POSTED ON September 3, 2006 | IN Hidden Napa Wineries, Tasting Rooms, Wine Education | BY joe

Last Friday, we booked a vineyard and winery tour with George Hendry, owner and winemaker at Hendry Wines. Anyone can arrange one of these tours as George really enjoys leading these for parties of six or less. There is no fee for the tour or the extensive tasting that follows. Total tour time is about two and a half hours.

George and his nephew and co-winemaker Mike Hendry have a well-defined style in which they make their wines. The focus of their winemaking is to make wines that match well with foods. That means wines that are not too high in alcohol, yielding soft characteristics. For example, the Block 19 and 20 Chardonnay is very balanced with good oak characteristics. George does not allow the Chardonnay to undergo a second fermentation that gives Chardonnay the butterscotch and heavier characteristics. He prefers a softer wine and thinks his Chardonnay matches very well with salmon, chicken dishes, and similar foods.

The vineyard tour begins at Lot 4, a Pinot Noir vineyard that is just a few days away from harvest. George describes how he decides when to harvest. “It is not just the sugar content but the taste of the seeds and skins in the mouth. These are things that give flavors and characteristics to red wine.�? He chews on the skins and grapes and indicates probably the next Monday for picking this vineyard.

We move on to another plot where George explains the soil and climate effects on the vineyards. We also get a quick rundown of how he grafts a vine onto a rootstock. The next stop is the winemaking area. We run through the entire process from crushing grapes to barrel aging.

Hendry-Wines

Lastly, it is to the tasting room where we sit, smell, taste, spit, and discuss the characteristic of each of nine wines. It is wonderful to feel the passion that George has about each of his wines and how they are made to accompany food.

The winery is located on Redwood Road on the way to Mount Veeder Road, just 2.5 miles from Highway 29.

The Good: Fabulous educational wine tour and tasting with no fees. Excellent wines. Very low-key, friendly, and welcoming staff. We really liked Block 7 Zinfandel.

The Bad: Hendry is sold out of the Albarino, only 55 cases were made. We really want to try a bottle of this wine.

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