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Napa Valley Wine Library Tasting: August 11-12, Napa

logo_winelib.gifSerious 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):

Atlas Peak
Astrale e Terra
Atlas Peak
Bialla Vineyards
Elan Vineyards
Jocelyn Lonen
Vin Roc

Calistoga (pending)
Chateau Montelena
Robert Pecota
Seps Estate, Storybook Mountain Vineyards
Summers Estate
Vincent Arroyo

Los Carneros
HdV Wines
Madonna Estate
Robert Sinskey
Truchard Vineyards

Diamond Mountain
Dyer Vineyard
J. Davies
Reverie on Diamond Mountain
Von Strasser

Howell Mountain
Lamborn Family Vineyards
Neal Family Vineyards
White Cottage Ranch

Mount Veeder
Chateau Potelle
The Hess Collection
Wing Canyon Vineyard

Napa Valley
Broman Cellars
Buehler Vineyards
Burgess Cellars
Cain Vineyard and Winery
Caymus Vineyards
Cloud View Vineyards
Duckhorn Vineyards
Lang & Reed
Long Meadow Ranch
Markham Vineyards
Moss Creek
Pride Mountain Vineyards
Robert Foley Vineyards
Rombauer Vineyards
Rutherford Ranch
St. Clement
Saddleback Cellars
Snowden Vineyards
White Rock Vineyards
Whitehall Lane
ZD Wines

Oak Knoll District
Blackbird Vineyards
Boyd Family Vineyards
Crane Brothers
O'Brien Estate
Trefethen Vineyards and Winery

Groth Vineyards and Winery
Miner Family Vineyards
Napa Cellars
Oakville Ranch
Swanson Vineyards and Winery
Venge Vineyards

Freemark Abbey
Gustavo Thrace
Rubicon Estate
Sullivan Vineyards
The Terraces
Tres Sabores

St. Helena
Calafia Cellars
Casa Nuestra
Ehlers Estate
Folie á Deux
Heitz Wine Cellars
hope and grace
St. Clement Vineyards
Seavey Vineyards
Spottswoode Family Estate
Trinchero Family Estates
V. Sattui

Spring Mountain District
Barnett Vineyards
Fife Vineyards
Newton Vineyards
Spring Mountain Vineyards
Terra Valentine

Stags Leap District
Baldacci Family Vineyards
Clos du Val
Hartwell Vineyards
Judd's Hill
Pine Ridge
Shafer Vineyards
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

Bighorn Cellars
Signorello Vineyards

Charles Krug
Grgich Hills Cellar
Monticello Vineyards
Rocca Family Vineyards

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud