Whitehall Lane sits on Highway 29 just south of the town of St. Helena. The winery looks especially beautiful in the winter when the mustard is in bloom. The vibrant colors of the winery blend in perfectly with the surrounding environment. The winery is most famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon. The Wine Spectator and other wine critics give both their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon consistently high ratings. This recognition and the fact that the winery is very visible from Highway 29 make it a popular tourist spot. The best time to visit the winery is during the week or on weekends during the off-season.
We visited Whitehall Lane mid-week a couple of weeks ago. There were six visitors in the tasting room including the two of us, proving that mid-week visits are the perfect time to get some quality time in the tasting room. Sometimes the crowd can be too small. Two men were working the tasting bar and they were not the greatest conversationalists. There were several moments of awkward silence. Maybe they are used to having bigger crowds and maybe younger ones too. Or maybe the winery did not have their “A” team on duty for a slow mid-week winter day.
We liked all the wines we tasted for the tasting fee of $10. Normally the tasting includes five wines but on a slow day we received a couple of bonus wines to taste. The Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley Cabernet, and the Napa Valley Merlot are widely distributed in wine shops, including the big warehouse wine stores. These wines are considerably discounted at the stores so you are better off tasting the wines at the winery to discover which of these you like and then buy them at the discount wine shops. However, if you are interested in the delicious reserve Cab, you should buy it at the winery. It is a delicious wine and stands up against any of the “cult” Cabs selling for well over $100 or $200. Another wine we liked was a white wine made of 62% Sauvignon Blanc and 38 % Semillion. It is a very crisp white and quite different from the usual fare of California white wines. It is available only at the winery for $18. When we find the Whitehall Lane Sauvignon Blanc on sale for $12.99 at our local wine shop, we scoop it up. It is very nice Sauvignon Blanc at that price.
The Good: Very good wines especially the reserve Cab, family owned.
The Bad: Tasting room crowded during the busy season.