A beautiful way to spend a day in the Napa Valley is to visit wineries along the Silverado Trail. One of our favorite wineries along this route is the Clos du Val winery. The winery is located in the Stags Leap AVA in a lovely setting against the eastern hills of the Napa Valley. Clos du Val is one of the earliest wineries along the Silverado Trail with its inaugural vintage, a 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon. Like nearby neighbor, Stags Leap Cellars, this Cabernet was one of six California wines entered in the famed “Judgment of Paris” wine tasteoff of 1976. Back in those times, there were less than 30 quality wineries in the Napa Valley. Today, the winery is still owned by Bernard Portet, who along with American businessman John Goelet founded the winery in 1970. The winery has 150 acres in the Stagg’s Leap region and an additional 180 acres in the Carneros region.
The winery is most famous for its collection of Cabernet Sauvignon offerings. These Cabernets range in price from $32 for its Napa Valley selection to $105 for reserve estate wine. Although Cabernet Sauvignon is the main attraction at Clos du Val, in our tasting session we discovered the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines to be quite impressive. These wines are both from their Carneros vineyards and sell at the winery for $24 and $30. The distribution of these wines is quite extensive and, if you are a good bargain shopper, you can usually find these wines for considerable less at many fine wine shops or quality supermarkets. The tasting fee is $10 for four wines and if the tasting room has few visitors you might get an extra tasting or two. If you purchase wine, the tasting fee will be waived. This is a great tasting room policy and one that all the wineries in the Napa Valley should practice. It just makes good sense. There is also a “Reserve Tasting” for $20 where one can taste the reserve and library wines.
The best way to enjoy a visit to this winery is with a picnic lunch. The winery has two picnic areas, one under olive trees and the other in a grassy area in front of the winery. The latter picnic area is our favorite because it faces a set of the Clos du Val vineyards. Grab a glass of the wonderful Chardonnay and enjoy the solitude of the vineyards. Following lunch take a stroll along the vineyards where the winery has set up a trellis system display. Visitors can view and study the various trellis systems that are used throughout the Napa Valley.
The tasting room is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
The Good: Trellis demonstration area, picnic area, tasting fee applied to the purchase, good wine.
The Bad: Tasting limited to four wines