With 12 tasting rooms and wine bars in Yountville, you certainly can’t visit all on a weekend trip to the town. One that we recommend that you not miss is the Somerston Tasting Room. It opened in June of 2010 and soon will have an adjacent food market with farm fresh produce from their farmlands in the eastern hills of the Napa Valley. The tasting room is spacious and beautifully decorated and has a very inviting feeling. On our visit we also had the pleasure of having a great host, Jeff Fountain, who joyfully poured for us a variety of excellent-tasting wines made by Somerston.
Alann Chapman purchased the Somerston farm and vineyards in 2004. Somerston is a 1600-acre ranch with 200 acres planted with vines. Most of the grapes from Somerston have been farmed out to other wineries. By coincidence that same day we tasted a delicious red wine from Clif Bar Winery, whose grapes had been sourced from Somerston. Alann Chapman hired former Spring Mountain winemaker and consulting guru, Craig Becker, to be his winemaker. The winery produces three tiers of wines, all in small lots: The Highflyer series, Priest Ranch, and the high-end Somerston label. The usual tasting fee is $15, which gives visitors four tastes from the Highflyer and Priest Ranch labels. Since we were the only visitors in the tasting room, Jeff had a little more flexibility and we had a chance to taste several more wines. We always bring spit cups so our judgment is not compromised. We enjoyed these wines very much but two really had unique characters that we thought made delightful wines which are priced fairly. The Granache Blanc is one wine that you don’t see too often. This wine is a beautiful example of a Rhone style white wine. My goodness, I thought I was in France when I sipped this wine. The wine sells for $17. The other wine that captured us was a wine called Centerline. This is big spicy and juicy fruit wine. We took home a bottle and had it with a burrito and this wine had enough oomph and flavors to match our mildly-spiced burrito. This is an excellent wine and is a blend of five grapes (45% Syrah) that sells for $28.
The tasting room is located at 6490 Washington Street in Yountville, directly across from the Villagio Hotel. If you want more of the vineyard and winery experience you can book a tour on an open-air ATV buggy and have your tasting up at the Somerston Ranch on Sage Canyon Road, about a 35-minute drive from the tasting room in Yountville. Later this year, Somerston plans to open a formal tasting room at the winery that will afford terrific views of the ranch and provide picnic facilities. That will be a must stop for us when all is ready.