful that we had the opportunity to visit Ladera because it is definitely a little off the beaten path but completely more than worth veering off of the Silverado Trail, even if just for the gorgeous mountainous scenery.
We arrived at Ladera a few minutes early and spent some time admiring their beautiful gardens and the old stone building which houses the winery.
Ladera’s website offers a wealth of information on the winery’s history:
Ladera Vineyards is the home of estate grown and produced Cabernet Sauvignon focused primarily on our two designated wines, the Lone Canyon Vineyard Cabernet and the Howell Mountain Appellation Cabernet. Behind our fine wines is our historic 1886 restored and renovated stone winery and underground barrel caves.
In 1886 Brun & Chaix completed a three-story winery building with thirty inch thick stone walls. “The structure is built entirely of hard, durable stone, three stories in height, roofed with shingles, and being partly dug in the side of a sloping hill, there is easy access by wagons or teams to the three floors… The enterprise and perseverance shown by this firm in demonstrating what our elevated regions can accomplish in the way of grape growing is worthy of all praise… Now all doubts are removed on that score and they are the men to reap the reward which they justly deserve.” One of those rewards was a Bronze Medal in the 1889 Paris World Competition.
Our name, Ladera, stands to remind us of the nature of our vineyards, our fruit and our wines… hillside, intense, distinct.
This magnificent building houses winemaking facilities that take advantage of gravity for winemaking. Grapes from their two different vineyards are crushed at the top, juice flows downward for fermentation and then down again to be stored in barrels. This method eliminates the need to use pumps which also helps to avoid damage to the grapes that pumps can cause.
We began our tasting inside, and then Gordon, Ladera’s Hospitality Manager suggested we sit outside to enjoy the beautiful day.
First up was the 2009 Howell Mountain Sauvignon Blanc, one of the most refreshing and lovely Sauvignon Blancs I have ever tried. It had crisp, clean flavors of honeydew melon, nicely acidic but also had a nice roundness to it, the perfect food wine.
Then we got to sample some of Ladera’s Cabernet Sauvignon. This winery is known for its Cabs, and its two vineyards, Howell Mountain and Lone Canyon, produce very different wines from the same grape.
The winner for me was the 2006 Howell Mountain Cab which was a rich, elegant wine with a chocolate-y nose and chocolate covered cherry flavors. It had a velvety mouth feel; it was just one of those wines with a lot of depth and texture in addition to long, lingering flavors. It was so delicious!
While we tasted, Gordon told us about the property,and we took a quick walk to grab a few photos of the front of the winery (photos above) so that I could catch the original stone work and date stone in the good light. We also saw some of Ladera’s grapes, including these rows of Malbec. We did not have a chance to try the Malbec, but as new wine club members, hopefully we will return for another tasting and tour in the future!
While we did have a lovely private tasting, we were not alone. Ladera has two winery cats, and being the animal lover that I am, I had to snap a few photos and ear scratches. These guys take care of little pests around the property, but while we were there they seemed most interested in sunning themselves.
And plenty of sun there was! Ladera is in an exquisitely beautiful location removed from the hustle and tour bus bustle of Napa Valley. It is by appointment only, creating an intimate, home-like setting for a tasting of world class wines. Gordon was extremely warm, hospitable, and knew the winery and wines well. He also knew the area well and shared his favorite restaurants with us and gave us a great place, Silverado Brewing Company, to watch the World Cup final.
Thanks so much to TJ and Hadley from The Urban Grape and Gordon from Ladera for such a wonderful experience. I want to go back now!
Thanks to Sue at Harvard Sweet Boutique for sharing her decadent creations with us!