We spent a very pleasant hour chatting and tasting wines with Julie Johnson, the owner and winemaker of Tres Sabores winery. Tres Sabores doesn’t get many visitors. It is well off the beaten path and the winery is open by appointment only. But that should not stop the tourists from making an effort to visit Tres Sabores because there is much to like here. This winery is not your typical Napa Valley tourist attraction. It is a rustic winery with no formal tasting room, just a homey welcoming atmosphere. It is just great fun to visit and get an inside view of a small boutique winery in the Napa Valley.
Julie Johnson grows Cabernet and Zinfandel on her plot of organically certified vineyards at the foot of the Mayacamus Mountains in the famed Rutherford AVA. Julie was one of the first to use organic farming practices in the Napa Valley. At her small Rutherford vineyard, Julie makes an estate Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of mostly Zinfandel called Porque No, and a Sauvignon Blanc from grapes sourced from the Sonoma Valley.
In addition to the wine, Julie also makes olive oil from the olive trees on her property and a very delicious and perhaps infamous BBQ sauce. In 2005 Julie lost 2000 cases of Tres Sabores wine in the Mare Island wine warehouse fire. But all was not a total loss, Julie used the “cooked” Zinfandel as a key ingredient in making her delicious Fire Roasted Zinfandel & Grilling sauce that can also be purchased at the winery.
We tasted three of the Tres Sabores wines outside at a picnic table along with the olive oil and BBQ sauce. Since Julie is both the winegrower and winemaker, we get a interesting view of how these wines were produced. It is completely evident that she is passionate and caring about her land and the wine she produces. How could we not help but like all the wines we tasted? We particularly enjoyed the Zinfandel. The Zinfandel is a big Zin with a smooth structure and one that would be delightful with barbequed pork, lamb, or beef. The Cab was delicious but out of our price range.
The Good: Organically certified vineyards, small winery, the Zinfandel.
The Bad: We could not taste the Porque No wine, because it was sold out.