POSTED ON September 5, 2007 | IN Tasting Rooms | BY joe

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.

Frank Family Winery

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.

Frank Family Winery

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.

Comments

  1. Miss Needle says

    Honestly, I wish I could say the winery was friendly. To be fair, it may have been just one terrible host. My husband and I went there a couple of years ago and were treated absolutely horribly. We were basically ignored and left after 15 minutes. The host was super nice to everybody else but treated us and another couple like crap, which made us feel crappier as this showed he was being a selective a**hole. It’s different if somebody treats everybody like crap. We’re not sure what his issue was. The only thing I can think of is that the couple was European and we are an Asian-American couple who dress more like “city folk”.

    I was shocked at his rude behavior, especially in light of everything I’ve heard about how they try to make one feel at home. We didn’t do anything to deserve this type of treatment. I felt like the host prejudged us and probably thought we were some uptight city snobs who would look down on their “rustic, old, and somewhat on the shabby side” room just based on our appearance. Honestly, I can’t think of any other reason for his behavior.

    In retrospect, I realized I should have probably spoken to either the owner/manager or write a letter a couple of years ago when the incident occurred.

    The incident upset me a great deal to the point that two years later, I still refuse to set foot in that place. I was just visiting the Napa Valley last week and passed by the winery. I just kept on driving.

    Apparently, a lot of people have had positive experiences there. Great for them. We just wish we would have been one of them. There are many wonderful wineries in Napa. We’ve been cordially greeted at every single one we have visited. Ironically, Frank Family Winery, the winery known for friendliness, has been our only blemish.

  2. Agree says

    Just went today. Definitely no-frills, free tasting. I took a group of about 12 friends here on a spur of the moment. They were really hesitant and thought I was nuts when we walked in and saw that the tasting room was basically a trailer. All their doubts vanished the second they had their first tasting. Suddenly I was a genius who knew a place no one had ever heard of. It pays to listen to locals.

    I liked all their wines, but particularly the chardonnay and the reserve champagne with the Remy Martin.