© Visit Napa
| Some of Napa’s top wineries are delving into their cellars to find lots for the sale.
If you want to get some of Napa’s great wines at a good price, you’d better be quick.
By W. Blake Gray | Posted Wednesday, 24-Mar-2021
Napa Valley this week is introducing what could be the next iteration of high-end tastings – a tasting paid for in advance, including specific bottles to take home afterward.
For now, it’s a limited time offer as part of Napa’s Open the Cellar promotional series. If you’re interested you need to move because it expires March 25. It’s Napa Valley: there aren’t really any bargains in the global sense, but there are some very good values if you are a Napa wine fan.
“We had a really tough year,” said Teresa Wall, Napa Valley Vintners senior director of marketing communications. “Even when things were starting to open up, we had a really tough fall. This promotion is about, the Napa Valley’s open. It’s more beautiful than ever before.”
While 128 wineries are taking part, some of the offers are for virtual tastings. I haven’t spent any time parsing those because that’s basically an offer to sell you some mail-order wine, which is fine, but I think if you buy three bottles of good Napa Cabernet you should enjoy them on three different nights, not all at once while hunkered down in front of your computer. Maybe that’s just me.
However, many of the deals — which can be found at openthecellar.com – are for a prepaid tasting that can be scheduled at any time in the future. These include some tempting offers from some famous names.
“If you look at the lineup, there are both well-known names and those that are less known,” Wall told Wine-Searcher. “Clearly wineries are finding value in it, no matter how established they are. The reason wineries are participating is to gain exposure to new audiences. They haven’t had as many opportunities to meet new visitors. Each of the packages includes wine. We want to get our wine in their hands.”
Wines to watch
Some of the highlights, to me, include:
- Long Meadow Ranch: $125 for a tasting of five wines for two people, along with a cheese and charcuterie board. You also bring home three wines: a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
- Groth: $155 for a tasting for two people that includes library wines. You also get a bottle of 2014 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Antica-Antinori: For the unusual price of $163.50, you get an outdoor tasting for two with “culinary bites”. You also take home four wines: a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
- Domaine Chandon: $230 for a tasting for two. The interesting take-home package is three 2015 vintage sparkling wines from Mt. Veeder, Carneros and Yountville estate vineyards. (They make sparkling wine from Yountville fruit? I’m curious.)
- Frog’s Leap: $270 for a 90-minute tour and tasting that includes library wines. You also take home a 2005 Merlot.
- Whitehall Lane: $279 for a 5-wine tasting for two people; the draw is taking home three different 2017 single-vineyard Cabernets.
- Rutherford Hill: $300 for a five-wine tasting for four people with a picnic lunch afterward. You also take home a bottle of Cabernet.
- Storybook Mountain Vineyards: $320 for a vineyard tour and private tasting for two. You also take home six bottles of wine: three Cabernets and three Zinfandels.
- Staglin Family Vineyard: $380 for a tasting for two of Cabernet and Chardonnay; you take home a magnum of 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Silver Oak: $525 (ouch) but it includes a tasting of current releases plus one library wine. The draw is that it includes three bottles of 2006 Cabernet.
- Chappellet: $555 for a private tour and tasting for four people (ask them about narrowly avoiding the Glass Fire.) They’ll ship a bottle each of 2018 and 2010 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon to your house beforehand.
- Pulido-Walker: $765 for a tasting for four people of current release single-vineyard wines, plus one library wine. Jeb Dunnuck gave 100 points to the winery’s 2018 Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; it’s sold out, but you get three bottles of it.
Wall said she didn’t know if selling tastings in advance will become a trend. Some high-end restaurants now sell nonrefundable tickets like theater tickets; it started as a way to avoid cancellations, but if a restaurant can get its money in advance, why wouldn’t it? The same would seem to apply to wineries, and there’s no region in the world more high-end than Napa Valley.
“People often do book their trips really far in advance,” Wall said. “They make the reservations far in advance and many wineries will take a deposit on that. I don’t know how different this really is. The difference is, this is a wine and visitation package together.”