Frank Family Winery is one of the busiest wineries in the Napa Valley but a very fun place to visit. During our visit, there was a constant stream of people wandering in and out of the winery. And this, mind you, was on a Monday. The winery is the site of former historic Larkmead Winery and then most recently the Kornell Champagne Cellars, one of the first sparkling wine makers in the Valley. The owner of Frank Family Winery is former Disney exec, Rich Frank. Frank purchased the Kornell winery a few years back and has purchased vineyards in the Rutherford area of the Valley.
The entire tasting is very well orchestrated. We are greeted and then summoned to a corner area where we sample the Frank Family sparkling wines. They make sparkling wine the old fashioned way here, by hand riddling the bottles of aging bubbly. Following a delightful tasting we are ushered into another room where we taste Frank white and red wines. Our host is well skilled and adept at serving the crowded room of 30 or so visitors. His message as he pours is that Frank Family Winery is different from most Napa wineries. “We don’t care about what we look like, we just care about how our wines taste.” Indeed, there is nothing fancy about the tasting room. It is very non Napa Valley like. It is rustic, old, and somewhat on the shabby side. And, yes the wines are quite good, especially the Chardonnays and the Cabernets. It is obvious that the winery gimmick is the no frills approach and the no tasting fee policy or high pressure sales pitch. People feel good about being here and we think that attracts the scores of visitors.
The winery is located on Larkmead Lane, a road that crosses the valley from Highway 29 to Silverado Trail. Larkmead Lane is about four miles north of St. Helena.
The Good: No tasting fee, excellent tasting lineup of wines and sparkling wines
The Bad: Lots of visitors in small areas.