Ladera Vineyards

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 Winery Ladera gardens

Ladera 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.

Winery Building
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.

image Ladera winery building

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.

   Ladera gardens

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.

Ladera Tasting Menu   Ladera Sauvignon Blanc

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!

 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon

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!

Ladera stonework Malbec grapes

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.

Ladera cat Ladera cat

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!

And now the moment you all have been waiting for, the winner of the Harvard Sweet Boutique cookie giveaway: Shannon from Tri to Cook. Shannon, please email me with your contact info!

Thanks to Sue at Harvard Sweet Boutique for sharing her decadent creations with us!

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Tags: Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Howell Mountain, Ladera Vineyards, sauvignon blanc, wine, winery

  1. Elina’s avatar

    Summer (right about now) is my favorite time to cook because the fresh produce at the farmers market is plentiful but it’s still relatively early in the season so it’s especially exciting. :)
    This book sounds great!


  2. Elina’s avatar

    Oops, I wrote it on the wrong post I see. I’ll copy it over. Your Sonoma trip is really getting me excited about our CA trip in September. I think we’ll stay in Napa for 2 nights and make Sonoma a day trip. Do you think that’s a good idea?


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      I tend to prefer Sonoma to Napa. On our past 2 trips we stayed in Sonoma and did a day trip to Napa which was enough. There is so much to do and see in both valleys though, so you will have a great time either way!


    2. Simply Life’s avatar

      Oh what a beautiful place!


    3. brandi’s avatar

      goodness, it’s beautiful!

      I’ve never been to wine country in CA, but I would LOVE to go someday.


    4. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

      BEAUTIFUL pictures! Makes me want to plan a trip there soon :)


    5. Shanna @ Shanna Like Banana’s avatar

      Thank for you sharing all these wineries for me to go to …they’re just a couple hours away so I have no excuse.

      And gotta love Wine Wednesday :)


    6. Abby’s avatar

      That house is so cute. How picturesque! :)


    7. Daisy’s avatar

      Happy Wine Wednesday to you too. Another gorgeous winery, another jealous blogger (ME!)


    8. kalli@fitandfortysomething’s avatar

      what an amazing experience. i caught some of it on twitter and it just seemed perfect!


    9. Angela (the diet book junkie)’s avatar

      what a beautiful winery! and i didn’t even know California made Malbec, i’ll have to check it out once i’m back on that side of the pond :)


    10. Rebel Road Sister’s avatar

      That looks like such an amazing place!


    11. Hadley’s avatar

      How did I miss this post? Glad I caught it and SO glad you had a great time at Ladera. The pictures are great…you are so good about remembering your camera and taking the time to snap the photos!


      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        It was SUCH a beautiful property and one we would have definitely missed if you all hadn’t sent us there! Thank you :)


      2. Grace’s avatar

        That looks like such a beautiful winery!


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