Serious wine lovers in the San Francisco Bay area get several opportunities each year to indulge their passions for wine. Large, themed tastings like the ZAP Zinfandel Festival or Pinot Days are great opportunities to get a sense of a certain varietal and the quality of the recent vintage in California and events like Family Winemakers are an opportunity to taste wines from smaller producers.
It is quite rare, however, despite the nearness of the appellation and the saturation of wine in the Bay Area, for consumers to get the opportunity to get an in-depth look at the wines of Napa Valley. Perhaps it's just because Napa wines don't need much marketing help, or perhaps it's because the Napa Valley Vintners association exhausts itself with its two major events each year, but there just isn't a real good opportunity to survey the breadth and depth of wines from the Napa valley.
Unless, that is, you happen to be a member of the Napa Valley Wine Library Association.
The Wine Library is just what it sounds like: a library with books about wine. Started in the early Sixties by a group of winery owners that realized the irony of having a public library in the heart of Napa Valley that possessed virtually no literature or resources about wine, the library association was built on donations of money and books from Napa's wine families over four decades. Now occupying a special section of the St. Helena public library and even owning a small vineyard out behind the building, the Wine Library Association is a membership organization that gives its members access to these materials, some of which are rare and historic, as well as to annual tasting events.
Each year the organization hosts a two part event: On Saturday they offer a full day seminar on a specific topic, often a certain AVA or certain varietal, and then on Sunday they offer a tasting event showcasing a specific varietal as represented by hundreds of wineries in the valley.
This year's event will feature an all-day seminar on August 11th, focused on Cabernet varieties, in which prominent winemakers and vineyard managers from Cakebread, Chateau Montelena, Crocker & Starr, Dyer Vineyard, Gargiulo Vineyards, Harlan Estate, The Hess Collection, Hill Family Estate, and Three Palms Vineyard will discuss their sites and their wines.
On Sunday the 12th, over 100 wineries will pour their recent vintages of Cabernet in the grove at the Silverado Country club.
"That's all well and good," you may be saying, "but this is a members-only event and I'm not a member of the Napa Valley Wine Library Association." That's true. But a check for $50 sent in advance, or a check for $60 on the day of the event will do the trick. Membership is available on the spot, and covers BOTH events, plus any others that you choose to go to for the rest of the year.
Sound like a steal? It is. Unless you're a member of the trade that attends Premiere Napa Valley, or someone willing to pay in the hundreds or thousands for a package at the annual Auction Napa Valley, there is no other way to get the opportunity to taste so many Napa Valley wineries in a single setting. If you're serious about learning more about Napa Cabernet, or if you're a big fan of the varietal, this is an event you don't want to miss. I've provided a list of the wineries scheduled to pour at the bottom of this post.
Napa Valley Wine Library Association Member Tasting
Saturday & Sunday August 11th and 12th
Silverado Resort and Country Club
1600 Atlas Peak Road
Napa, California 94558
Annual membership dues for the Association are $50, or $60 if purchased at the door. Only checks and cash will be accepted, I believe, so stop at an ATM or bring your checkbook. Additional details on how to get membership in advance and on the event can be found on the Association's web site. Please note that the location for the Saturday event is incorrectly listed on the association web site as the Copia center. Both events will take place at the Silverado resort.
My usual tips for such outdoor public tastings apply:wear loose fitting but dark colored clothing (but keep in mind that it may be very warm that day). Eat a good meal before going and drink lots of water while tasting. Decide in advance which wineries you would like to visit, and make sure to spit rather than swallow the wine to make sure you get a chance to enjoy (and remember) a number of wines.
An incomplete list of wineries scheduled to pour on Sunday arranged by appellation (as they will be on the day of the tasting):
Astrale e Terra
Seps Estate, Storybook Mountain Vineyards
Reverie on Diamond Mountain
Lamborn Family Vineyards
Neal Family Vineyards
White Cottage Ranch
The Hess Collection
Wing Canyon Vineyard
Cain Vineyard and Winery
Cloud View Vineyards
Lang & Reed
Long Meadow Ranch
Pride Mountain Vineyards
Robert Foley Vineyards
White Rock Vineyards
Oak Knoll District
Boyd Family Vineyards
Trefethen Vineyards and Winery
Groth Vineyards and Winery
Miner Family Vineyards
Swanson Vineyards and Winery
Folie á Deux
Heitz Wine Cellars
hope and grace
St. Clement Vineyards
Spottswoode Family Estate
Trinchero Family Estates
Spring Mountain District
Spring Mountain Vineyards
Stags Leap District
Baldacci Family Vineyards
Clos du Val
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Grgich Hills Cellar
Rocca Family Vineyards
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