I am always on the lookout for something different in a tasting room experience, and my visit to the Pope Valley Winery last week was just that. It was a fun and interesting visit and a chance to learn about the Pope Valley, the history of the winery, and chat with the Eakel Family who have been running the winery since 1997.
The winery was established in 1897 and much of the winery looks the same as it did the first day it opened. It was originally named the Burgundy Winery founded by Ed Haus. The winery was built into a hillside and you can still see the rock and stones that form the walls of the bottom two floors of the winery. The top floor is at the top of the hillside. Originally, the grapes were carted up there to be processed and then gravity took over to bring the wine down to the first floor.
The original Burgundy Winery operated until 1959. The winery has changed ownership a couple of times since then, and in 1997 Sam Eakle and family, along with some partners, purchased the winery. Beginning in 2009 Sam’s two children David and Diana took over the reins, with David doing the winemaking and Diana managing the winery operations.
David has a varied lineup of wines beginning with a 100% Chenin Blanc sparkling wine. We liked this sparkling wine very much, but only 150 cases were produced and it is certain to be a popular wine. It is refreshing and very clean. While in the Loire Valley, David tasted many sparkling wines and thought his Chenin Blanc could be made into a great sparkler. I think he is right. We also very much enjoyed a Sangiovese wine and a fantastic reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you would like to visit, you should call ahead at least a day or two to book an appointment. Pack a lunch as we did and give yourself time to enjoy the surroundings of the Pope Valley. You can reach the winery by heading to the top of Spring Mountain Road in St. Helena off the Silverado Trail. At the top of Spring Mountain, turn left for a couple of miles to the Pope Valley Winery at 6613 Pope Valley Road. It is about a
25-minute drive from the center of St. Helena.
Here is quick video clip of David inviting you to the Pope Valley Winery.